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Transfer of residence UK: How to move possessions back from abroad

Moving back to the UK from abroad can seem daunting. As well as shipping and handling of your possessions, applying for a transfer of residence UK (TOR1) can be a long process if your have a lot of items to move. 

It is important to note that you must have owned and used your items for over 6 months before they are able to be put on a transfer of residence form for moving to the UK. If you have not owned your possessions for over 6 months, you will need to declare them as imports and pay Duty and VAT on them.

(Find out how to calculate import Duty and VAT in the UK here)

You must have also lived outside of the UK for 12 or more consecutive months in order to qualify for transfer of residence relief. 

What do I need to apply for a transfer of residence UK?

Before you complete your transfer of residence application, you will need the following:
  • Your contact details (name, addresses, email, phone number). 

  • A list of all the items that you are moving back to the UK from abroad.

    • Be specific on appliances or technology. For example, “Fridge/freezer” instead of “Kitchen appliances”.
    • You do not need to list individual DVDs, clothing items, or books.
    • This list does not need a specific format, but must be easy to read.
  • Your proof of address, both inside and outside the UK, dated within 3 months.
    • If there is no proof of address in the UK, then you will need a statement from the person you are staying with and their proof of address.
  • Your passport photo page, or NATO orders if you are in the military. 
  • Veterinary certificates for any animals you are moving back to the UK. 
  • Vehicle details when importing vehicles into the UK.
  • A letter of authorisation confirming the customs broker you are authorising to act as your agent. 

What is the customs process for moving back to the UK?

Once HMRC have processed your transfer of residence UK application, they will issue a TOR URN (unique reference number) for your customs broker to process the customs clearance against. 


Your customs broker will then declare the goods to HMRC on a C88 form, using CPC 4000C01 to claim relief from Duty and Vat on the goods. 

If a vehicle is included on the C88, then all documentation relating to the transfer of residence UK will need to be forwarded to the DVLA, not only the vehicle details. 

When is the best time to apply for transfer of residence relief when moving back to the UK?

Transfer of residence UK applications can take anywhere from 24 hours to over 5 weeks, depending on how busy HMRC are with processing TOR1s. It is also best not to assume that your TOR1 form will be accepted without additional proof required on your possessions, such as receipt of purchase older than 6 months. 


For these reasons, it is best practice to apply for transfer of residence UK relief before arranging to move your goods back to the UK. This helps you to make decisions on items that you may have to pay Duty and VAT on, as well as avoid costly rent charges if your consignment arrives on port before your TOR URN can be issued and you need to wait for customs clearance.


If you need help with a transfer of residence UK form, or any other customs services, please contact UK Customs Solutions today.

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