‘Welcome to Brexit’: Dutch officials seize British driver's ham sandwiches

‘Welcome to Brexit’: Dutch officials seize British driver's ham sandwiches

A British driver was in for a surprise when they arrived into Rotterdam and were duly informed by a customs officer that, according to new rules governing the import of personal goods after Brexit, their ham sandwiches would have to be confiscated. 

Dutch customs confiscate food goods at border

The United Kingdom officially left the EU at 11pm on December 31, and, as a result, the country no longer adheres to EU rules. This means new regulations for travel, immigration, and, of course, imports. New restrictions on the imports of personal goods mean British travellers arriving in any EU country should be aware of what they can and cannot bring with them across the border. 

According to guidance from the British government, travellers cannot bring any products of an animal origin into the EU. The EU commission says the restriction is necessary because these products “continue to present a real threat to animal health throughout the Union.” Meanwhile, in a post on Facebook, Dutch customs said, “You are not allowed to simply bring more food from the UK,” and asked travellers to spread the word and limit food waste.

Deze levensmiddelen hebben we in beslag genomen bij automobilisten in de ferryterminal in Hoek van Holland. Want sinds 1...

Posted by Douane Nederland on Wednesday, 6 January 2021

A number of Brits arriving at the Hoek van Holland have been faced with the reality of this unexpected rule. Customs officers confiscated a number of food items, with one driver being told, “Since Brexit, you are no longer allowed to bring certain foods into Europe, like meats, fruits, vegetables, and fish.” When he was told his ham sandwiches would be confiscated, he asked if he could keep the bread and just hand in the meat: “No, everything will be confiscated,” said the customs officer, “Welcome to Brexit, sir - I’m sorry.” 

Dozens of British travellers denied entry to the Netherlands

Since the start of 2021, dozens of British travellers have been denied entry at the Dutch border. The combination of strict travel restrictions as a result of the coronavirus pandemic and new travel rules for British nationals, who are used to falling under EU laws, has led to significant confusion at the border.

The Royal Netherlands Marechaussee do make exceptions for travellers who can prove their trip is necessary (i.e. for work), which means, for example, that journalists and doctors would be welcomed into the country. The same rule applies for a number of countries, and since the start of the new year travellers from the United States have also been refused entry at the Dutch border. Most travellers are stopped at Amsterdam Schiphol Airport

On January 8, the Marechaussee stopped a group of 10 Brits in the port of Rotterdam, and now the total number of travellers refused entry to the Netherlands since the start of 2021 is up to around 80. The group said they were travelling on to Germany for work, but this could not be proven.

Victoria Séveno


Victoria Séveno

Victoria grew up in Amsterdam, before moving to the UK to study English and Related Literature at the University of York and completing her NCTJ course at the Press Association...

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