Reliefs for the transfer of permanent residence from a third country to the territory of the European Union


Non-EU goods imported from countries outside the European Union, including the UK, must be placed under a procedure of "release for free circulation" in order for them to be used in the European Union, which generally results in the payment of customs duties and VAT.

If a person transfers his or her normal place of residence from a third country outside the European Union to the European Union, import duty relief may be granted under certain conditions.

Chapter I of Title II of the Council Regulation (EC) No 1186/2009 of 16 November 2009 setting up a Community system of reliefs from customs duty (duty exemption regulation) regulates final import of personal property by natural persons transferring their normal place of residence from a third country to the customs territory of the Community.

1) Scope of personal property

Personal property imported by natural persons transferring their normal place of residence from a third country – e.g. United Kingdom – to the customs territory of the European Union shall be admitted free of import duties.

Personal property means any property intended for the personal use of the persons concerned or for meeting their household needs, which include in particular:

  • household effects, i.e. personal effects, clothing, furnishings and equipment intended for the personal use of the persons concerned or for meeting their household needs,
  • cycles and motor cycles, private motor vehicles and their trailers, camping caravans, pleasure craft and private aeroplanes.

Food for household purposes meeting normal family needs, household pets and saddle animals, as well as the portable instruments of the applied or liberal arts, required by the person concerned for the pursuit of his trade or profession, shall also constitute personal property.

Personal property must not be such as might indicate, by its nature or quantity, that it is being imported for commercial reasons.

To qualify for the exemption, personal property must meet the following conditions:

  • except in special cases justified by the circumstances, it is in the possession of the person concerned, and
  • in the case of goods which are not consumable and which the person concerned used in his former normal place of residence for at least six months before the date on which he ceased to have his normal place of residence in the third country of dispatch;
  • serves the same purpose in the new normal place of residence.

No relief may be granted for:

  • alcoholic products;
  • tobacco or tobacco products;
  • commercial means of transport;
  • articles for use in the exercise of a trade or profession, other than portable instruments of the applied or liberal arts.

2) Verification of eligibility for exemption

Exemption may only be granted to persons whose normal place of residence has been outside the customs territory of the European Union for a continuous period of at least twelve months, and this fact must be proved beyond reasonable doubt to the customs authorities. Examples of proof that may be submitted include a lease contract, sales contract, certificate of address, utility bill, certificate issued by embassy, etc. for a residential property in a third country.

It must also be proved beyond doubt that the natural person has established residence in the European Union. Proof of this may include, inter alia, an official certificate of residence issued by the competent authorities of Hungary, a lease contract, employment contract, etc.

The fact that a person has a registered permanent residence in Hungary (has an address card) does not mean beyond doubt that he/she has his/her habitual residence, i.e. the permanent centre of his/her vital interests in Hungary. Therefore, a permanent residence declared in Hungary does not in itself establish the fact of its establishment in the territory of the European Union, i.e. the actual transfer of habitual residence.

In order to determine habitual residence, the relevant facts must be examined, which include, inter alia:

  • the actual physical presence of that person and his or her family members, whether they have a place of residence,
  • where the children actually attend school,
  • where the professional activity is pursued,
  • the location of property interests and administrative relations with public authorities and social organisations.

These factors reflect the will of the person concerned to establish a certain stability in the place of secondment as a result of lifestyle and the development of normal social and professional relationships.

The above documents justifying the eligibility for duty relief must be submitted to the competent customs department when applying for the customs procedure for release for free circulation, which may take place at any time within twelve months of the transfer of normal residence to the customs territory of the European Union. Within the period referred to above, personal property may be released for free circulation in several separate consignments. For the release for free circulation in a customs procedure, the list of personal properties must be submitted at list level to the Directorate responsible for the procedure. This list will be annexed to the written customs declaration submitted by the person concerned or his/her representative. The written customs declaration shall be processed electronically in the customs data processing system.

The customs procedure of duty free release for free circulation also means exemption from VAT.

The customs procedure may be initiated at any county (capital) tax and customs directorate, and is based on a customs declaration, on which the authenticity of the data presented shall be backed up by supporting documents - i.e. invoice, transport document, etc.

A customs declaration may be lodged by any person presenting or having presented the goods in question to the competent customs authorities, together with all the documents required for the application of the rules governing the customs procedure in question. The completion guide of the customs declaration form is available on the website of NTCA (Hungarian version only):

The EORI number must be indicated on customs declarations submitted to proceed with the customs procedure. This is a registration and identification number which can be used by the applicants in their dealings with the customs authorities throughout the territory of the European Union. Clients who do not yet have an EORI number can apply for an identification number at the tax and customs directorates of NTCA.

More information on how to apply for an EORI number is available on the website of NTCA:

3) Prohibition of alienation

It is important to note that until twelve months have elapsed from the date of acceptance of the release for free circulation, personal property imported free of duty may not be lent, pledged, hired out or transferred, whether for consideration or free of charge, without prior notification to the competent authorities.

Any lending, pledging, hiring out or transferring before the expiry of twelve months shall give rise to payment of import duties on the personal property concerned.

4) Representation

Whether the move is made by private car or by a removal company is not a factor in the procedure, and it is also possible for the person moving to submit the customs declaration himself/herself. However, it should be noted that it may be very difficult for persons without customs expertise to complete the said declaration, as the required data must be largely in coded form (e.g. procedure codes, transaction type codes, etc.) in accordance with EU customs legislation. Although these coded data are available in the referred completion guide, in many cases this is not a solution for staff without customs expertise.

Therefore, it is recommended and possible to use the services of companies specialised in assisting customs procedures (customs representatives) for the lodging of declarations. These representatives may charge various costs and fees for the service they provide in relation to the handling of the transaction for the principal, on which the authorised representatives can provide information.


National Tax and Customs Administration