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BREXIT

Christmas travel between Spain and the UK: What can I not pack in my suitcase?

This is the first Christmas since Brexit came into force, so if you're travelling between Spain and the UK and planning on taking some festive goodies with you, here's what you should know about the new rules and what you can't pack.

Even Santa Claus can't get all British Christmas treats through Spanish customs. Photo: Niklas HALLE'N/AFP
Even Santa Claus can't get all British Christmas treats through Spanish customs. Photo: Niklas HALLE'N/AFP

If you’re heading home to spend Christmas with family or they’re coming out to stay with you, be aware of the rules regarding food and drink, and what you can and can’t bring in and out of Britain and the EU.

Some rules have changed recently, following Brexit, so read the Local’s guide below to make sure you aren’t caught out at customs.

Flying to the UK from Spain

For those returning to the UK from Spain, the rules are relatively lax.

Note, if you’re spending Christmas in Northern Ireland there are different rules on food and animal products. Find them here. 

You can bring the following products from Spain into the UK without worrying about any restrictions:

  • bread, but not sandwiches filled with meat or dairy products

  • cakes without fresh cream

  • biscuits

  • chocolate and confectionery, but not those made with unprocessed dairy ingredients

  • pasta and noodles, but not if mixed or filled with meat or meat products

  • packaged soup, stocks and flavourings

  • processed and packaged plant products, such as packaged salads and frozen plant material

  • food supplements containing small amounts of an animal product, such as fish oil capsules

Meat, dairy, fish and animal products

If, like many of us, you have friends and family already putting in their orders for stocks of jamón serrano, know that the rules on bringing meat, dairy, fish and other animal products into the UK are relatively relaxed. You can bring in meat, fish, dairy and other animal products as long as they’re from the EU, so your jamón and Manchego cheese is safe. 

A leg of jamón serrano can be an excellent Christmas gift, but it might not fit in your lugagge or get past customs. Photo: Ben Kerckx/Pixabay

Alcohol allowance

For many, the big one, but there are some limits on how much booze you can bring in from Spain and the EU more generally. How much you can bring depends on the type of alcohol, so get up to speed on the limits and make sure your favourite Rioja or Cava isn’t taken off you or heavily taxed:

Limits:

  • beer – 42 litres

  • still wine – 18 litres

  • spirits and other liquors over 22 percent alcohol – 4 litres

  • sparkling wine, fortified wine (port, sherry etc) and other alcoholic drinks up to 22 percent alcohol (not including beer or still wine) – 9 litres

It’s worth knowing that you can split your allowance, for example you could bring 4.5 litres of fortified wine and 2 litres of spirits (both half of your allowance).

Flying into Spain from the UK

While British borders are laid back when it comes to travelling with food and drink, the rules on food and drink are much tougher when entering the EU from the UK.

Most importantly, tea bags – longed for by Brits the world over – are allowed. Marmite, which is vegan, is also OK but Bovril, which contains beef stock, is not.

Travellers arriving in the EU from Britain can, according to the European Travel Retail Confederation (ETRC), bring the following quantities of alcohol, so if you fancy a British tipple in Spain over Christmas it is possible, within reason: 4 litres of still wine and 16 litres of beer, 1 litre of spirits, or 2 litres of sparkling or fortified wine.

If you arrive in the EU from a non-EU country, you cannot bring any meat or dairy products with you. That means no Wensleydale, no Cornish Brie, and no British bacon to enjoy in Spain over Christmas.

The EU’s strict rules mean that all imports of animal-derived products technically come under these rules, so even boxes of chocolates are now banned because of the milk.

Similarly, if you’re planning on asking a friend or family member to bring you over some sweets, cakes, or other home comforts, be aware that the ban includes all products that contain any meat or dairy as an ingredient – which includes things like chocolate, fudge, custard and sweets (because of the gelatine.)

You are allowed to bring a small quantity of fruit and vegetables as well as eggs, some egg products, and honey. Restricted quantities of fish or fish products are also allowed: eviscerated fresh fish products (gutted, with all the organs removed), and processed fishery products are allowed up to 20 kg or 1 fish, so you can enjoy some Scottish smoked salmon in Spain over Christmas if you want.

Don't pack mince pies if you're from the UK to the EU. Photo: Daniel Norris/Pixabay
Don’t pack mince pies if you’re travelling from the UK to the EU. Photo: Daniel Norris/Unsplash

If you’re travelling with kids, note that powdered infant milk, infant food and specifically required medical foods are allowed up to 2kg, as is the case for pet foods. 

Even classics like Christmas pudding and Mince Pies are banned because they contain suet, so if you’re planning on a British Christmas on the beach, think again.

