Notice

Notice 3: bringing your belongings, pets and private motor vehicles to UK from outside the EU

Updated 6 March 2017

Foreword

This notice cancels and replaces Notice 3 (April 2006). Details of any changes to the previous version can be found in paragraph 1.2 of this notice.

1. About the notice, the law and your rights

1.1 What is this notice about?

It tells you how to import your personal belongings and private motor vehicles into the UK from outside the European Union (EU). If you are bringing your private pleasure craft into the UK, you should read Notice 8: sailing your pleasure craft to and from the UK

If you are importing direct into another EU country, we suggest you contact the customs authorities for that country. Most have customs representatives in their embassies abroad.

You can find general information about your rights and entitlements in Sections 1 and 2, and advice on how to go through Customs on your arrival in the UK in Section 3.

Sections 4 to 7 tell you about the duty and tax reliefs that may apply to your belongings and private vehicle, and the relevant conditions you must meet. These conditions vary, depending on whether you are visiting, moving to, or returning to the EU.

Section 8 explains how your belongings are assessed for duty and tax if they do not qualify for relief, and Section 9 directs you where to find the information on how to import and register your private vehicle.

There is a glossary at Section 10 which gives the meaning of some of the particular words, phrases and abbreviations used.

1.2 What has changed?

The changes are:

  • the amendments announced in Update 1 issued in January 2007 have been included
  • there are revised procedures for appealing against a customs decision, please read paragraph 1.5
  • section 4 concerning relief available to non EU visitors has been restructured, the monetary limit for personal effects (excluding pets or firearms), that do not require a formal customs declaration has been increased to €10,000, the relief available has also been re-titled ‘Temporary Admission’ (TA) to reflect the correct term
  • section 6 concerning setting up secondary homes has been deleted entirely to take account of changes implemented under Council Regulation (EC) No 274/2008 where that relief was abolished, the remaining sections after this part have then been re-numbered accordingly

1.3 What law covers this notice?

For customs purposes, the laws on which this notice is based are:

  • the Customs and Excise Duties (Personal Reliefs for Goods Permanently Imported) Order 1992
  • Council Regulation (EC) No 1186/2009
  • Council Regulation (EEC) No 2913/92
  • Commission Regulation (EEC) No 2454/93
  • Value Added Tax (Imported Goods) Relief Order 1984

This notice is not the law. It is our view of the law and nothing in this notice takes the place of the law. Anyone who gives false information about goods declared under these arrangements may be liable to penalties under the Finance Act 2003

1.4 What you can do if you receive an adverse Customs decision from HM Revenue and Customs - right to be heard

When you receive an adverse customs decision from HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) you’ll first be issued with a Pre-Notification Communication explaining the reasons why the adverse decision has been made. This pre-notification is called your ‘Right to be Heard’ and once issued, you’ll have a period of 30 calendar days in which you may make further representations or provide more information to HMRC concerning the decision.

1.5 What do I do if I disagree with a Customs decision?

If you don’t agree with any decision issued to you there are 2 options available.

Within 30 days of the date of the decision you can either:

  • request a review of the decision by someone not involved in making the disputed decision your request must be in writing and should set out the reasons why you don’t agree with the decision - please write to:

HM Revenue and Customs
Customs Directorate
Review and Appeals Team
7th Floor South West
Alexander House
21 Victoria Avenue
Southend on Sea
Essex
SS99 1AA

  • appeal direct to the Tribunal who are independent of HMRC

If you opt to have your case reviewed you’ll still be able to appeal to the Tribunal if you disagree with the outcome.

Further information relating to reviews and appeals is contained in leaflet HMRC1: HM Revenue and Customs decisions: what to do if you disagree

1.6 Where can I obtain further information?

This notice explains the general principles of the Customs procedures available to you. It does not attempt to cover every aspect in detail. Further ways to contact HMRC for general advice can be found at Imports and exports: general enquiries

Copies of the Official Journal can be obtained from:

The Stationery Office
PO Box 29
Norwich
NR3 1GN

Phone orders and general enquiries on Telephone: 0870 600 5522.

Email: customer.services@tso.co.uk

The Stationery Office website or from ‘The Stationery Office Bookshops’, please read The Tariff Volume 1, Part 1, Section 1.

2. General information

2.1 Am I entitled to any duty free allowances?

Yes. In addition to any of the reliefs in Sections 4 to 7 for which you may qualify, when you arrive from outside the EU you are entitled to the relevant allowances for alcoholic drinks, tobacco products, perfume, toilet water and other goods, (popularly known as ‘duty frees’) shown in our Notice 1: travelling to the UK. These allowances apply to goods obtained outside the EU or bought duty or tax free when leaving the EU and which have travelled in with you.

2.2 What happens if I have pets?

Your pet will be part of your personal belongings but please read paragraphs 2.3 and 2.4 about some of the restrictions on importing live animals.

2.3 Are there any prohibited and restricted goods?

Yes, some goods are strictly controlled.

