Tax-Free Import Rules for Moving Personal Effects to the EU

Moving from UK to EU? Need assistance with Customs documentation and tax relief?


Moving to the European Union (EU) from a third country (like UK after Brexit) brings with it numerous logistical challenges, not least of which is transferring personal belongings across borders. Understanding the conditions under which relief from import duties can be obtained is crucial for a smooth transition. Council Regulation 1186/2009, specifically Chapter I, outlines the provisions for individuals transferring their normal place of residence to the EU, granting them the possibility to import personal property free of import duties under certain conditions.

Eligibility for Duty-Free Importation

1. Ownership and Usage: Personal property eligible for duty-free import must have been owned and used by the person at their former place of residence for at least six months prior to relocation. This ensures that the relief is granted for genuine personal effects rather than new acquisitions meant for import.

2. Intended Use: The imported personal property must be intended for the same use in the new residence within the EU. This continuity ensures that the relief is applied to goods that are part of the person’s normal life.

Conditions and Limitations

1. Residency Requirement: The relief is available only to individuals whose normal place of residence was outside the EU for a continuous period of at least 12 months before moving. Exceptions may be made if the intent to reside outside the EU for the stipulated period is clear.

2. Exclusions: Certain items are excluded from relief, including alcoholic products, tobacco products, commercial transport vehicles, and professional equipment, except portable instruments for the arts.

3. Timing for Import: The importation of personal property must generally occur within 12 months from the date the individual establishes their new normal place of residence in the EU. The goods may be imported in several consignments within this period.

4. Restrictions on Disposal: For 12 months following their duty-free admission, the imported goods cannot be lent, hired out, or transferred without notifying the competent authorities. Breaching this condition requires the payment of relevant import duties.


Individual Case Assessment by National Customs

It's important to note that the granting of relief from import duties is decided on a case-by-case basis, strictly by the national customs authorities of the Member State to which an individual is moving. This personalized assessment ensures that the provisions of the regulation are applied correctly, taking into account the specific circumstances and documentation of each case. As such, individuals seeking to benefit from this relief should prepare to provide comprehensive proof of eligibility, including documentation of their previous residence, ownership, and use of the goods, and any other requirements stipulated by the national customs.


The EU provides a well-defined framework for individuals moving from third countries, allowing them to bring their personal effects without incurring import duties, provided certain conditions are met. This relief is designed to ease the financial and logistical burden of relocation, ensuring that personal belongings integral to one’s life can accompany them into their new home in the EU. Understanding and complying with these regulations is key to a successful transition, minimizing potential stress and financial impact associated with moving.


Bright Customs is here to assist with all necessary import/export documentation for a hassle-free move to the EU. With the support of our network, we can provide the full set of documents in the following countries:

  • Austria
  • France
  • Belgium
  • Netherlands
  • Germany
  • Switzerland
  • Italy
  • Sweden
  • Denmark
  • Finland
  • Poland
  • Czech Republic
  • Slovakia
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