UK Relocation: New UK Cutoms Process

By Angela Tegg, Client Services Manager

From 31 March 2017, a new customs requirement means that international assignees must apply for a Transfer of Residence (ToR) if they plan to import household goods, vehicles, or family pets to the UK from outside of the European Union (EU).

The introduction of the mandatory ToR form aims to meet European Commission regulations and to improve the import process. UK HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) is experiencing delays in processing the applications, which may impact those relocating to the UK from outside of the EU. Currently, exact requirements would appear to depend on the individual customs officer handling each shipment, but to avoid further delays, we recommend that the ToR form be submitted at the earliest opportunity.

The New UK Process Outlined

Once an online ToR application has been submitted and approved, international assignees will receive a unique reference number that will need to be given to the shipping company. This will then allow consignments to be released from customs once they’ve arrived in the UK.

What if Goods are Shipped Before the ToR is Submitted?

Currently, HMRC is advising customers that they can ship their goods prior to obtaining the ToR, although the application will need to be completed before clearance commences. If household goods arrive in the UK before the ToR is completed, they will be moved to a bonded warehouse until the application is received and customs clearance can begin.

However, by submitting the ToR form in advance, organisations will ensure they do not have to pay the extra cost of storing goods in a bonded warehouse. It also benefits the assignee, as it minimises the handling of their belongings (moving goods into and out of a warehouse), thereby reducing the risk of costly damages.

Impact on Relocation

We recommend working closely with your relocation services provider and approved freight forwarder who will advise of the very latest requirements during this period of implementation. Submitting the ToR form to HMRC in advance of an international assignee’s household goods arriving also remains key.

UK customs typically take approximately 10 to 14 days to approve ToR forms. However, there is currently a backlog of around 3,000 applications, with an estimated delay of 28 days. This means that shipment deliveries may be held up, and assignees should be made aware of this before they begin the relocation process.

Delays to household goods arriving in the UK may make it necessary to extend temporary accommodation arrangements for assignees. Alternatively, furniture rental options may be considered as an interim arrangement.

Going Forward

We will continue to monitor the impact that this new application process has on household goods shipments to the UK and keep you up to date with any new developments. Please contact your Beazley Moving representative if you have any questions, or email us at