It is worth noting that these strict EU rules also apply to sending products by post, so if you were hoping to get around the newly applicable legislation by having someone send you a delivery of mince pies, they will probably be intercepted and confiscated by Spain’s postal service, unfortunately. 

READ ALSO: How Brexit will affect the postal service between Spain and the UK over Christmas

Article by Conor Faulkner

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TRAVEL NEWS

Spain’s summer strike calendar: The days you might want to avoid flying

Following the announcement that Ryanair and EasyJet staff have added further strike days in July 2022, we list the dates that travellers looking to fly to and from Spain may want to avoid booking tickets for.

Spain's summer strike calendar: The days you might want to avoid flying

Strike action by Spain-based cabin crew working for Ryanair and EasyJet will continue throughout the month of July, unions representing staff for Europe’s two biggest low-cost airlines have confirmed.

EasyJet’s strike days in July will continue as initially announced on June 21st.

In Ryanair’s case, the six-day stoppage was meant to come to an end on Saturday July 2nd, but a further 12 days of strikes have been added throughout the month of July due to the failure to reach an agreement over cabin crew’s low pay and work conditions. 

“After six days of strike and in view of the unwillingness of the company to listen to its staff and its preference for leaving thousands of passengers grounded rather than sitting down to negotiate an agreement under Spanish law, we have been forced to call new strike days,” USO unionist Lidia Arasanz said with regard to the 1,900 Ryanair employees they represent.

So far, the stoppages by Ryanair and Easyjet staff have not meant that absolutely all their flights to and from Spain have been cancelled, but dozens of scheduled flights have indeed not taken off and hundreds more have suffered delays on these previous strike days. 

Minimum services have been provided for flights within the Spanish mainland and to and from the Canary and Balearic Islands, especially those leaving from Madrid, Málaga, Barcelona, ​​Alicante, Seville, Palma de Mallorca, Valencia, Girona, Santiago de Compostela and Ibiza airports.

A Ryanair cabin crew member holds a placard reading “Ryanair, low salaries made simple” as she protests at Terminal 2 of El Prat airport in Barcelona on June 24, 2022. (Photo by Pau BARRENA / AFP)

For international flights the situation is more complicated, especially for Ryanair passengers with scheduled flights from Belgium, Italy, France and Portugal, as the low-cost airline’s cabin crew in those countries have also joined the strikes.

Even though UK-based Ryanair and EasyJet staff are not on strike, the sheer number of flights between Spain and the UK has meant that thousands of British holidaymakers have already been affected.

Málaga, Barcelona and Palma de Mallorca’s airports have reportedly been the most affected by Ryanair and EasyJet flight cancellations thus far.

READ ALSO: What are your rights if flights are delayed or cancelled?

Many EasyJet and Ryanair passengers who have already booked flights to and from Spain for July will no doubt want to know with plenty of notice if their flight will be cancelled, something that is not possible to know in most cases until the airline emails or texts them.

Ryanair’s management has said it expects “minimal (if any) disruption to its flight schedules in July as a result of minor and poorly- supported Spanish labour strikes”, although if what’s happened over the course of late June and early July is anything to go by, that won’t necessarily be the case.

The Irish carrier did acknowledge that “air traffic control strikes and airport staff shortages across Europe (which are beyond Ryanair’s control) may however cause some minor disruption and passengers whose flights are disrupted will be notified by email/SMS”.

It is possible to use Ryanair’s flight tracker to check on the status of your upcoming flight, but you’re unlikely to get accurate information if done lots of days in advance.

Dozens of EasyJet flights have been cancelled so far, even though the airline’s management says it intends to operate all of them. (Photo by Pau BARRENA / AFP)

EasyJet has also said it intends to operate all its scheduled flights in July, whilst acknowledging that there could be some delays and other disruptions. 

On Sunday July 3rd, eight EasyJet flights to and from Spain were cancelled and 46 were delayed.

On Tuesday July 5th, EasyJet’s chief operating officer Peter Bellew resigned, allegedly “to pursue other business opportunities”, news which certainly suggests that all is not well at the Luton-headquartered airline.

You can also use EasyJet’s flight tracker here to find out if your flight is going ahead

For those of you who have booked a Ryanair or Easyjet flight to and/or from Spain for July, or those who are considering doing so, the following is a breakdown of all the scheduled strike days by cabin crew for both airlines for the coming weeks.

Ryanair strike days 

Tuesday July 12th

Wednesday July 13th

Thursday July 14th

Friday July 15th

Monday July 18th

Tuesday July 19th

Wednesday July 20th

Thursday July 21st

Monday July 25th

Tuesday July 26th

Wednesday July 27th

Thursday July 28th

Easyjet strike days

Friday July 15th

Saturday July 16th

Sunday July 17th

Friday July 29th

Saturday July 30th

Sunday July 31st

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