Yachting Monthly experts help you unravel what the new regulations post-Brexit mean for UK and EU sailors

What food can I legally take from the UK into the EU?

Following the recent Brexit news about lorry drivers having their sandwiches confiscated, a pertinent question arises.

Covid-permitting, many sailors are hoping to cross the Channel this coming summer.

Like any sensible sailor, we like to be well prepared for a trip and fully stocked with suitable food and drink for both the crossing and for regular staples.

It seems that this is going to be a significant problem as many items are currently restricted.

These hindrances might prove a complete barrier to planning such trips.

What, if any, information do you have that would either mitigate or remove these barriers?

Edward Vivian


The RYA’s Cruising Manager, Stuart Carruthers responds: It is becoming clear what the impact of ‘taking back control’ actually means for recreational boaters, many of whom have known nothing else than the freedoms that life in the EU afforded them.

Nothing illustrated this more clearly than the seizure of ham sandwiches from lorry drivers arriving from the UK by Dutch officials at the Hook of Holland.

Although this is mildly amusing, there is no rule that singles out ham sandwiches per se, but the fact is that as the UK is now regarded by the EU as a third country, personal imports into
the EU of UK meat, milk and products containing them has been banned since the transition period ended on 31 December 2020.

Continues below…

It would appear that food being sold to passengers on ferries will not be exempted from this if taken ashore for personal consumption.

RYA cruising manager Stuart Carruthers

Stuart Carruthers joined the RYA in 2005 and is their cruising manager

The European Commission has provided information on the legal situation applicable to travel between the EU and the UK after the end of the transition period.

This states that Union law prohibits the introduction into the EU of certain products of animal origin where they form part of travellers’ luggage – these prohibitions apply in relation to travel from Great Britain to the EU or Northern Ireland.

This would suggest that provided food is not actually landed in the EU, it will not form part of a traveller’s luggage and it will be fine to have food produced in GB on board.

It is also likely that checks will only be undertaken at the border, if at all.

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