Great Britain

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Making the UK Home: Importing Your Household Goods

There are various restrictions on household goods, food, cash, and medication, as well as items that are prohibited by UK customs. Understanding the rules is not always easy. We provide you with an introduction to UK customs and some resources to refer to if you need extra information.
Be informed about what you may and may not import!

Keeping It Tax-Free

You can import all your household goods duty- and tax-free, if:

  • You have lived in a non-EU country for at least twelve months and have had the goods in your possession for six or more months.
  • You did not receive these goods under a duty/tax free scheme.
  • You don’t intend to sell, lend, or dispose of the goods in the UK during the following 12 months.
  • You are moving your regular home to the EU.

Household goods can include furniture, clothing, common household appliances, and other personal effects. However, tobacco products and alcohol do not fall into this category, and you will have to declare them to customs on arrival. If you are setting up a second home in the UK, you will be asked to pay VAT.

Legally Importing Medication

While the quality of medical care in the UK is high and there are lots of pharmacies and doctors in most towns and cities, you may want to bring some prescription medicine for the first few weeks or months. In this case, it is very important to carry the medication in the correctly labeled container, keep the package insert — or package leaflet, and to carry a letter from your doctor. A certified English translation of both the letter and the package insert may also come in handy. 

Certain controlled drugs, such as Ritalin or the strong painkiller morphine sulfate, may be imported in very limited amounts and you must have a personal license. Some potentially harmless prescription medication might still require you to apply for a license if you carry more than a three-month supply.

Follow the Laws: Restricted and Prohibited Items

The following things are either subject to certain import restrictions, or are banned from the UK. Hunters or competitive marksmen should know that gun-control laws in the UK are strict. If you would like to bring a hunting rifle or a similar weapon, get in touch with HMRC well before your departure to avoid any unpleasant surprises.

There are restrictions on the following items:

  • animals or animal products such as ivory, fur, or reptile skins
  • endangered plants such as orchids, mahogany, cacti, etc.
  • firearms, explosives, ammunition
  • unlicensed radio transmitters
  • rough diamonds

You can check the exact restrictions and permitted quantities here.

It’s illegal to being the following items into the UK:

  • switchblades, daggers, mace sprays, stun guns and similar weaponry
  • illegal drugs and narcotics
  • indecent, obscene, and pornographic media


If you have any further questions about banned and restricted items into the UK — such as the amount of restricted items allowed — please contact the HMRC at:

Monday to Friday, 8:00 to 18:00: +44 (0)292 0501261

If you need a translator to help you with your phone call, let HMRC know when you call.

Further Resources

 We do our best to keep this article up to date. However, we cannot guarantee that the information provided is always current or complete. 

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