These laws can be complex, and the issues can vary depending upon what item is being bought or sold, and the countries in which the buyer and seller reside.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are some types of items that could be subject to import restrictions?
While this list is not inclusive, items that are commonly subject to restrictions include copyrighted works, trademarked items, patented items, and items requiring CE marking.
Where can I learn more about import restrictions and costs?
For information about the importation of goods into the UK, please visit the HM Customs and Excise website - opens in new window or tab. For information about the importation of goods into Ireland, visit the Irish Tax and Customs website - opens in new window or tab.
Read our full policy
Importation of goods into the UK or Ireland policy overview
If you are importing or exporting goods into the UK or Ireland from another country, either by selling or buying items listed on eBay, you are responsible for ensuring that the importation or exportation of that type of product complies with applicable law. These laws often are complex, and issues will vary depending upon exactly what item is involved and the countries in which the buyer and seller reside.
As a general rule, most items can be exported and imported freely within the countries of European Union. However, you should always check the local legislation for any particular item you wish to export or import. Some countries restrict, for example, exportation of certain artefacts and antiques that are considered as part of a national heritage. Many countries have restrictions on items like tobacco, alcohol as well as hazardous materials.
If you plan to export or import items to or from any other country, it is advisable to check the local legislation.
Four reasons to check applicable laws before importing goods into the UK:
- UK or Irish Customs could stop and seize your product, and you could be fined or face other liability because of the seizure
- You could face legal liability from the owners of trademarks, copyrights, or other intellectual property rights that might be involved
- You could face other civil or criminal liability, depending upon the type of product involved
- You could have your listing ended early by eBay and/or have your eBay account suspended
Types of goods that might be subject to import restrictions
- Copyrighted works
The owners of copyright in literature, music, movies, software, video games, and photos have certain rights under English and Irish copyright law to prevent the importation of goods which were intended for distribution in another country. Importation of such products into the UK or Ireland without permission may be an infringement. This may be true even if the good is a genuine copy and legal to distribute in the other country.
- Trademarked (branded) items
The owners of the trademarks on branded goods have certain rights under trademark law to prevent the importation of goods, which were intended for distribution in another country. Importation of such products into the UK or Ireland without written permission may be an infringement. This may be true even if the good is a genuine copy and legal to distribute in the other country.
- Patented items
The owners of patents have certain rights under patent law to prevent the importation of goods which employ technology protected by a patent. Importation of such products into the UK or Ireland without permission or licence may be an infringement. This may be true even if the good is a genuine copy and legal to distribute in the other country.
eBay strongly recommends that you carefully review English and Irish laws and other sources of information concerning importation of goods into the UK and Ireland, and (if necessary) consult with an expert in this field before completing any transactions. The information and links provided below are not exhaustive, but are simply a starting point so that you can quickly familiarise yourself with some of the regulations in this area.
- Items requiring CE marking
Certain products (e.g. mobile phones, electrical items and toys) are subject to certification standards and require a CE marking prior to implementation. Find out more about which products require CE marking - opens in new window or tab.
Here are some examples of potentially infringing imports:
- Music CDs that were intended for distribution in the United States (even if they are genuine copies)
- Videos that were intended for distribution in Canada (even if they are genuine copies)
- A video game player or software that is the Japanese version of the player or game and not intended for use in the UK or Ireland. (Note that the offering of 'mod chips', 'emulators' or other devices intended to enable the use of unauthorised imports also may breach copyright laws)
- A computer hard drive that uses processes or technology that has been patented by someone in the UK or Ireland
- A t-shirt with a logo that was authorised for use abroad
- A Pokemon® toy that was intended for sale in Japan only
- Information about importation of goods into the UK: HM Customs and Excise - opens in new window or tab website
- Information about importation of goods into Ireland: Irish Tax and Customs - opens in new window or tab website
- Information on tax and customs charges for goods sent from abroad: GOV.UK - opens in new window or tab website
- eBay information on copyright and trademark basics