Getting Things Sent from Home

If you’re away from home, no matter where you live, there will be times when you will wish you had things from back home, in particular food items or medicines. In this blog we will look at some of the top items that regularly feature on the British expat wish list, and how you can get your hands on them if you live abroad.

The top three most missed product categories for British expats living abroad are food products, medicines and baby products.


When exporting outside the EU, your goods will have to travel through customs. Every country has different regulations depending on the products your shipping. It’s very important that you contact the customs office in the country your shipping to, to see whether your goods are allowed into the country before sending them, otherwise you may find they are not released by customs else you will have to pay for them to be re-shipped home.


The top most missed food for expats living abroad is fish and chips! Sadly, though, you cannot order an international take away just yet, so other than finding a local British chip shop in your new local area, you will have no options of getting your hands on this dish, other than to book a trip to the UK. Sorry!

Marmite, Walker’s Crisps and HP Sauce, also known as Daddy Sauce, all frequently top the list of most wanted foods for British expats, and unlike fish and chips, these you can easily get your hands on online and ship via courier!

It’s important to be aware of the rules for shipping foods and perishable goods via courier, and also of your country’s import regulations, as not all countries will allow the same goods to be imported. Not all couriers will ship food products either, and it’s wise to check this out before you book your delivery.

Baby products

Some baby products are vital to British parents, and the top most wanted baby products for British expats are:

  • Baby milk / baby powder
  • Baby medications such as Calpol, eczema crèmes and asthma medication

Baby milk and baby powder will always fall under the import regulations for food products, and all baby medicines will fall under the import regulations for medicines.


It’s important to be aware that import regulations can vary tremendously from country to country, and depending on which country you have relocated to, you may have come to terms with the fact that certain items from the UK are simply not possible to import to your new country of residency.

To find out about your new country’s import regulations and restrictions, you should go to the relevant government website, or contact the local import authorities.

Do you have to pay duties and taxes?

If you have relocated to a country inside the EU, then you do not have to pay import duty and taxes when you import goods from the UK. However, if you have relocated to a country outside the EU, then your goods will be subject to customs clearance and possibly also import duty and taxes.

Couriers do not decide whether duty and taxes will apply to your goods – it is the country of import who decides on this, and their say is final.

If your goods are subject to customs clearance, you must provide a customs invoice with a goods description, goods value and reason for export with your parcel. Failure to do so will lead to delays with customs clearance, and could lead to your goods being held or discarded by the customs authorities.

It is strongly advised that you consult your courier company for more information about customs clearance before book your shipment.

Most popular expat destinations

You might not be surprised to find that the top destinations for British expats and mainly sunny ones, but you might be surprised to find that some of them have more import restrictions than others:


All imports of medicines are regulated by the ‘Therapeutic Goods Act’ and must be registered with the Therapeutic Administration in order to be imported into Australia. Import permits are also sometimes required for certain medicines such as those containing steroids, like asthma inhalers, but most common medicines can be imported into Australia under the Personal Importation Scheme.

Importing food into Australia is also strictly regulated and it’s important you check the rule and confirm if any items are prohibited for import into Australia prior to organising any shipping.


As part of the customs clearance process for all items entering the USA, the Food and Drug Administration (commonly referred to as the FDA) will control the imports of food and medicinal products and they are a separate authority to customs. It is important to note that it is illegal to import medicines into the USA without FDA Approval, and shipments containing medicines without FDA approval will be refused entry into the USA, and will be returned to shipper or destroyed. Usually FDA approval can be obtained as part of the customs clearance process, although this may mean that your shipment will incur a 24 hour delay with customs clearance, and if you are a non US citizen you also may be required to provide proof of foreign citizenship as part of the clearance process.


Chinese customs will require all importers of pharmaceutical products to obtain an import licence for customs clearance, whilst a sanitation certificate from the country of origin is required for all food products, although for most food products a purchase receipt from the UK will be sufficient.

Currently there is a huge demand for baby milk and baby powder in China, and if you are sending such items as a personal shipment you must ensure that the shipment value does not exceed RMB 1,000, and that the weight is less than or equal to 5 kilos. If you shipment exceeds these limits you will have to apply for an import licence, and your shipment may incur additional import duty and taxes for being clearance as a non-personal shipment.

Always ASK before you ship

As you can see sending foods and medicines can be a bit tricky, and customs regulations can change frequently, but a good courier company will be able to help you every step of the way, from generating customs invoices to advising you on the various regulations for your products and import country.

Whatever you do, don’t just assume that your shipment will slide through customs unnoticed and hope for the best – always ASK before you ship!

So no matter what you are sending, make sure you have a reliable worldwide parcel service company, check your restrictions and check your costs.

We asked 3 expat bloggers about what they miss about home. Here is what they said…

Amy at Toothbrush Travels (@Im_AmyM on Twitter)

“You can’t really prepare for life as an expat. Sure you can make the transition easier by finding a job before you leave, getting health insurance etc., but until you take the plunge, and live and breathe your new city, you won’t know what to expect…. I didn’t, for one second, think that I would miss sausages. It took a while to realise that the sausages over here are processed and very smooth. None of the texture or flavour a Lincolnshire gives you.”

Denise at The Wine Sleuth (@thewinesleuth on Twitter)

“I think one of the things I miss the most are Cheetos! The original crunchy, cheesy ones; not the puffy ones, for whatever reason, they don’t import them to the UK. I always buy a bag of them whenever I go home.”

“I also miss pancakes and American breakfasts. And proper Mexican food, tamales are impossible to get and being able to buy homemade flour tortillas or corn tortillas at the corner shop…this list goes on but I’ll stop there!”

Rachel from Rachel’s Ranting (@RachelsRantings on Twitter)

“While I have adapted to Brazilian products, I will say that I miss cheese. Oh dear goodness how I miss a strong cheddar! I recently came back from France and filled my suitcase with all kinds of soft cheeses. If you can find them down here, they are so overpriced and not the best quality. I also miss the general selection of products you have in the US in comparison to Brazil.”

“The difference was a shock to the consumer I was raised to be but living in Brazil was like consumerism rehab. In that sense, I am thankful. At the same time, I have a wonderful Mother who regularly sends me goodies like Reese’s pieces, liquorice and mind-numbing gossip magazines!”

What do you miss from home?

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