Customs And Goods
The UK has relatively strict laws controlling which goods can and cannot be brought into the country. Selective customs checks are run by the UK Border Agency at arrival ports. Particularly stringent laws apply to the movement of animals, except from within the EU, where an animal passport system operates, providing proof of vaccination against rabies. The British Isles are rabies-free, and the government and the people want to keep it that way. Signs in several languages are displayed prominently at even the smallest of boat landings all around the coast.
Owing to the abolition in 1993 of customs duty on goods for personal use when travelling across EU borders, it has become popular among the British to bring back large quantities of alcohol and tobacco bought at lower tax rates in Continental Europe. However, the practice is open to abuse, with organised criminals trying to illegally import large amounts for the purposes of selling on at a profit. Customs laws are therefore strict for the importing of alcohol and tobacco for non-personal use and if a Customs officer thinks that the amount you are trying to bring into the country from the EU is excessive, particularly if in a commercial vehicle as opposed to a private car, you may be questioned further, or be asked to prove that it is for your own consumption, although ultimately an EU citizen is backed by the EU's free trade laws and allowed unlimited personal quantities. The fines can be severe, and you also run the risk of the goods and the vehicle they are being transported in being confiscated. Importing an excessive amount of alcohol in a private car is more likely to result in action being taken for overloading the vehicle, which is a police matter rather than a customs matter.
Most ports of entry that receive traffic from non-EU origins use the European Union's red/green/blue channel system. Ports of entry from EU origins are still manned by customs officers who take more of an interest in controlled substances e.g. illegal drugs than alcohol or tobacco.
Coaches are the cheapest way to travel to the UK from France and the Benelux.Eurolines offer daily services from Paris, Amsterdam and Brussels toLondon Victoria coach station. Daily overnight coaches and limited day coaches travel between the UK and Ireland. Connections are available to most parts of the UK via the domestic National Express coach system, for most destinations it is cheaper to purchase this when purchasing your Eurolines tickets as discounts are available. Journeys take about 8-14 hours.
Eurolines will also take you to/from other major European cities. Taking a budget flight is normally cheaper but with a greater environmental impact, and spares you from a 24h+ bus journey.
Various other operators compete with Eurolines, mostly between Poland and the UK; these come and go.
See the city articles for more details on routes, timings and costs. Ferry routes to British Mainland
There are a large number of ferry routes into the UK from continental Europe. Newcastle serves a route from Amsterdam in the Netherlands. Harwich has ferries from Esbjerg in Denmark and Hoek van Holland in the Netherlands. You can also sail from Rotterdam in the Netherlands or Zeebrugge in Belgium to Hull, or from Zeebrugge to Rosyth, near Edinburgh note that this service will cease carrying passengers in Dec 2010 (https://www.norfolkline-ferries.co.uk/EN/Scotland_Belgium_ferries/News/Update_on_Rosyth_Zeebrugge_Service/). There is a regular connection between Ramsgate and Oostende in Belgium. There are 4 sailings a day and prices vary between â¬50 to â¬84.
Dover is one of Britain's most popular passenger ports with sailings from Zeebrugge, Dunkerque and Calais in France. The Dover-Calais route is particularly busy, with three companies competing and up to 50 sailings per day. The ferry between Dover and Calais costs around Â£12-18 each way if on foot or bicycle, and around Â£80 for a car, although big discounts are available if booked in advance or with special offers. Passengers travelling from Calais or Dunkerque by ferry to the UK go through UK passport/identity card checks after French exit checks before boarding, and UK customs checks on arrival in the UK.
On the south coast, Portsmouth serves ferries from Le Havre, Caen, Cherbourg, St. Malo and Bilbao in Spain and there are speedy services between Dieppe and Newhaven. The other route from Spain is Santander to Plymouth, Plymouth also has ferries from Roscoff, Poole has ferries to Cherbourg as well as the Channel Islands.
From the Republic of Ireland, ports of entry include Pembroke, Fishguard and Holyhead and Swansea. There are sailings from Dublin to Holyhead, and Liverpool.
You can also hop onto one of the ships of the Cunard Line (http://www.cunard.com/) - they depart from New York every month or so. Prices start at around Â£900.
Other 'ferries' operate to various destinations across the world - the RMS St Helena (http://www.rms-st-helena.com/) runs from Ascension Island, Saint Helena, Walvis Bay and Cape Town to Portland near Weymouth twice a year and Grimaldi Lines (http://www.grimaldi-freig...) operate a service carrying cars and passengers from Buenos Aires about once every 9 days.
The Channel Tunnel has provided a rail/road connection since 1994. Shuttle trains operated by Eurotunnel carry cars from Calais, France to Folkestone, the journey taking around 40 minutes. Fares start at Â£49 one way and can be booked on the Eurotunnel website (http://www.eurotunnel.com...). On arrival at Folkestone, you can drive on to the M20 motorway which heads towards London. Passengers travelling from France to the UK undergo UK passport/identity card and customs checks in Coquelles after the French exit checks before departure, rather than on arrival in the UK.
Car ferries also operate to many parts of the UK from other European countries - see the 'by boat' section below.
Drivers entering Northern Ireland from the Republic of Ireland will usually find they have done so without noticing. There are no border controls, and only the major roads will display signs stating that you are leaving one country and entering the other. However, the appropriate travel documents for your nationality are still required for cross-border travel despite the lack of border controls and you are liable under the laws of the country you are attempting to enter if you don't have any. It should be noted that road signs in the Republic of Ireland are in kilometres while those in Northern Ireland are in miles so it is advisable to take note of the differences in signs and road markings when driving in border areas.