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I am going to transfer my normal place of residency from the EU to the UK. To transfer my personal belonging, the plan is to rent a van and move them over myself. I already know that I can (and should) apply for ‘transfer of residence’ (ToR) relief on tax and duty for personal belongings.

However, my plan proceeds as follows: I bring with me all the belongings that I believe might fit into the new apartment, and if something does not fit, I take it back to the EU with the same van two to three days later.

Question:

Do I need to apply again for a relief on tax/duty for my way back to the EU? Or can I somehow use the fact that I just recently crossed the border in the other direction with the same things. How would I prove this?

I admit that I was not able to find equally accessible information on tax relief for the transfert to the EU. Any links to generally understandable websites are highly appreciated.

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Similar procedures exist in the EU but the details depend on the country in question. It's not really relevant to this scenario, though. You are not transferring your residence to the EU. In fact, you won't be residing in the EU at all. Therefore you won't qualify for a transfer of residence tax relief and there is no point researching those.

To the extent that tax or duty really is due then there are no reason to hope for any relief. Would you expect some item you have bought in England and now wish to sell in the EU to be exempted from EU tax and duties? What about a British resident bringing some goods to their secondary home in France? Since you are not moving to the EU, that's the situation you are in.

What could save you is something else: All the goods in question have presumably already been properly imported and taxed in the EU. If you have already paid VAT on something (and haven't received a refund), you do not need to pay it again every time you cross a border. It's not so important to prove you brought them to England a few days ago. You could even bring them back months from now. What you do need to prove is that all applicable tax and duties have been paid and the best way to do that is to produce the original invoice.

Two things could still create problems:

  • Goods for which you have no invoice, especially goods that are not easily identifiable (e.g. jewelry). By contrast, consumer electronics have serial numbers and other features that make it easier to prove you really did buy them in the EU (listing them when applying for tax relief in the UK should also help).
  • Cars (and boats and airplane I think), as other more complex rules apply, although I am not sure how that would work in this scenario.

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