Very scary UK Border Force Notice of seizure
March 18, 2021 3:38 AM   Subscribe

I live in the EU and my kid's studying in the UK. Last autumn, the kid forgot some medication (melatonin pills) at home so I sent them to her by mail. Melatonin is OTC where we live, but requires a prescription in the UK. The package never arrived, but now, months later, my kid received a Notice of Seizure. Is this something we should be worried about? Is this safe to ignore? Should we contact the Border Force or will that make things worse?

I sent the package in December. Like an idiot, I just poured the pills in an envelope and didn't stop to consider how that might look to a border agent. Not my brightest moment!

The Notice of Seizure has been posted in January, but was only now forwarded to us by a flatmate. (My kid still hasn't been able to return to the UK after the winter break due to the Covid travel restrictions and is still at home, studying online).

I'm not exactly thinking clearly about this because I'm worried sick, so please help me. I realize you can't give me legal advice, but I'd appreciate any tips or an informed POV!

1 - Is it safe to just ignore this?
2 - Would it make things worse somehow if we try to contact the Border Force? (I think it's too late now to apply for a challenge of seizure or a restoration, there seems to be a 1 month time limit and besides that sounds pointless, costly and difficult.)
3 - My kid's particularly worried if this is now somehow on some permanent UK government record, eg. if they apply for a Settled Status (they're already Pre-Settled) or a job requiring a Statement of Conduct or somesuch thing. Is this a realistic worry?
4 - If we do need legal help, who might we turn to? Neither of us is a UK citizen.
5 - Is there an important aspect to this that I'm not even thinking of?

I'm trying to tell myself that realistically, this can't be a disaster? It's melatonin and not heroin. They must have analyzed the pills by now and realized it's not an illegal substance. There's no indication anywhere that my kid arranged for the package to be sent to them or even knew about its existence. And UK is still a somewhat sane country, right?

Please help, I'm devastated at the thought I may have done something that has messed up my kid's life in any way.
posted by anonymous to Law & Government (2 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
It is absolutely safe to ignore. You do not need to contact them, it will absolutely not effect their status, and you do not need a solicitor.

Having said that, do not contact Border Force because that a) will create a record and b) confirms that you acknowledge you were the intended recipient. (Nobody can stop someone from sending them something, so there currently is not a substantiated problem. Do not substantiate it.)

My background for this is that I belong to a group importing not-legal widgets, and border seizures are routine. Germand and UK seizures are notoriously common! The advice is always to ignore the BF letter and not respond to it, and it has ended there for every single UK buyer. There's no reason for that not to be the case for your student.
posted by DarlingBri at 4:07 AM on March 18 [19 favorites]

I had this same experience living in the UK, a relative back in the US sent us some type of food for Christmas, and it was seized. We got the same notice and were totally terrified but it was just a "Someone sent you something but, yeah, nope, you can't receive that here, we'll just sort that for you by putting it in the bin" and that's that.
posted by pazazygeek at 1:44 PM on March 18

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