Prohibited goods

Are those banned completely. They include unlicensed drugs, offensive weapons, indecent and obscene material featuring children, pornographic material, counterfeit and pirated goods, meat, milk and other animal products.

Restricted goods

Can be imported only if you have authority to do so. They include all items that need an import licence, such as firearms, explosives and ammunition, endangered species, certain live animals and plants and their produce, and radio transmitters.

Other live animals

Animals imported for commercial transactions, such as retail sales, breeding, loans, or competitions will need proper declaration via C88 Single administrative document (SAD).

For more information, visit Importing live animals or animal products from non-EU countries

Food and plants

There are important controls and procedures in place for bringing food and plants into the UK, buying plants online or by post, or bringing food with you from outside the EU.

Further details and contact numbers for advice can be found in Notice 1: travelling to the UK

2.4 Pet travel

Pet cats, dogs and ferrets (including guide and assistance dogs) must meet certain conditions to be able to enter or re-enter the UK without quarantine from listed countries.

They must have:

  • a microchip
  • been vaccinated against rabies (at a minimum age of 12 weeks)
  • an EU pet passport or official third country veterinary certificate
  • tapeworm treatment (for dogs only)
  • an authorised carrier and approved routes
  • stopped 21 days from the date of the rabies vaccination before travelling

Clarification: there are no restrictions on pet rodents, rabbits, birds, ornamental fish, invertebrates, amphibians and reptiles arriving in the UK from other EU countries subject to other normal restrictions on endangered species.

2.5 Pets travelling to the UK from an unlisted non-EU country

To determine whether you are travelling from a listed or unlisted country, please read Pet travel: entering and returning to the UK

Pets (cats or dogs) require:

  • a microchip
  • to be vaccinated against rabies (at a minimum age of 12 weeks)
  • blood test - the vet must take the blood sample at least 30 days after the rabies vaccination (the date of vaccination counts as day 0 not day 1)
  • an EU pet passport or official third country veterinary certificate
  • tapeworm treatment (dogs only)
  • to use an approved carrier using an authorised route
  • to wait 3 calendar months from date of blood sample was taken before travelling, the vet must give you a copy of the test results and it must show that the vaccination was successful

Pet rabbits and rodents from countries outside the EU must spend 4 months in quarantine and have a rabies import licence and must enter into the UK at a Border Inspection Post (BIP).

There may be also other specific requirements for certain types of animals arriving to the UK from various countries around the world. For import requirements for other types of pets please contact the APHA Imports Team on email: Imports@apha.gsi.gov.uk.

Note: in all instances for paragraphs 2.4 and 2.5 where you may have further questions or need to check for the latest information, please refer to Pet travel: entering and returning to the UK

2.6 Guide dogs and assistance dogs

Assistance dogs are allowed to travel in the aircraft cabin with their owners. Please check that the airline has an agreement with Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) to carry assistance dogs or you may face delays when arriving in Great Britain.

The Guide Dogs Association website has more advice about assistance dogs travelling.

When the pet arrives in the UK, the pet checker will scan your pet’s microchip and check your documents. If you do not have the correct documents or your pet has not been properly prepared for travel it will be put into quarantine or sent back to the country it travelled from. You’ll be liable for the cost for this.

More information on bringing your pets into the UK is available at Pet travel: entering and returning to the UK

3. How to go through Customs

3.1 What should I do when I arrive at Customs?

In most cases you’ll be able to go through the Green ‘nothing to declare’ Channel, or the Blue Channel if arriving directly from the EU.

However, you must go to the Red Point or into the Red Channel and declare the following to us:

  • ‘duty frees’ exceeding the allowance limits (please read paragraph 2.1)
  • prohibited or restricted goods (please read paragraph 2.3)
  • goods for sale
  • belongings or vehicles which need to be declared under Sections 4 to 7 of this notice in order to be considered for relief from duty and tax

If you are not sure what to do, declare your goods via the Red Point/Channel.

3.2 How do I declare?

Tell our officer what goods have arrived with you. It may help if you have a written list of the goods concerned, but the officer may still want to question you, examine your luggage or ask you to make a written declaration. If your goods need to be declared under Sections 4 to 7 of this notice in order to be considered for relief from duty and tax, you must fill in and sign our forms as follows:

  • if you are a non EU resident bringing the following items for temporary use in the UK (please read paragraph 4.1), you’ll need to complete form C88/SAD for:
    • personal effects reasonably required for your journey over €10,000 in value
    • pets
    • firearms
  • if you are applying for Transfer of Residence (ToR) (please read Section 5) from outside the EU to set up your normal home in the UK, you should use form ToR01 if you’re:
    • bringing personal belongings into the UK
    • bringing pets into the UK
    • a student coming to the EU for a period of full time study
    • importing a private motor vehicle, aircraft or yacht to the UK (the importer must submit the ToR application within 12 months of the date of entry into the UK)
  • if you are bringing your private motor vehicle back to the EU after travelling with it overseas, then use Form C179B
  • if you are paying duty and/or tax on your private motor vehicle, or for your private yacht, and because it does not qualify for any of the reliefs dealt with in Sections 4 to 7 of this notice, then use form C384 for motor vehicles and C384 (vessels) for your private yacht

Most people employ a shipping agent to look after their import declarations if they can’t deal with us directly.

