Goods re-imported into the European Union (Returned Goods Relief)

General rules for duty relief on returned goods

The following conditions must be met to claim Returned Goods Relief:

  • You must re-import the goods within three years from the date of export. However, this period may be exceeded to take account of special circumstances.
  • If the goods were previously imported under the end-use procedure, you must re-import them for the same purpose. If you do not use the goods for the same purpose, you will be liable to pay duty. The duty charged will be reduced by the amount paid when the goods were first released for free circulation.
  • If you import goods that are compensating products originally exported under the inward processing procedure, you will have to pay duty. You will have to pay the amount you would have paid if you had entered the goods for free circulation on the date you exported them.
  • The goods you re-import must be in the same state as when they were exported. They cannot have been processed or treated abroad. However, the following treatments are allowed:
    • Treatment necessary for repair or to keep the goods in good condition.
    • Handling or treatment which only altered the appearance of the goods.
    • and
    • Other treatments carried out on the goods that were later found to be unsuitable for the intended use of the goods.
  • You must be able to clearly show that goods being re-imported are the exact goods exported from the other Member State. This can be done through inventory or stock control systems using a unique identifier, batch or serial number to allow a clear audit trail of the goods from leaving the European Union (EU) until re-entry.

If the value of your goods at exportation is increased by the treatment while abroad, you will be liable for duty at re-importation. The duty to be paid on re-importation will be based on the outward processing rules.

However, where it is shown that the treatment was necessary and unforeseen, relief will be allowed even if the value of the goods has increased. In these cases, the treatment of the goods must be necessary to allow the goods to be used in the same way as was intended at the time of export.

Proof of export

Some possible proofs of export can be:

  • the returned goods information sheet (Form INF 3) completed by the competent authorities in the exporting Member State
  • or
  • a copy of the export declaration authenticated by the competent authorities in the exporting Member State.

Some examples of how the export declaration can be authenticated include a copy of the export declaration with:

  • an Exit Note
  • an Export Accompanying Document (EAD)
  • an EX3
  • or
  • a copy of the export declaration stamped or signed by the competent authorities in the exporting Member State.

Proof of export documentation should be available, if requested, at the point of importation.

Next: Rules for duty relief on re-imported agricultural goods