Guide to Moving Home, Transfer of Residence to the UK

In most cases, people shipping their furniture, clothes and other personal effects into the UK are doing so for the first and only time. If you’re one of them, there’s no need to worry. RJJ Freight is here to help! Here’s our guide to what’s involved...

What is your residential status?

The first thing to remember is that if you’re resident in the UK and simply want to import one or more items you brought outside the EU, those items will be treated as a commercial import and usually liable to Import Duty & VAT. We suggest you need to read a different guide - Importing goods into the UK.

The second thing is that the information below applies only if you’re moving house from somewhere outside the EU, of course this does depend on final BREXIT deal as regulations may change. With this in mind, if you’re moving from another EU country to the UK, everything is much simpler – more like moving house in the UK. Just remember BREXIT may change this.

What can you bring? And what will it cost?

There’s no such thing as a duty-free allowance when you’re moving the contents of your home into the UK by non-accompanied Freight. A duty-free allowance is only applicable when you personally hand carry goods through customs control, like when you come back from holiday or business trip and walk through border control.

The good news, UK Customs do offer Import Tax & VAT relief on some goods Imported when transferring residence, this relief is generally referred to as ToR (Transfer of residence relief) Information from UK Customs can be found on following web links:

The paperwork you’ll need

The paperwork you’ll need

Before your personal effects arrive in the UK, you’ll need to have prepared the documentation, so we suggest making contact with us before you are making arrangements to send your goods to the UK, we can then help you to get all the documents ready for when your cargo arrives. 

Give us a call or send us an email, we will be pleased to assist you. [email protected] 

Important - You as an individual have to complete an application process with HMRC on behalf of yourself and any family moving with you. The Application form is available online here;

Application form

We have further information & advice papers available to assist you with the application, if you would like further assistance do make contact with us.

Applications for ToR should be done prior to moving and sending your consignment to the UK so that HMRC can grant you an approval reference which can then be used by a Customs Clearance broker like ourselves to clear your goods upon arrival at the UK Port. Although having approval prior to sending your consignment is not essential if your goods arrive in the UK prior to you having been granted approval to ToR by HMRC then you have limited options available to you to obtain Customs release at Port pending ToR approval, most likely option to obtain release will be to pay a security deposit to HMRC of potential Import Duty & Vat with a refund application option should you retrospectively be granted ToR. So you really should discuss applications and options with us as it can be costly if not handled correctly.

To summarise the relief, if you’ve lived outside the UK / EU for at least 12 months and you’ve owned and used the things you’re importing for at least 6 months, you can bring most of them into the UK free of duties and taxes. The exceptions are generally considered to be:

Wines and spirits
Tobacco products (cigarettes, cigars, tobacco and so on)
Anything on the prohibited or restricted goods list (see below).

Items that are less than 6 months old and anything you are importing for commercial, rather than domestic purposes will attract both Import Duty and VAT. Plus of course some items might attract Excise Duty or other types of Import levy.

If your circumstances prevent you from qualification to ToR (Transfer of residence relief), please contact us and we can discuss your circumstances and establish if you are able to qualify for some of the many other Import relief schemes offered by HMRC.

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.

If you have any restricted items or items you are not sure about you must seek further advice before packing them. Otherwise ‘If in Doubt leave it out!’  Don’t have it packed in your consignment, it will only cause problems for you! Any item prohibited or restricted needs to be declared as part of your declaration.

Of course some items maybe allowed as part of a personal allowance but ONLY if you were to hand carry and declare through Border control upon your arrival through an Airport or Port.

Travelling to the UK

Controls at Ports

Movements of goods through ports and airports are governed mainly by;

UK Border Force, H M Revenue & customs, Local Port Health Authority, Trading Standards.

Port health can take an interest in shipments that contain foodstuffs and or animal products, but are also there to make sure that neither pests nor vermin stowaways enter the UK along with your personal effects.

If you have foodstuffs or animal products you want to import, you should always take advice and make sure there are no restrictions, if you are not sure then let us know so we can investigate and let you know.

Customs Clearance at Ports, Of course you’ll need us to arrange Customs clearance and release from both Customs and sometimes the local Port Health authority before your personal effects can be released at the port. The authorities may ask for extra information or even decide to examine the goods.

There’s a limited period where you will have free storage at the port, after an often very short period Sea Freight could be typically 4-7 days after arrival, airfreight only 24 hours, so your consignment will start incurring Storage fees. The free storage period may vary slightly depending on which shipping line/airline is used and which port, airport or warehouse your goods are stored in.

Getting your effects from the port to your new home

We can then help you and have your cargo delivered. There are many things to consider before you can book delivery. What the access is like to your house or self-store/garage? Can you unload the cargo, can you carry it, is it very big, how far will you have to carry it?  Do you need to have assistance to unload it? We can discuss these points with you and if required point you in the right direction or maybe even offer a solution and arrange additional services through our partners.