3.3 Where do I get the Customs forms?

From your shipping agent. Otherwise, contact our Customs helpline

The forms are also available on our website at import and export forms

3.4 Can Customs ask me to open my luggage?

Yes, you must produce your luggage and its contents if our officer asks you to.

3.5 What items do I pay duty and tax on?

Anything which does not fulfil all the conditions for relief. If you are claiming relief we may also require security for the duty and tax (normally a cash deposit or banker’s guarantee) until you prove all the relief conditions are fulfilled. The various reliefs available are explained in Sections 4 to 7.

If you have paid duty and tax on the items and think you should be repaid, please read Notice 199: imported goods, customs procedures and customs debt.

3.6 How much must I pay and when?

Our officer will work out the duty and tax and tell you how much to pay. When you pay this sum, you’ll get a receipt. Keep the receipt as proof that you have paid duty and tax. Section 8 tells you what charges may be payable.

You must pay duty and tax at the time the belongings or the vehicle are brought in.

If you can’t pay there and then, we’ll keep your belongings or vehicle and give you a receipt for them. You can get them back when you pay the sum due within the time limits shown on the back of the receipt. You must also pay postage if you want us to send them to you.

3.7 How can I pay?

Usually by one of the following:

  • an approved debit card, subject to the normal conditions of acceptance
  • uniform euro cheques supported by a uniform euro cheque card and domestic cheques supported by a valid cheque card to the usual conditions of acceptance
  • a banker’s Sterling draft or Sterling cheque, guaranteed by an approved bank
  • an approved credit card, subject to the normal conditions of acceptance and limited to £1,000
  • travellers cheques in UK sterling, or euros issued by an approved bank
  • cash in UK sterling or euros

Unguaranteed cheques are not acceptable for payment of Customs charges.

Note: if payments are made by cheque or banker’s draft they must be drawn on a bank which is approved by us. Most British banks have our approval.

When converting the price paid from foreign currency into sterling, we’ll use the rate of exchange in force at the time you present the documents.

4. Visitors to the UK

If you are a non-EU resident visiting the UK you can claim relief from payment of duty and tax under TA. This is for your personal belongings or private motor vehicle, but only if you intend to use them while you are here, or take them with you when you leave to return to your normal residence outside the EU.

4.1 A visitor’s personal effects

You can claim relief for personal belongings that you’ll use during your visit and are reasonably required for your journey. This includes items such as clothing, toiletries, personal jewellery and other articles clearly of a personal nature including pets. An illustrative list of items is given in our Notice 200: Temporary Admission

You can claim relief for your period of stay in the EU up to a maximum of 24 months.

If you are a student coming to stay in the UK for the purpose of full-time study, you do not need to use the TA procedures for the following items:

  • clothing and household linen
  • items you’ll use in your studies, for example calculators and personal computers
  • household effects for furnishing your student accommodation

There is a different relief available for those items which covers the whole period of your study. You can claim that relief by declaring the items as explained in paragraph 3.2, and completing form C3 if appropriate.

4.2 As a visitor, how do I declare personal effects?

For personal belongings under €10,000 in value (except pets and firearms)

At import - you can go through the Green ‘nothing to declare’ Channel as explained in paragraph 3.1.

If the items need to be cleared from a port or airport inventory system on arrival please read the last information box below.

When you re-export these items no formal re-export declaration is required. Your declaration will be considered to be made and accepted when you leave the EU. However, if they need to be cleared from a port or airport inventory system on re-export, you or your agent will need to complete a customs clearance request form C21 to clear the inventory. On the C21 quote customs procedure code (CPC) 10 00 041.

If your personal belongings are over €10,000 in value, or pets and sporting firearms (regardless of their value)

On import you need to apply for Simplified TA authorisation. You need to make a declaration on form C88 quoting CPC 53 00 D04 (or CPC 53 00 003 where VAT only is due) and provide security. Notice 200: Temporary Admission explains how to make the declaration for a simplified authorisation.

In addition, for:

  • firearms, you’ll need a UK police ‘British Visitor’s Permit’ for further information contact the relevant UK Police firearms licencing authority in the area where your UK sponsor lives
  • pets, please read paragraph 2.3 about import requirements

When you re-export the personal belongings you’ll need to complete a C88 re-export declaration quoting CPC 31 53 000.

If your personal belongings need to be cleared from a port or airport inventory system on arrival

You or your agent need to complete a customs clearance request form C21 to clear the inventory. Quote customs procedure code (CPC) 00 00 040 and complete the entry declaration with the details listed in paragraph 2.4 (CPC 00 00 040) of the Trade Tariff Import CPCs.

