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How to Relocate Your Household & Pets to the UK

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  • Jan-Peter van Tijk

    I wish I'd found InterNations sooner: It would have made my first few month as an expat in London much less overwhelming.

To begin your journey smoothly, you must find out all the relevant information on how to relocate to the UK. First, there are some main aspects you should define: are you familiar with the local visa requirements? Are you going to work, study or start a business? Do you have savings? How does the current political climate affect you? Do you need an immigration lawyer? In other words, what does it take to relocate to the UK?

Although the country offers an array of great opportunities, be prepared to face many obstacles. And, as with every major life decision comes serious consideration, it is advisable to have a pre-defined plan.

This relocation guide will cover all the essential steps for the relocation process; from the ins and outs of moving and shipping your household items, to the vaccinations required in the UK, and what you need to do to relocate your pets safely.

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Moving and Shipping Household Goods

Wondering how to move your household items and belongings to the UK? Whether by sea, air or land, shipping your belongings will involve a lot more than packing your items in a shipping container and sending them on their way.

How to Ship Household Items and Belongings

The logistics of moving your belongings to the UK may be a little confusing at first; there are several transport options available and many guidelines you must follow.

Regardless of where you’re moving  from, there are many ways of ensuring your belongings arrive safely to the UK. There are, nonetheless, several factors to consider before deciding on an international moving option.  The important things to bear in mind are keeping costs down, avoiding damage and breakages, and receiving your belongings on time.

You can import 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 do not 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.

What to Pack when Moving to the UK?

Firstly, you must be aware of UK customs regulations, allowances, and restricted and prohibited items. Bear in mind that there is a post-Brexit transition period in place. Until the end of the year, current rules will apply. From January 1, 2021 the UK’s relationship with the EU will be determined by new agreements.

One of the initial things you must consider is that the rules differ depending on whether you are from inside or outside the European Union. It is important to note that since the UK left the European Union (EU) on January 31, 2020 a transition period has been set, which is due to last until the end of 2020. During this time, current rules will apply.

Custom Regulations for the UK

  • Relocating from an EU Country: you do not usually pay tax or custom duty on goods.
  • Relocating from a non-EU country: you may be able to claim relief on tax and duty, but there are certain conditions. If you are planning on relocating permanently, you will be required to fill in form ToR01 when your items arrive in the UK. On the other hand, if you are moving temporarily, you will have to fill form C88. With the information you provide on either of these forms, customs officers will decide if you are eligible for relief or if you owe any tax and duty.

UK Prohibited and Restricted Items:

The following are prohibited:

  • illegal drugs;
  • offensive weapons, meaning that they are intended for the purpose of inflicting mental or physical injury;
  • self-defense sprays (e.g. pepper spray and CS gas);
  • endangered plants and animals;
  • rough diamonds;
  • materials of indecent and obscene nature;
  • meat and dairy products from most non-EU countries.

The following are restricted:

  • A special license is required to bring firearms, explosives and ammunition into the UK.
  • Some food and plant products are also restricted if they are not pest and disease free, are not for personal use, and were not grown in the EU or Switzerland.

What are the UK Custom Allowances?

Regardless of your country of departure, you can bring some goods without paying UK custom charges, as long as they are for personal use. However, the quantities you are allowed will differ depending on where you are arriving from:

If you are coming from the EU: you are allowed to bring an unlimited amount of most goods into the UK.

Even though there are no established limits on the alcohol and tobacco products you bring in from the EU, if a customs officer suspects you may be bringing in goods to sell, they may stop you for questioning. This generally occurs when you have more than the amounts below:

Type of goods

Cigarettes 800 Cigars 200 Cigarillos 400 Tobacco 1kg Beer 110 liters Wine 90 liters Spirits 10 liters Fortified wine 20 liters

If you are coming from outside the EU: you will have limits on what you can bring without having to pay UK tax or ‘duty’ (customs charges). This will be on the condition that you transport the goods yourself, they are for personal use or intended to be gifts, and you have already paid tax in the country you purchased them.

