Guidance

Transfer of residence to UK

Find out how to import your personal belongings, pets and private motor vehicles when moving or returning to UK.

Find out what to do if you’re moving from Great Britain to Northern Ireland.

Who can claim relief

You can get relief from customs charges due on personal belongings and other goods, when transferring your place of residence to:

  • Great Britain
  • Northern Ireland from outside the EU

If you’re moving from the EU to Northern Ireland, you’ll not need to apply for ToR relief due to freedom of movement.

You can find more information on:

Transfer of residence relief

Transfer of residence (ToR) relief is available when you:

  • transfer your normal place of residence - it allows you to import your goods, including animals and means of transport, with relief from import duties and charges
  • are a student coming for full-time study
  • are moving to get married or enter into a civil partnership
  • are moving following your marriage or having entered into a civil partnership

The relief exists for those persons who wish to make the UK their normal place of residence. This means the UK will be your main principal home. The relief is only available to ‘living persons’ and their personal property. It is not available to trusts, companies, corporations, associations, groups or organisations.

There is no relief for goods imported from secondary and holiday homes.

Transferring your normal place of residence

Eligible goods

Relief is available on any personal property intended for your use or for meeting your household needs. This includes:

  • household effects, personal effects, household linen, furnishings and any equipment intended for your personal use or for use within your household
  • cycles, motor cycles, private motor vehicles (and their trailers), camping caravans, pleasure craft and private aircraft
  • household provisions necessary for normal family requirements, household pets and saddle animals
  • portable instruments of the applied or liberal arts required by you for your trade or profession

The relief does not apply to:

  • alcoholic beverages
  • tobacco and tobacco products
  • commercial means of transport
  • non-portable instruments required by you for your trade or profession

This relief does not remove the need for licences for restricted goods, such as firearms or endangered species.

Conditions for relief

To claim relief, you must satisfy all of the following criteria:

  • you’ve been resident outside the UK for at least 12 consecutive months, prior to the date of moving to Great Britain or Northern Ireland
  • you’re importing the goods within 12 months of coming to live in the UK
  • you intend to use the goods in the UK for the same purpose they were used for prior to moving

The goods can be imported in multiple consignments.

Any goods for which relief is granted cannot be lent, used as security, hired out or transferred to another person within 12 months of the date you moved.

How long you need to have owned the goods

You must have had the goods in your possession for at least 6 months prior the date of importation. However, this restriction does not apply to items imported under marriage or civil partnership relief, or the relief for students.

Exceptional circumstances

Where you’re becoming resident in the UK due to exceptional political circumstances (for example, political asylum), you may be able to:

  • have had possession and use of the goods for less than 6 months prior to moving
  • use the goods for a different purpose than they were used for prior to moving
  • use the relief for commercial vehicles and non-portable instruments of your trade or profession
  • lend, hire out or transfer the goods prior to 12 months after moving

If circumstances beyond your control mean you cannot comply with the relief requirements, HMRC will also consider waiving the following conditions:

  • being resident for at least 12 months outside the UK prior to moving – where you can show your intention to stay outside the UK for this period or longer
  • having and using the good for at least 6 months – where you can show a special case exists
  • having no more than 12 months to bring all items into the UK – where exceptional circumstances have prevented you from bringing the items into the UK (a lack of funds or space in your new home is not considered an exceptional circumstance)

If you think exceptional circumstances apply, you should include evidence of why you think they apply within your TOR1 form.

Prior approval for importing goods

You (or your representative) must obtain approval from HMRC prior to importing the goods.

You should detail the goods to be imported in your TOR1 form application and provide evidence to support your claim.

Students moving to the UK for full-time study

Eligible goods

For goods belonging to pupils or students coming to the UK for full-time study of at least 12 months, relief is available on the following:

  • clothing, including underwear
  • objects and instruments normally used by students for their studies - including personal computers, calculators and typewriters
  • household effects, including personal effects, household linen, furnishings and equipment

Alcohol, tobacco and tobacco products are excluded from relief.

If you’re a student coming to the UK for a period of full-time study, you do not need to complete the TOR1 form. You should tell your agent to declare the goods to Customs Procedure Code (CPC) 40 00 C06. You’ll need to submit evidence of your period of study with your entry. The goods must be owned by the individual and be intended for their personal use.

Who can claim relief

Any person moving to the UK to enroll at a school, academy, college or university to study on a full-time basis, or a person acting on their behalf.

You’ll need to provide evidence of your period of study with your customs declaration.

Goods imported on the occasion of a marriage or civil partnership

Eligible goods

Relief is available on trousseaux and household effects. Relief can also be claimed in respect of presents given on the occasion of a wedding or civil partnership, provided the person giving the present has their normal place of residence outside the UK.

Alcoholic goods, tobacco and tobacco products are excluded from relief.

