Customs clearance for transfers of residence to the UK and EU
Depending on the final delivery destination of goods there are different processes to follow when claiming reliefs.
Transfer of Residence relief
Transfer of Residence (ToR) relief is part of a wider range of customs procedures known as the Community System of Duty Reliefs (CSDR) that provide relief from customs duty, and in some cases import VAT.
ToR relief is available where a natural person transfers their country of residence, bringing their household effects and personal property with them. A natural person is a living individual, not a trust, corporation, company, association, group or organisation. Non-individuals such as these are liable to all duties and import charges and need to make an import declaration regardless of whether the final delivery is in the UK or elsewhere in the European Union (EU).
Implementation of Article 123 of EC Regulation 1186/2009 means approval to use the CSDR can only be granted by the customs authority of the member state where those goods will be used or consumed.
UK Customs Authorities (HM Revenue and Customs and Border Force) can no longer provide approval for ToR relief for natural persons relocating their normal place of residence to another member state of the EU. They can only approve ToR relief where the final destination of the goods will be a known UK address.
There’s more guidance on entitlement to ToR relief in Customs Information Paper 56 (2014).
No reliefs being claimed
If no reliefs are being claimed the import declaration should be made to ‘free circulation’ and charges should be applied for all duties liable regardless of whether delivery is to the United Kingdom or elsewhere within the EU.
Final destination is the UK
Individuals (natural persons) importing their household effects and personal property into the UK can claim relief from customs duties but only if the property is intended for use in the UK.
Where the UK is the final destination customs will check that:
- the final UK delivery location is known
- the application of the reliefs is correct
- all the goods are eligible for relief
- the intended use of the goods makes them eligible for relief
Reliefs are available for goods that:
- belong to overseas students and are used for their studies in the UK
- are part of a spouse’s trousseaux when they come to live in the UK
- are wedding gifts up to a certain value
There’s more guidance on moving your personal belongings to the UK here.
Final destination outside the UK
Goods arriving in the UK for another member state where the customs relief will be claimed can’t claim that relief in the UK.
You must apply before import for any customs reliefs appropriate to your circumstances from the customs authority of the EU country of final destination.
Alternatively, after shipping to the UK you can apply for relief from the host customs authority while the goods are stored pending a decision on the relief, or, those goods may be moved in transit to the final destination, on condition that all duties will be liable if relief is refused.