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Brussels, 19 December 2002

Stopping animal disease at the border: tighter rules on personal imports of meat and milk into the EU

On 1 January 2003, tighter EU rules on personal imports of meat and milk products enter into force. Travellers entering the EU from certain third countries will no longer be allowed to bring in personal imports of meat, meat products, milk or milk products, on their person or in their luggage, unless accompanied by official veterinary documentation.

David Byrne, EU Commissioner for Health and Consumer Affairs, said: "With the foot-and-mouth disease crisis fresh in our minds, the significance of this measure is clear. Even small quantities of infected products for personal use may spark an outbreak of animal disease. It is therefore important to make travellers aware of the risks and enlist their help in our efforts to stop infectious animal diseases from entering the EU."

In addition to tightening the rules, an awareness campaign is being launched to bring the message to travellers entering the EU and the candidate countries. This campaign includes a poster that is available in over 30 languages, to ensure that passengers are aware of the new rules and the reasons behind them, before they travel as well as during their journey.

The legislation suspends existing exceptions to import conditions and border controls that are granted for meat, milk and derived products brought by travellers for private consumption or sent to private persons.

Travellers will, however, be allowed to bring in powdered infant milk, infant food and special foods required for medical reasons provided that (i) the product does not require refrigeration before consumption; (ii) it is a packaged proprietary brand product; and (iii) the packaging of the product is unbroken.

The import of any other personal consignments of meat, meat products, milk or milk products will only be permitted subject to declaration of the goods on arrival together with the necessary official veterinary documentation i.e. the same conditions as for commercial imports.

The new rules do not apply to products carried by travellers arriving from Greenland, Faroe Islands, Iceland, Andorra, San Marino, Liechtenstein, Switzerland and the candidate countries, with the exception of Turkey.


Products of animal origin imported by travellers for their own consumption or sent to private persons are subject to import conditions and controls at EU borders according to three separate Directives, depending on the product in question(1). The legislation makes exceptions to the import conditions, for example where such products are imported under non-commercial conditions.

These exceptions are now abolished, thus responding to recommendations made by the FAO's European Commission for the Control of Foot and Mouth Disease, the International Conference on the Prevention and Control of Foot and Mouth Disease and the European Parliament Temporary Committee on Foot and Mouth Disease. These forums identified the need to address the risk of spreading foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) via products obtained from animals susceptible to FMD when these products are illegally imported or when they are carried by travellers for their own consumption. This risk also exists for other major animal diseases such as Classical and African Swine Fever, and Avian Influenza. Furthermore, these recommendations identified the need for awareness campaigns to alert and inform travellers of the rules and the risks. Again, this need is addressed by the legislation entering into force on 1 January 2003.

The posters can be obtained as a pdf-file in all EU languages and candidate country languages as well as Arabic, Bosnian, Croatian, Hebrew, Japanese, Macedonian, Russian, Servo-Croatian, Albanian, Serbian, Chinese, Turkish and Swahili by using this link:

(1)Directive 72/462, covers fresh meat and meat products of domestic ruminants and swine; Directive 91/494, covers meat and meat products of poultry; and Directive 92/45, covers meat of wild game.

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