Note: if the above is not followed and your goods are declared to free circulation, duty and tax will be collected as appropriate. If you need to make a retrospective application for relief please read Notice 200: Temporary Admission Section 5 for further details.

4.3 A visitor’s private motor vehicle

You can claim relief

Provided the vehicle is for your own private use only during your visit and:

  • it is registered outside the EU or, if not registered, belongs to you or someone else who has their normal home outside the EU
  • you do not sell, lend or hire it out or otherwise dispose of it in the EU
  • you re-export the vehicle from the EU within 6 months (if you are a student or someone fulfilling an assignment of a specific duration for example a work contract, the vehicle can remain in the EU for the period of your studies or until the end of your assignment)

Note: you need to be aware of the UK’s licensing and registration requirements, please read Importing vehicles into the UK

No formal application for authorisation or customs declaration to claim relief is required

You can go through the ‘nothing to declare’ Channel. This will be treated as:

  • a declaration that you and the vehicle you are importing are eligible for relief
  • an application for TA authorisation

You may also complete a simple notification using form C110. This can be done before or after you arrive in the UK. This notification is not mandatory and does not need to be presented to be stamped by an officer on arrival but it will help you identify that you are claiming relief if the vehicle is stopped for verification checks. Complete the form in duplicate and send one copy to our written enquiries team at the address shown in paragraph 1.6. Keep the remaining copy with the vehicle whilst it is in use within the UK.

If checks are carried out and you have not completed a C110 you may be asked to complete the form as part of those checks.

If the vehicle needs to be cleared from a port or airport inventory system on arrival

You or your agent will need to complete a customs clearance request form C21 to clear the inventory. On the C21 you should quote CPC 00 00 020 and and complete the entry declaration with the details listed in paragraph 2.3 (CPC 00 00 020) of the Imports: customs procedure codes.

When you are re-exporting the vehicle

No formal customs declaration is required. Your declaration for re-export is considered to be made and accepted when the vehicle leaves the EU.

If you completed form C110 when you arrived enter the date the vehicle is re-exported on the C110 copy that you kept and send it to our written enquiries team at the address shown in paragraph 4.5.

If the vehicle is recorded on a port or airport inventory system at departure

To clear the inventory you or your agent will need to complete a customs clearance request form C21. On the C21 quote CPC 10 00 041.

4.4 Export licence for vehicles over 50 years old

You’ll need an individual export licence when:

  • you take your vehicle to another EU member state:
    • and that vehicle is over 50 years old and valued at £65,000 or more
    • and is foreign registered
    • and has been in the UK for more than 3 months
  • when you re-export your vehicle outside the EU:
    • which is over 75 years old and valued at £30,400 or more

4.5 What if I want to extend the period of my visit, or decide to transfer my normal home to the UK/EU?

The period allowed under TA can, in exceptional circumstances, be extended within reasonable limits.

Please inform us as soon as possible using the contact details in paragraph 1.6.

If you decide to transfer your normal home to the UK, you may qualify for the other reliefs explained in this notice. You must notify our Written Enquiries Team immediately and give them details of your personal effects and vehicle.

4.6 Is there any relief on vehicles imported by EU residents intending to emigrate?

If you usually live in the EU and intend to emigrate outside the EU, you can temporarily import a vehicle from outside the EU.

You’ll not have to pay duty and tax as long as:

  • you declare the vehicle to us as explained in paragraph 4.3
  • you re-export the vehicle within 3 months of its arrival in the EU
  • if requested, you can provide evidence of your emigration

If you do not qualify for the reliefs from duty and tax under Sections 4 to 7, please read Section 8 on paying duty and tax.

Please read also Section 9 on registering, licensing and insuring your vehicle.

5. Moving to or returning to the UK on ToR

For everyone who moves their normal place of residence to the UK (including returning expatriate UK citizens). It may also apply if you originally came to the UK as a visitor, but now intend to move your normal home to the UK.

Note: The importer must submit the TOR application within 12 months of the date of entry into the UK. Please read Section 6 if you are coming to live in the UK and are newly-wed or shortly to marry.

5.1 Can I get relief from duty and tax on ToR?

Yes. You can bring in your personal belongings or private vehicle free of duty and tax so long as you:

  • are moving your normal place of residence to the UK only
  • have had your normal place of residence outside the EU for a continuous period of at least 12 months
  • have possessed and used the belongings for at least 6 months outside the EU before they are imported
  • did not get them under a duty/tax free scheme (but please read paragraph 5.3)
  • declare them to us as explained in paragraph 3.2
  • will keep them for your personal use
  • do not sell, lend, hire out or otherwise dispose of them in the UK or anywhere else in the EU within 12 months of the date of importation, unless you notify us first and pay duty and VAT on disposal

Note: the 12 month restriction period on the sale or disposal of your belongings or vehicle will start on the date they arrive and are granted relief.