Who can claim relief

People moving to or relocating back to the UK because of their marriage or civil partnership, or persons acting on their behalf.

Conditions of relief

To claim relief, you must satisfy all of the following criteria:

  • your normal place of residence must have been outside the UK for at least 12 consecutive months prior to the date of importation
  • you must be able to provide evidence of your marriage or civil partnership
  • the value of each gift cannot exceed £900
  • you must provide a guarantee for goods imported for up to 2 months prior to the date of the marriage or civil partnership ceremony

If you’re coming to the UK to get married, or you’re coming after you marry, you do not need to complete the TOR1 form. You should declare the goods to one of the following CPCs:

  • 40 00 C02
  • 40 00 C03
  • 40 00 C60
  • 40 00 C61

In addition, you can bring in the wedding outfits of the bride and groom free of duty and tax. We’ll normally waive the first condition if you cannot meet it due to circumstances beyond your control.

It does not matter:

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

You can import goods up to 4 months after the date of the marriage or entering into a civil partnership.

Any goods for which relief is granted cannot be lent, used as security, hired out or transferred to another person within 12 months of the date of importation.

Exceptional circumstances

Provided that you can prove that your intention was to be resident outside the UK for at least 12 months, that condition can be waived.

If you consider that exceptional circumstances do apply, you should detail the goods to be imported in your TOR1 form application and provide evidence to support your claim.

Pets and other animals

Pets and animals brought in for non-commercial purposes are part of personal property and are therefore qualify for relief under transfer of residence relief.

Find information on bringing your pet dog, cat or ferret to the UK, or contact the Pet Travel Scheme helpline.

Find information on importing live animals or animal products from non-EU countries to Great Britain, or contact the Animal and Plant Health Agency imports team on Telephone: 03000 200 301

Any animal imported for commercial purposes, do not qualify for relief. This includes animals for:

  • retail sales
  • breeding
  • competitions

Importing vehicles

There are specific conditions you need to know for importing vehicles, even if it’s for personal use.

Notification of Vehicle Arrival

When you make your declaration to claim relief or pay duty and import VAT for a vehicle you import permanently into the UK, HMRC will make the NOVA notification on your behalf and write to tell you when you can apply to the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency to license and register your vehicle.

You can find out more information by phoning: 0300 200 3700.

Tax-free scheme vehicles

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

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 have 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

How to go through customs

What to do when you arrive at customs

In most cases, you’ll be able to go through the green ‘nothing to declare’ channel.

You must go to the red point or into the red channel to declare the following:

  • prohibited or restricted goods
  • goods for sale
  • belongings or vehicles which need to be declared in order to be considered for relief from duty and tax

If you’re not sure what to do, declare your goods through the red point or red channel.

How to declare goods if they’re travelling with you

Tell the officer what goods you’ve brought with you. It may help if you’ve 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 you have prior approval, evidence of this should be provided.

How to declare your goods if they’re shipped over

Make sure you apply for a unique reference number by completing a TOR1 form. This should be used on your shipping documentation.

If you’re are not able to quote a valid unique reference number on your shipping documents, you may be billed for import duties and administration charges on your belongings.

If you believe you’re eligible for transfer of residence relief, you can still apply using a TOR1 form. If the relief is granted you can then put a claim to have the import duties repaid using form C285.

If you make a late claim for marriage or student relief, you can apply for the relief using C285 and sending in evidence of your study or marriage.

If you’re bringing your private motor vehicle back to the UK after travelling with it overseas, complete form C179B.

If you’re paying duty or tax on your private motor vehicle or yacht and it does not qualify for any of the reliefs dealt within this notice, complete form C384 for motor vehicles and C384 (vessels) for yachts.

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

Items on which you pay duty and tax

You’ll have to pay duty and tax on anything which does not meet all the conditions for relief. This can be declared in the normal manner for imports, by inclusion on the customs declaration.

If there’s doubt over your eligibility for the relief, you can import your items leaving a security for the duty and tax (normally a cash deposit or banker’s guarantee) until you prove all the relief conditions are met.

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

How much to pay and when

The 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’ve paid duty and tax.

If you cannot pay, we’ll keep your goods and give you a receipt for them. You’ll get them back when you pay the duty and tax due, within the time limits shown on the back of the receipt. If you want us to send your goods to you, you must pay the postage.

How to pay

You can pay by:

  • cash deposit in UK Sterling
  • corporate credit card
  • commercial or personnel debit card
  • bank transfer (Bacs, CHAPS)
  • online or telephone banking (faster payments)
  • cheque

You cannot pay customs charges if your cheques are not guaranteed.

If payments are made by cheque or banker’s draft, they must be drawn on a bank which is approved by us. Most UK banks have our approval.

Published 18 December 2020