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28th April 2020

Requirements for Importing CBD into the UK

CBD law is an uncertain area and it’s important to know exactly what you’re dealing with when it comes to CBD in the UK. Generally speaking, CBD is legal in the UK and so there shouldn’t be too many problems. Having said that, there are a few considerations that you should know about.

In this blog, we take a look at the regulations and requirements for importing CBD into the UK.

The information below was correct at the time of writing - 23rd April 2020.

THC content

The first thing to note about importing CBD into the UK is that only products with a maximum of 0.2% THC content are legal. Therefore, if you attempt to bring any products with a higher THC content into the UK, it is likely that you will be stopped.

In short, CBD products or hemp with more than 0.2% THC content cannot be imported into the UK.

Importing CBD from EU countries

While the UK is still technically part of the EU, there shouldn’t be too many issues with importing CBD products into the UK from other European countries. This is because of the EU free movement of goods, which states that products can circulate freely within member states. The only exception to this is if the goods are completely illegal in any given state.

However, the start of Britain’s withdrawal from the EU officially began in January 2020. At the moment we are still in the transition period which means that the same laws apply as before. This could change once the details of the exit are approved, but the transition period may be extended for even longer due to the COVID-19 pandemic, so it is likely that we will stay within the single market for the time being at least.

Importing CBD from other countries

Since CBD (with less than 0.2% THC) is legal in the UK, no strict requirements apply for importing CBD into the UK as long as it passes the border authority checks.

However, when you are taking CBD through other countries, it’s important that you check the laws in that specific country as many countries outside of Europe have stricter laws in place.

For more on this, you can read our guide: Where is CBD Legal in the World?

Importing CBD to sell

If you are importing CBD to sell in the UK, rather than for personal use, you need to be aware of the new guidelines announced by the UK’s Food Standards Authority.

CBD has officially been classed as a novel food in the UK and the FSA has set a deadline for those selling CBD to apply for Novel Food approval (31st March 2021). This applies to any CBD products which would be classed as either a food or a food supplement.

Related article: Novel Food Regulations and CBD in the UK

Where the products are cosmetics or vapes, rather than food or food supplements, you will need to meet the safety requirements in those markets. Cosmetics require a Cosmetic Product Safety Report (CPSR). Vape products should comply with non-nicotine e-liquid regulation i.e General Products Safety Directive.

Cannabis-based medicines

We mentioned earlier that CBD products containing more than a 0.2% THC content are illegal in the UK and therefore cannot be imported. However, there are some exceptions when it comes to medical CBD and cannabis products.

A select few licensed/approved medical cannabis products can also be imported from abroad to be prescribed to patients who need it. An example of this is Sativex, an oral spray which was the first cannabis-based medicine to be licensed in the UK. It contains a 50/50 mix of CBD and is prescribed for those suffering from multiple sclerosis (MS).

Epidiolex is another cannabis-based medicine that has been approved in the UK but it doesn’t contain any THC, only CBD. However, unlike the forms of CBD that are sold to the general public – like the strengths of 2.5%, 5% and 10% that we sell here at Mellow – Epidiolex contains a highly purified form of CBD so the active ingredient is almost 100%. That is why it’s licensed for medical use only. Epidiolex is used to treat seizures caused by two forms of epilepsy and is a controlled substance, obtained through prescription only.

Although CBD law is known for being complicated and uncertain, we hope this blog has brought a little more clarity surrounding importing it into the UK. The important thing to remember is that any CBD you possess should not have more than 0.2% THC content.

For more information on the rules and regulations surrounding CBD, both in the UK and worldwide, you can take a look at our CBD law section.