Alcohol allowance:

  • Beer: 16 litres
  • Wine (not sparkling): 4 litres
  • You can also bring either 1 liter of spirits and other liquors that are over 22% alcohol or 1 liter of fortified wine (e.g. port), or 2 liters of sparkling wine and alcoholic drinks up to 22% alcohol. This allowance can be distributed; for instance, you can bring with you 1 liter of fortified wine and half a liter of spirits.

Tobacco allowance

You can bring one of the following (you can distribute this allowance too):

  • 200 cigarettes
  • 100 cigarillos
  • 50 cigars
  • 250g of tobacco

Home Goods Storage

There are many reasons why you may need long and short-term storage in the process of relocation. You might want to rent temporary accommodation when you get to the UK so you can calmly choose a more permanent place to live, or the timings of the arrival of your goods and the beginning of your tenancy may not coincide. For example, your things might arrive a few weeks prior to when you can move into your new place. In this case, an easy solution is to put your items in storage in the meantime.

Long Term and Short Term Storage Companies

In the UK, there are numerous storage facilities which can be use for any length of time you require. The most popular ones are self-storage, such as:

  • Big Yellow Self Storage;
  • Safe Store;
  • Lovespace.

Vaccinations and Health Requirements for the UK

The vaccinations required for the UK are standard throughout the western world. As it is a developed country, travelling to the UK has few health risks, but there are some basic precautions you should take.

So, What Vaccinations do I Need for the UK?

The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends the following vaccines for those travelling to the UK:

  • Hepatitis A.
  • Hepatitis B.
  • Rabies, meningitis.
  • Measles, mumps and rubella (MMR).
  • Tdap (tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis).

UK Immigration Vaccination and Health Requirements

Aside from the UK immigration vaccination requirements, which follow the WHO’s “vaccine-preventable diseases monitoring system” guidelines, are there any health requirements for UK immigration?

There are no established guidelines for health requirements. Nationals from some countries have to undergo Tuberculosis (TB) screening before applying for entry clearance.

If you’re not travelling from a high-risk country, then just having the mentioned immunization and appropriate paperwork will be sufficient for you to enter the UK without issues.

Connect with like-minded expatriates

Discover our welcoming community of expats! You’ll find many ways to network, socialize, and make new friends. Attend online and in-person events that bring global minds together.

Moving with Pets

Are you moving to the UK with your pets? Are you not sure if you can bring pets into the UK? Due to international regulations, relocating your pets can be challenging. In this section, find out everything you need to know about pet relocation to the UK.

Can you Bring Your Pets into the UK?

Be aware that there are a few steps you need to take, regardless of your pet’s country of departure.

  • Verify that you can bring your pet: taking your cat, dog or ferret to the UK is possible if it has a pet passport or a third-country official veterinary certificate, and it has been microchipped and vaccinated against rabies. If your pet is traveling from an unlisted country, a blood test will also be required.
  • Get your pet microchipped: be aware that it is mandatory to get your pet microchipped before or at the same time as getting their rabies vaccine. You should not microchip your pet after the vaccine, as it will not fulfil the requirements.
  • Get your pet a rabies shot: your pet will have to be 12 weeks old and it will need to get this vaccine a certain number of days prior to traveling. It is important that you get these timings right because the law establishes that your pet has to join you in the UK no more than five days before or after your own arrival. If for any reason this is not possible, stricter rules will apply.
  • Get tapeworm treatment: this only applies if you are taking your dog to the UK. The treatment must be recorded on the pet passport or third-country official veterinary certificate.
  • Get the adequate documentation: you will either need a pet passport or valid veterinary certificate, depending from where your pet is traveling.

UK Pet Relocation and Brexit

It is very important that you are aware of the post-Brexit transition period. Until the end of 2020, current rules will apply. From January 1, 2021 the UK’s relationship with the EU will be determined by new agreements. Just to be safe, if you are planning to move abroad after that date, start the pet relocation process to the UK at least four months in advance.

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