Belongings include clothing, furniture, portable tools of trade, certain animals as pets and other household and personal effects, but not alcoholic drinks or tobacco products: you’ll not get relief on those unless they travel in with you and qualify for the duty-free allowances - please read paragraph 2.1.

We’ll normally waive the second and third conditions listed above if you could not meet them due to circumstances beyond your control. Explain your position to us when you declare your personal belongings or private vehicle.

Generally speaking, ‘possession’ means ‘to have’ rather than ‘to own’ but there are particular restrictions in relation to company vehicles imported by travelling sales representatives. Our Customs helpline can give you full details.

Eligible goods are those items that are your household effects and personal property and for your own use. It does not extend to items held under trusts, corporations, companies, associations, groups or organisations. Please read Customs Information Paper 56 (2014): entitlement to relief for further details.

Please read paragraph 5.6 if any of your belongings or vehicle were previously taken out of the EU.

Other goods and vehicles imported for commercial purposes will not qualify for this particular relief. However, if you are also transferring your business to the UK, you may be able to claim the alternative relief on imported capital goods. Please read Notice 343: importing capital goods free of duty and VAT.

5.2 Can I still get relief from duty and tax on ToR if I plan to live somewhere else in the EU?

No. We can only grant the Relief to you if you intend to live in the UK. If you plan to set up your natural residence anywhere else within the EU, you have to seek permission from that country’s Customs Authority. We therefore recommend you apply for the relief well in advance of you shipping any consignments to the EU.

You have two options available:

  • before importing your household effects and personal property into the EU, you or your shipping agent should apply direct for the Relief to the Customs Authority in charge of where you plan to live
  • after shipping your consignment of household effects and personal property into the UK as the first ‘point-of-arrival’, an application for the relief should be made direct to the customs authority responsible for where you intend to move home too, during which time your goods are either stored pending the decision on granting the relief, or the goods can be moved under transit procedures

5.3 What if I bought my belongings or vehicle under a duty/tax-free scheme?

You’ll not get relief from duty and tax on these when you transfer your normal place of residence unless you meet the other conditions in paragraph 5.1 and that when you obtained the items you were:

  • carrying out diplomatic duties while serving overseas outside the territory of the EU, and then returning to UK/EU in relation to the provisions available under Article 5 of Regulation 1186/2009
  • a member of an officially recognised international organisation
  • a member of North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) or the UK forces, or the civilian staff accompanying them
  • the recognised spouse or civil partner of one of these
  • you can prove duty and tax have since been paid and have not been, nor will be, refunded

5.4 Can I send belongings or a vehicle in advance of my arrival?

Yes, but they must arrive no more than 6 months before you move or return to the UK, unless occupational commitments have forced you to leave your normal home outside the UK before being able to move to the UK as intended - in which case we’ll allow an appropriate extension. You may have to give us security for the duty and tax. We’ll discharge the security when you arrive and can prove you qualify for the relief.

5.5 Can I import belongings or a vehicle after my arrival?

Yes, but they should normally arrive no more than 12 months after the date you move or return to the UK. We may waive this condition in exceptional circumstances if you can provide us with a reasonable explanation for the delay.

5.6 What if my belongings or vehicle were previously taken out of the EU?

Section 7 explains how belongings or vehicles taken out of the EU may be returned free of Customs Duty, Excise Duty and VAT under a different relief. Generally, the conditions for relief under Section 7 are not as strict as in paragraph 5.1. For example, there is no 12 month disposal restriction on the goods after they have been imported. If you make the position clear to us, and meet the relevant conditions, we’ll grant whichever relief is more favourable for you.

5.7 How do I prove ‘use and possession’ of my belongings or a vehicle outside the EU?

You should provide us with any official documentation and papers you have, that will help show you have used and possessed these items for your own personal family use, for example:

  • any purchase invoices, dated delivery notes, repair or maintenance bills, guarantees or warranties
  • any foreign registration or licensing papers
  • any police certificate of registration
  • any insurance policy documents, especially household contents lists of the items in your previous residence

5.8 What if I inherited any of my belongings or vehicle?

You should read Notice 368: importing inherited goods free of duty and VAT about importing them. Generally the conditions for relief under that notice are not as strict as in paragraph 5.1, but do require you to provide us documented evidence that you are entitled to inherit these items.

If you make the position clear to us, and provide the necessary evidence to show you meet the relevant conditions, we’ll grant this relief to you.

If you do not qualify for the reliefs from duty and tax under Sections 4 to 7, please read Section 8 on paying duty and tax.

Please read also Section 9 on registering, licensing and insuring your vehicle.

6. Marriage relief on ToR to the UK

For newly-weds or those shortly to marry who are coming to live in the UK. Remember, the same provisions apply for UK only, as listed above in paragraphs 5.1 and 5.2.

