Moving Personal Belongings Across Customs Borders
By now, most people understand that moving goods between Great Britain and the European Union or vice versa isn't as straight forward as it used to be prior to Brexit. However, the focus has always been on the effects of business shippers, with plenty of support and grants from the government to ease the transition. Unfortunately, the effects of Brexit also affect private individuals who wish to move personal belongings through customs borders but support and learning has been limited for this type of shipper.
The bad news is, all personal possessions transiting the border must be declared to customs, who in turn will assess the goods for import duty and VAT. Even worse is the fact that customs will base their assessments on the original purchase price of the presented goods. When you consider that the average VAT rate in Europe is 21%, then this is already a sizable levy alone, even before duty is considered!
Thankfully, there are government reliefs available which can completely wipe out duty and vat liabilities. Here at Parcelbroker, we recommend you explore the reliefs available to you before appointing a courier. Often you'll need to complete an application to receive an authorisation number from the government, this then has to be presented to the courier and customs broker before your goods are collected.
The next paragraph will focus on the HMRC relief on personal items being imported to the UK from the EU or rest of world. We can't cover off all the other countries in this article but you should be able to easily find resources through local government pages. The usual terminology to look for is "TOR" (Transfer of Residence).
The UK's transfer of residence scheme allows you to bring household effects and personal belongings back to the United Kingdom free of duties and taxes, but there are certain criteria you must meet to qualify. Firstly (unless you're a student or moving due to marriage), you need to have been resident out of the country for at least 12 months and you must have owned and used the goods you intend to import for at least 6 months. On some goods, you'll need to hang on to them from 12 months from the date they're imported and won't be able to lend or sell anything on. All of these measures contribute to avoiding commercial users masquerading as personal shippers and profiteering from the relief.
There are several exclusions to consider too, with the main being that second home owners and holiday homes owners won't qualify for relief when moving possessions from them. More information on how to qualify can be found here.
If you're only moving your items to the UK temporarily and intend to re-export them within 2 years, then you may want to consider a different kind of relief (inward relief or temporary admission). Once again, you need to ensure you've got all of your duty relief authorised and in place prior to arranging your transport.
In all cases, you must ensure that your customs documents contain the authorisation of relief codes so that when the courier presents your goods to customs, they can clearly see your goods need to be treated differently. ParcelBroker's customs creation page will provide you with the ability to enter your TOR reference number so you can be sure it will be presented to customs.
If you need to apply for a TOR from HMRC, you can get started here.