Looking at purchasing some painted wooden chopping boards as gifts for family. Travelling from Australia to the UK. Anyone know if there is an issue with this?

  • What would be the total value and do you have the receipts that you could present to customs? Commented Jan 26, 2023 at 8:47
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    An FYI for anyone surprised by this question: Australia (and some other South Pacific nations e.g. New Zealand) have strict rules designed to prevent ecologically-damaging outbreaks of non-native flora or fauna, and wooden items generally need to be declared and inspected for things like boreholes that might indicate live non-native insects etc. Such rules are less strict in "old world" countries whose ecosystems already adapted to centuries of intercontinental trade. Commented Jan 26, 2023 at 10:41
  • I very much doubt our UK Customs care about wooden chopping boards, as such… and don't you think the very idea is suspicious enough to invite investigation? 'Everyone knows' travelling from Australia to the UK, the gifts you bring are Aussie things such as most obviously boomerangs or didgeridoos. Why you might trek half-way round the world to give a gift of something your people could buy in many a local store makes the whole idea deeply suspicious. Commented Jan 27, 2023 at 19:07
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    @RobbieGoodwin "If you were a competent customs officer, everything about a wooden souvenir that did not demonstrate singular and special origin would be inherently suspicious" No, if you're a competent customs officer, you're focusing on actual violations of customs regulations. Not "you could've bought one of these here" paranoia.
    – ceejayoz
    Commented Jan 27, 2023 at 20:06
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    "FYI focusing on violations is possible only after something or other has raised clues, doubts or suspicions." Sure; the point is "I bought a cutting board as a gift" isn't going to. (I've also traveled internationally enough times with gifts to be pretty comfortable with this fact, and tend to rank that higher than day-time TV as evidence.)
    – ceejayoz
    Commented Jan 27, 2023 at 20:14

2 Answers 2


Travellers can bring non-alcohol and tobacco goods into the UK worth up to £390 (e.g. perfume and electrical goods) without paying duty and/or tax in the UK. The goods must be for your own use or as gifts. Anything over this amount must be declared.

Source: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/946504/6.7005__SE_CUS_v3.pdf

There are some restrictions on importing plants and plant products. Whether these apply to your intended gifts will likely depend eg on the type of wood, how it has been processed/packaged etc. It’s not easy to negotiate and understand the various sources of information; I would recommend:

  • if in doubt, declare the items
  • don’t bring non commercially packaged items

Example (there may be others): https://www.gov.uk/guidance/import-wood-wood-products-or-bark

  • The online versions can be found here: applies also to Gifts Bringing goods into the UK for personal use: Overview - GOV.UK and the £390 limit Bringing goods into the UK for personal use: Arriving in Great Britain - GOV.UK Commented Jan 26, 2023 at 9:49
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    "If in doubt, declare it" ? YMMV: the few times I did declare something it's been always a huge pain. I've never had a problem with not declaring.
    – Hilmar
    Commented Jan 26, 2023 at 12:47
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    @Hilmar While not-declaring has the chance of saving you a bit of (short term) administrative hassle, it can have a non-zero probability of getting you into a load of legal hassle. If you think the customs agent was unsympathetic to you declaring something you didn't need to, think of how much more unsympathetic they would be if they discovered you deliberately omitted declaring something you should have.
    – R.M.
    Commented Jan 26, 2023 at 17:27
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    @Hilmar: LOL. Being caught by the police for a crime has always been a huge pain. I've never had a problem when not being caught. Commented Jan 27, 2023 at 11:01
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    @Hilmar In New Zealand (a different country) I have often found that declaring what you have on you sometimes gets you directed past the long "nothing to declare - we don't believe you" X-ray line Commented Jan 27, 2023 at 16:29

The UK has no restrictions on the importation of wood, unlike Australia.

So you will have to look at the total value of the gifts, same as all other items you bring into the UK intended to leave behind.

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    What makes you think so? Wood is explicitely mentioned here: gov.uk/guidance/… Commented Jan 26, 2023 at 9:17
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    The living part of a plant (including a 'Plant product', unprocessed or having undergone simple preparation) is restricted both in the UK and EU. Commented Jan 26, 2023 at 9:53
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    @MarkJohnson The page I am linking to concerns 'plants' (living plants) and 'plant products', under which, and I repeat myself, 'wood' is explicitely mentioned: ‘Plant product’ means products of plant origin, unprocessed or having undergone simple preparation, in so far as these are not plants, including wood and bark. I don't see why wooden chopping boards should not be covered by that description. The purpose of the restriction is to prevent import of plant pests and diseases and a wooden chopping board could of course be a risk. Commented Jan 26, 2023 at 10:48
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    @lambshaanxy The restricted 'plant products' described on the page I am linking to do of course have nothing to do with living plants. 'Wood' is explicitely mentioned as a regulated plant product. Commented Jan 26, 2023 at 10:57
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    @Tor-EinarJarnbjo, saying that you can not take wood into the UK is like saying you can not take medication into the UK. There are some (rare) exceptions which are not allowed but for the most you can just bring it in. I would not suggest to take green wood (just cut down trees) but a finished wooden item is usually not a problem anywhere in Europe or North America.
    – Willeke
    Commented Jan 26, 2023 at 18:04

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