UK Customs Procedure Guide

If you’re shipping or moving to the UK, be sure to follow this comprehensive UK customs procedure guide that will help save you time & money when your shipment arrives in the UK.


The information below is intended to act as a guide only. The exact process for ToR applications and Customs clearance processes are subject to change and interpretation.

What Is ToR?

As everyone knows, we are now in an era of heightened security and stringent immigration rules.

UK customs have adopted a pre-approval system to ship your items to the UK duty and tax free called Transfer of Residence or ToR.

Once you get your pre approval (ToR number) we can then ship your items. When your shipment arrives in the UK we enter the ToR number with Customs and we should get a speedy customs clearance as you are pre-approved.

If you are moving to the UK and would like to ship your things duty and tax free, then please make a note of these procedures.

The old C3 Customs form is no longer acceptable.

Please read this complete guide before you complete the ToR’s form.

Please note you now have to submit the ToR’s form online to customs and then wait to hear back from them via email with any further questions and a ToR approval reference number, before we are able to ship and customs clear your items duty and tax free.

The ToR form is available online and has to be filled out in advance of your move.

In order to obtain duty and tax free entry of your used household items:

You must be shipping your own belongings within 12 months of your personal arrival to the UK.

You must have lived outside of the UK for the past 12 months.

You must declare that all your items that you are going to ship have been used for more than 6 months and that you are not going to sell them within the next 12 months.

If you do not meet that criteria for example, all your items are less than 6 months old, you have not moved to the UK within the last 12 months or you are sending things to someone else, furnishing a secondary or holiday home, shipping items from long term storage e.g. more than 12 months, sending items to another member of the family or items left to you in a will, then you will need to provide a packing list with used values and a letter explaining the circumstances why you are shipping these items as well as completing the ToR form. UK Customs will then probably charge duties and taxes if you do not qualify for duty free entry.

It is recommended that the application process is started as early as possible to allow for UK Customs to process the application and issue an authorization code prior to us shipping. Depending on the time of year it could take anywhere from a week to a month on average to hear back from HM Customs.


For more information from UK Customs web site click here


We are going to try and help you fill out the form correctly. Bear in mind depending how you answer the questions will determine what the next question might be so this is just a sample based on an average person moving from the USA or Canada.

ToR Form Walkthrough


Applicants Details:

Full name

New UK Address

(Lots of you will still be looking for a place to live so you will not have an address, however customs want an address for you so it is quite ok to put down a temporary address or the company you are going to work for, or a relative’s address in the UK.

Do you have a phone number?

Answer yes or no

Do you have an email address?

Make sure your email address is correct as this is how customs will reply to you with the ToR ref number or if they have any questions.

Do you have a National Insurance Number?

This is a little like a SS number in the USA. If you are a British national returning you probably have a NI number to enter but others select No

Date of Birth

Just the person completing the form

From what date have you lived, or what date do you expect to live in the UK?

Enter date you have, or are arriving in the UK

What are you planning to do in the UK?

If you click Work then you will need to confirm if the address is in the UK and then fill in the name of the company you will be working for and the address.

If you click Study you will need to enter the name of the educational institution and the address.

If you click on other please explain the circumstances.

Answer if you are coming to the UK alone or with family or a partner.

If you answer yes then add their names and dates of birth.

If you answer No then explain why you are leaving them behind and also how many trips per year you are planning to go back to visit them.

Where did you reside before?

Enter USA or Canada for example followed by the address you live or lived.

You then have to type the date you stopped living at that address.

This can be a date in the future if for example you are not moving to the UK for another few weeks or months. Presumably in most cases the date entered here will be a few days before the date you entered that you were expecting to live in the UK.

Did you own your home or rent a home?

Answer this and don’t forget to enclose a purchase agreement or rental agreement.

If there are other circumstances like I was living with my Mom then please explain that on the form.

It might be wise to complete a rental agreement if you don’t have one. They are available at Staples or other office supply stores.

Did you already own a home in the UK?

Most will probably answer no but if you are a Brit returning and you still own a home in the UK then click yes and type in the address and the date you left the UK. Don’t forget you need to have been outside of the UK for at least 12 months to obtain duty free entry of your shipment.

Have you ever lived in the UK or another EU country?

Most Brits returning will answer this as yes and enter the date they departed and why.

Others will probably answer as no.

One presumes they are looking to check that you have indeed been out side of the UK or EU for the last 12 months in order to get duty free entry. I think they might drop the EU part soon after Brexit.

Are you importing a means of transport?

This is a British way of saying are you importing a car, motorbike or anything with an engine that you wish to register and title in the UK.

Are you importing any pets?

If you are, then answer yes and you can use the same TOR number for you pet.

Have you applied for tax relief for the same goods elsewhere?

Most people will answer this one as No

Date of Entry

Dates you expect the goods to arrive:

As we are asking you to complete this form in advance you will probably be checking the goods have not arrived in the UK. In which case you will need to put an estimated guess as to when they will arrive. Bear in mind it will take at least a week to get your ToRs number back and then at least 4-6 weeks for us to ship it to the UK. It won’t matter if the date is a few weeks different when it gets there.

Click that you confirm the information is correct.

Add your full name.

Current place of residence

Florida, New York, Toronto, etc.

Number of enclosures are all the other pieces that you are going to scan like your passport, packing list, proof of residency, letters explain anything.

Add the date you completed this form and press submit.

Additional Documents

The following documents will probably need to be scanned and emailed with your application form.

• A copy of your Passport and others moving with you.

• Visa paperwork if applicable.

• National Insurance number if applicable/available

• Packing list / survey list of the goods being imported. This list can just be a selection of items you are thinking of shipping, so you could say, clothes, books, kitchenware, bedding, pictures, china, glass, toolbox, shoes, computer and screen, TV etc…..

• Proof of ownership for vehicles – registration documents older than 6 months.

• Proof that you have lived out of the UK for last 12 months – Utility Bill/Bank statement with address on.

• Employment contract if applicable and or employer’s statement / Work permit if applicable.

• Tenancy or purchase agreement for home in the UK if applicable. If living with family state this.

We suggest you include as much information as possible to get your ToR number.

Your ToR Number

Your ToR number will be emailed back to you. UK Customs might also email you some further questions or ask for further explanations if necessary. In which case please answer that email and make sure your name and any reference number they give you is on the reply email.

Please let us know by email the ToR number when you receive it, together with any correspondence you have had with UK customs and your ToR application form.

Final Notes

We suggest you apply for this ToR number 1-2 months in advance of your collection date.

That way you should have the ToR ref number back by the time we have collected your things and have it ready for shipping. If you do not have time to do this in advance then we can collect your U Crates and Pallets and hold in our warehouse pending you giving us the ToR number. We will have to charge a storage fee of $25 per pallet / U Crate per week until you receive the ToR number.

If we or you are loading a 20 or 40 foot shipping container then you need to have the ToR number back before loading or at least applied for it. Any shipment that arrives in the UK without a ToR number or valued packing list if TOR duty free entry criteria is not met, will face expensive customs bonded storage and port charges as well as possible duties and taxes.

This is why we are asking everyone to get this done in advance.

Beware of anyone that tells you this can be done once you or the shipment arrive in the UK. This might be technically correct but it could cost you a lot of money in a bonded customs warehouse which is why we ask you to get this done in advance.

If you need further advice or have any questions please email us and we will forward to our UK office to check with UK Customs.

For any further questions please feel free to email the appropriate contact below:



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