6.1 How do I qualify for this relief?

You can bring in the wedding outfits of the bride and groom and your other household effects free of duty and tax, if you:

  • have had your normal home outside the EU for a continuous period of at least 12 months
  • are moving your normal home to the UK on marriage
  • declare them to us as explained in paragraph 3.2 along with proof of the marriage and
  • do not sell, lend, hire or otherwise dispose of them in the UK or elsewhere in the EU within 12 months of importation, unless you notify us first and pay duty and VAT on disposal HMRC Customs helpline can tell you how to do this

We’ll normally waive the first condition if you could not meet it due to circumstances beyond your control. Explain the position to our officer when you declare your belongings.

It does not matter:

  • how long you have had the goods for the purpose of this relief
  • if the actual wedding takes place in or outside the EU
  • if you are the only one moving your normal home to the UK because your spouse already lives here

6.2 What is excluded from relief?

Excluded from relief are:

  • motor vehicles and their trailers
  • caravans
  • mobile homes
  • pleasure boats
  • aircraft
  • alcoholic drinks and tobacco products

Although excluded from this relief, some of these may alternatively qualify for relief under Sections 5 or 7.

6.3 Can wedding gifts get duty and tax relief too?

Yes, they can come in free of duty and tax so long as you meet the conditions in paragraphs 6.1 and 6.2, and the gifts are:

  • intended for you
  • of a kind normally given on marriage
  • given by persons who normally live outside the EU
  • declared to us (please read paragraph 3.2) along with proof of the marriage

This relief does not apply to alcoholic drinks and tobacco products brought in for personal use however.

In addition, wedding gifts which are sent or brought to you are only allowed the relief if each gift is worth no more than £800.

There is no monetary limit for wedding gifts if you bring them with you as part of your personal belongings.

6.4 Can goods arrive before the wedding?

Yes, so long as they arrive no sooner than 2 months before the date of the wedding. We’ll waive this condition if their earlier arrival is due to circumstances beyond your control. You’ll have to give us security for the duty and tax. We’ll allow relief and discharge the security when you provide proof of your marriage. Please read paragraph 6.7 below.

6.5 Can goods arrive after the wedding?

Yes, so long as they arrive no later than 4 months after the date of the wedding, they can be brought in free of duty and tax. We’ll waive this condition if their delayed arrival is due to circumstances beyond your control. You must provide proof of your marriage and satisfy our officer that you are setting up your normal home in the UK.

6.6 What proof of marriage do I need?

Show us a copy of your marriage certificate or marriage license or similar proof that we can accept as officially authorised evidence.

6.7 How do I lodge or discharge a guarantee or security?

For details about lodging or discharging guarantees, please contact the guarantee team using the following details:

When you complete your import declaration you’ll need to indicate in box 47e of the C88 entry the method of payment for providing the guarantee or security using ‘MOP’ codes, available in Volume 3 of the Trade Tariff. If you do not qualify for the reliefs from duty and tax under Sections 4 to 7, please read Section 8 on paying duty and tax.

Please read also Section 9 on importing and registering your vehicle.

7. Returned belongings or vehicles previously exported from the EU

For everyone who brings belongings or a vehicle back again into the EU.

7.1 Can I bring back belongings or a vehicle free of duty and tax?

Yes, as long as for for Customs Duty purposes:

  • the goods were previously manufactured, or imported into the EU with any customs duty already paid and not refunded, before they were exported from the EU
  • they have had no alteration outside the EU other than necessary running repairs
  • they are brought back to the EU within 3 years

Yes, as long as for VAT purposes:

  • they were exported from the EU by you or on your behalf
  • any VAT or equivalent turnover tax had been paid on them in the EU and not refunded when they were taken outside the EU
  • they were not purchased free of VAT or equivalent turnover tax in the EU under any personal export schemes
  • they have had no alteration outside the EU other than necessary running repairs
  • they are brought back to the EU within 3 years*
  • note: for both customs duty and VAT purposes we’ll waive the three year time limit if you can meet the other conditions and we are satisfied the belongings or vehicle were indeed previously in the EU and are not being imported in the course of business

Please read Notice 236: Returned Goods Relief for complete information regarding this relief.

If our officer questions you, the production of any purchase invoices showing payment in the EU of duty and/or tax on your goods can be very useful in proving that you are entitled to partial or total relief.

If you do not qualify for the reliefs from duty and tax under Sections 4 to 7, please read Section 8 on paying duty and tax.

Please read also Section 9 on importing and registering your vehicle.

8. Paying Duty and tax

If you can’t fulfil the relief conditions in Sections 4 to 7, you must pay duty and tax when you import your belongings or a vehicle into the UK (but please read paragraph 9.3).

8.1 What about belongings and vehicles from countries with preferential trade agreements with the EU?

You’ll be able to claim a preferential (reduced or nil) rate of Customs Duty at import if:

  • they are being imported from a country with which the EU has concluded a preferential trade agreement and they are covered by the provisions of that agreement
  • they satisfy the relevant origin conditions
  • you produce proof of preferential origin (a valid preference certificate or where applicable, a declaration on an invoice or other commercial document) if required by us

You’ll still have to pay VAT.

