Customs clearance for transfers of residence to the UK and EU

Find out your entitlement to Transfer of Residence relief and other related reliefs, depending on the final delivery destination of your goods.

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). These 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.

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) cannot give approval for ToR relief for natural persons relocating their normal place of residence to another EU member state. They can only approve ToR relief where the final destination of the goods will be a known UK address.

How to apply for Transfer of Residence relief

You have to apply for the ToR relief yourself. It’s best to do this before your goods are sent to the UK.

Complete form ToR01 Application for Transfer of Residence and send it to HM Revenue and Customs. If your application’s successful you’ll be sent a unique code to give to your shipper so they can make the customs declaration into the UK on your behalf.

Notice 5: Transfer of Residence - moving to or returning to the UK from outside the EU fully explains the conditions for claiming ToR.

If you’re not claiming a relief

The import declaration should be made to ‘free circulation’ if you’re not claiming a relief. Charges should be applied for all duties liable regardless of whether delivery is to the United Kingdom or elsewhere within the EU.

If your 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.

If your final destination is outside the UK

Goods arriving in the UK for another member state where the customs relief will be claimed cannot 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.

Published 27 October 2015