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Customs warns shoppers about holiday spending

03 February 2005
HM Customs and Excise has issued a warning that unless holidaymakers are careful, money they spend on purchases abroad could go to waste.

If travellers bring back contraband it will be confiscated and their money wasted.

John Lynch, senior Customs operation manager at Heathrow airport, said: "Whether it's a short shopping trip to France or a luxury cruise in exotic seas holidaymakers need to know what they can and can't bring into the UK.

"We want to ensure that holidaymakers do not waste their money on souvenirs that may be taken off them when they get back home, so think before you buy," he added.

Customs is advising people planning to head overseas to know what the import limits are before they travel, and before they spend their cash.

"That seemingly innocent souvenir may be banned in the UK or your shopping may be subject to UK duty and tax," Mr Lynch explained.

Banned goods include things made of coral, ivory, and animal skins, while souvenirs made from endangered animals are also considered contraband. In recent years Customs officers have seized an ostrich foot ashtray, ivory jewellery and ornaments, a 15-foot python skin, and a leopard skin.

There are also strict limits on the amount of alcohol and tobacco that can be brought back - with travellers to EU countries able to bring back more of these than others.

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