You’ll find out more about importing under preference in our Notice 826: tariff preferences - imports.

8.2 What is the VAT rate?

Each member state may set its VAT rate within a specific threshold. Always refer to the Customs authority of that country to find their current VAT rate.

8.3 How do you fix values of vehicles?

New vehicles

Value for Customs Duty

This is the price paid for the vehicle (supported by the purchase invoice) plus the cost of transport and insurance to the point of entry to the EU (supported by documentary evidence, where possible).

Value for VAT

This is the:

  • price paid for the vehicle (supported by the purchase invoice)
  • cost of transport and insurance and any commission to the point of entry into the UK (all supported by documentary evidence, where possible) plus
  • duty (if payable)

Used vehicles

This is the value for duty (if payable) and VAT. If the vehicle is imported within 1 month of purchase, we usually use the price paid overseas plus transport and insurance costs. Otherwise we normally use the wholesale value in the UK. In some cases, when using wholesale value, we’ll make an allowance for left hand drive vehicles.

Note: in the case of valuations for duty and VAT based on the wholesale value, we allow for tax being included in the UK wholesale price level.

When converting the price paid from foreign currency into Sterling, we’ll use the rate of exchange in force at the time the documents are presented.

9. Importing your vehicle

9.1 Importing vehicles into the UK

There are specific conditions you need to know about for importing vehicles into the UK, even if it is just for personal use.

Please read Importing vehicles into the UK for the full details for importing vehicles.

9.2 Notification of Vehicle Arrival

When you import a motor vehicle permanently into the UK before you’ll be able to license and register your vehicle, it must be notified to the HMRC Notification of Vehicle Arrival (NOVA) system. When you make your declaration to claim relief or pay duty and import VAT, HMRC will make the NOVA notification on your behalf and write to you advising when you can apply to the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) to license and register your vehicle.

You can find details about NOVA on VAT information sheet 06/13: notification of vehicle arrivals.

Contact HMRC using the Helpline on Telephone: 0300 200 3700 for more information.

9.3 What are tax-free scheme vehicles?

If your vehicle was originally supplied in the UK under a tax-free scheme as described in VAT Notice 707: VAT Personal Export Scheme for motor vehicles to destinations outside the EU, you can only re-import it into the UK free of duty and tax if it qualifies for one of the reliefs set out in Sections 4 to 7.

If it does not qualify for any of the reliefs, the duty and tax will normally be payable on the value of the vehicle at the time you re-import it at the rates which then apply. However, if you bring it back to the UK within 6 months of the date by which it should have been exported under the original conditions, you’ll be liable to pay:

  • the VAT due at the time the vehicle was originally supplied
  • duty - if payable - based on the value of the vehicle at the time you import it

10. Glossary of Terms

In this notice, these words have the following meaning:

Term Description
Belongings (and personal belongings) The goods you keep for your personal or household use, for example caravans, bicycles, clothing, cameras, furniture, pets and riding animals

Note: alcoholic drinks, tobacco products and tools of trade are not included unless specifically mentioned in the relevant section of this notice
Business use The use of a vehicle for an activity carried out for financial gain or consideration
C 88 (SAD) The UK version of the Single Administrative Document
CSDR Community System of Duty Reliefs, catered for by EC Regulation 1186/2009
CPC Customs Procedure Code. Used on import declarations (form C88) to identify the type of procedure for which the goods are entered
Customs charges customs duties, import VAT, specific Customs Duty (previously CAP charges), Anti-Dumping Duty, Countervailing Duty, excise duties
Customs Duty An indirect tax that provides protection for EU industry. Raised on imported goods, it does not include Excise Duty or VAT
Customs Union The customs territories of the EU, Turkey, San Marino and Andorra. The unions between the EU and these countries enable most goods in free circulation to move freely between them without the need to claim import duty relief, subject to the production of any necessary preference or Community Transit documentation. For Andorra, the union only covers goods in Chapters 25-97 of the Tariff. VAT is still due on imports from Turkey, San Marino and Andorra however unless the relief explained in this notice is applicable and claimed
DfT Department for Transport
Diplomatic duties A UK, EU or non-EU citizen who was employed on official Diplomatic Duties, along with the relevant members of support staff

Working in an Embassy, Consulate or High Commission overseas in territory outside the EU

Of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO)

Of any organisation working in support of the FCO or in association with embassies, Consulates and High Commissions

NB: this is separate to those reliefs available for diplomats who serve in the UK/EC. Please read the provisions available for Diplomatic Privileges relief with the FCO
Duty Taxes we charge on imported goods under the combined nomenclature of the EU. These include Customs Duty, Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) charges and Anti-Dumping Duty
DVLA Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency
EORI An EORI number is a number, unique throughout the EU, assigned by a customs authority in a member state to economic operators (businesses) or persons. By registering for customs purposes in one member state, an Economic Operator (EO) is able to obtain an EORI number that is valid throughout the EU. The EO will then use this number in all communications with any EU customs authorities where a customs identifier is required for example customs declarations
EU The European Union:

Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, the Republic of Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and the UK

Note: Cyprus, including the British Sovereign Base Areas of Akrotiri and Dhekelia (but excluding the United Nations buffer zone and the part of Cyprus to the north of the buffer zone, where the Republic of Cyprus does not exercise effective control)
Euro (€) The EU single common currency unit
Household effects and personal property Furnishings and fittings for the home, and also personal and family items such as cameras, linen, jewellery, toys and clothing intended for meeting the household needs
Members of the family Relatives (that is, spouse, parents, children and their spouses, and brothers and sisters and their spouses)
Normal home Where you usually live. For customs purposes, that is where you spend at least 185 days in a period of 12 months, because of your work and personal connections. But if you have no work, connections, your work and personal connections are in different countries, then your normal home is where your personal connections are

However, if you are a UK citizen working outside the EU, ‘normal home’ can mean where you are working, even if your personal connections are in the UK. You must live, or have lived there, for at least 185 days in a 12 month period.

Note: your normal home is not necessarily the country in which you were born or hold citizenship. As an example, if you are a UK citizen returning to the UK with your family after working in the USA for 5 years, then your normal home is the USA
Outside the EU Any country which is not in the EU (please read EU above). The Special Territories and Customs Union countries are also counted as outside the EU for Excise Duty and VAT purposes
Private motor vehicle When visiting the UK: any road vehicle solely for private use

When bringing a vehicle permanently into the EU: any road vehicle (and any trailer) which is neither built, nor being used to carry more than 9 people including the driver, carry goods, do any job apart from carrying people
Private use The use of a road vehicle, trailer or caravan (whether or not motorised) for other than business
Relief Freedom from paying duty and tax when you meet the relevant conditions.
SAD Single Administrative Document (form C88)
Special Territories Countries or areas that are part of the customs territory of the Customs Union but not part of the fiscal (VAT) territory. Goods coming from these territories are therefore liable to VAT unless the relief explained in this notice is applicable and claimed.

These territories are:

the Åland Islands, the Canary Islands, the Channel Islands, Guadeloupe, French Guiana, Martinique, Mayotte, Réunion and Saint-Martin (French Republic), Mount Athos
Student A natural person attending a school, college or university in the EU for full-time study
Trade Tariff The Trade Tariff provides useful information about customs import and export requirements. Trade Tariff users should be aware that in any case where information in the UK Trade Tariff is at variance with that contained in the appropriate Community legislation published in the Official Journal of the European Communities, the latter will represent the correct legal position.

Whilst every effort is made to ensure the accuracy of the Tariff on GOV.UK, the onus remains with the user to consult the Official Journal as necessary and to ensure that the correct duties are paid at importation.

Volume 1 - This collection brings together detailed information for importers and exporters covering prohibitions and restrictions, reliefs, duties, suspensions, and VAT. It also covers other applicable charges and rules you’ll need to apply when importing or exporting from the UK.

Classification of goods - Use this tool to search for import and export commodity codes and for tax, duty and licences that apply to your goods – please read Tariff sections on GOV.UK.

Volume 3 - This collection brings together directions for completing the Single Administrative Document (form C88) and related customs documentation. It includes import, export and community transit documentary procedures, information about customs warehousing, trader data input, details of customs procedure codes and certain other special procedures for facilitating trade.

Elements of the Tariff are now available
Third country Any country that is outside the Customs Territory of the EU
ToR Transfer of Residence
UK The United Kingdom: England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland, (not the Channel Islands)
VAT Value Added Tax

Your rights and obligations

Your Charter explains what you can expect from us and what we can expect from you.

Do you have any comments or suggestions?

If you have any comments or suggestions to make about this notice, please write to:

HM Revenue and Customs
Customs Directorate
10th Floor Central
Alexander House
21 Victoria Avenue
Southend on Sea
Essex
SS99 1AA

Please note this address is not for general enquiries, please read paragraph 1.6.

Putting things right

If you are unhappy with HMRC’s service, please contact the person or office you have been dealing with. They’ll try to put things right. If you are still unhappy, they’ll tell you how to complain.

How we use your information

HMRC is a Data Controller under the Data Protection Act 1998. We hold information for the purposes specified in our notification to the Information Commissioner, including the assessment and collection of tax and duties, the payment of benefits and the prevention and detection of crime, and may use this information for any of them.

We may get information about you from others, or we may give information to them. If we do, it will only be as the law permits to:

  • check the accuracy of information
  • prevent or detect crime
  • protect public funds

HMRC may check information we receive about you with what is already in our records. This can include information provided by you, as well as by others, such as other government departments or agencies and overseas tax and customs authorities. We’ll not give information to anyone outside HMRC unless the law permits us to do so.