Clear Customs

Returning a vehicle manufactured in the EU

The vehicle was manufactured in the EU


Any goods manufactured in the EU, returning back to the EU, are generally exempt from Import Duty. However, depending on the circumstances surrounding the vehicle's departure from the EU, you may not qualify for this when importing your car.

Although its generally regarded as common knowledge that a car such as a Ferrari, for example, is Italian, and that Rolls Royce cars, is designed and built in Great Britain. Most people, including UK Customs, know this, and know that other makes are built in certain other European Countries. In fact, there's just too many to mention here.

Well, true as it may be, any motor vehicles which was manufactured in the EU can only qualify for Return Goods Relief (RGR), if the importer has obtained documentary evidence that the vehicle being imported was manufactured for the European market.

Vehicles manufactured for the export market (outside of the EU) are classified as 'New goods to the EU' and therefore must have Customs duty and / or VAT paid in full (unless other circumstances apply).

- Export evidence:

As far as UK Customs are concerned, if you are claiming relief from any import duty or VAT, then its down to you, the importer, to provide documentary evidence to show that the goods were exported from the EU.

The type of document that they are after is usually one of the following:

  • Copy export entry (C88/NES)
  • Export invoice
  • Export Bill of Lading/Airway Bill
  • If none of these are available from the vehicles manufacturer, you might want to try and obtain a letter or fax (on company headed paper), from them, declaring that all the parts for your particular vehicle, were both manufactured and assembled in the EU.

    Unfortunately failure to provide this documentary evidence means that your vehicle will be liable to the full rate of import duty and / or VAT. ukimports

    FAQ. My vehicle was Originally manufactured within the EU (EEC), does this make any difference? ..... ..... ..... ..... ..... ..... ..... ..... ..... ..... ..... ..... ..... ..... ..... ..... ..... ..... ..... .....


    A. Return Goods Relief (RGR) on Motor Vehicles

    If you are importing a motor vehicle which was manufactured in an EU Country, then it is possible to claim relief on duty and/or VAT when that vehicles returns, but eligibility depends on yours and the vehicles circumstances and also your ability to obtain the necessary documentary evidence which UK Customs will need from you.

    Everybody knows that Porches are built in Germany, the same as Mercedes Cars and Audis. Ferraris, Italy. Volvos, Sweden and so on. However, this knowledge is not enough for UK Customs. To be eligible for relief you will need to provide documentary evidence to support your claim that the vehicle was made in the EU.

    So what document(s) are Customs wanting to see?

    The answer to this is not set in stone. Their preferred proof would be a copy of the UK export declaration when the vehicle originally left the UK, but as most of these are shipped in bulk, it is nearly impossible to obtain this.

    The most common acceptable evidence is a letter from the manufacturer. The easiest way is to contact the Customer Services department and provide them with the vehicles VIN number, and they should be able to provide written confirmation on their Company letter-headed paper stating the Country of manufacture.

    FAQ. The manufacturer of my vehicle is not around anymore... what do I do now?

    A. Companies like Austin, Triumph, Morris, Wolseley etc. are no longer trading, so as contacting their Customer Services department is not an option, information on the manufacturing and history of these and other brands are usually held by the Heritage or Owners Clubs, therefore, a letter from these, mentioning your vehicles year of manufacture is usually acceptable.

    B. Relief from Import Duty or nominal amount

    As far as the Customs Tariff is concerned, by providing the amount documentary evidence, you should be eligible for relief from Import Duty. However... It has long been argued that as some vehicles are not new, these used vehicles may have on them parts or accessories which did not originate from within the EU. It is for this reason, that UK Customs Officers especially those in the Car Team argue that the importers of used vehicles should pay a nominal £ 50.00 for Import Duty.

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    We assist with the registering of a lot of vehicles, by way of payment of any duty and VAT to UK Customs. As you can appreciate, this only applies to vehicles coming from outside the EU or any Special Territories (such as the Channel Islands).

    When it comes to vehicles which originate from another EU Member Country, we give the following advice and instruct people to come back to us, should they need to make any payment to HMRC … which they usually don’t: ....................................................................................... Note:

    If your vehicle is coming in from another EU member Country, there should be no need to declare it to UK Customs (and usually no VAT to pay), therefore you would not need the services of a Customs broker, like ourselves.

    If this applies to you, then please contact the following departments, who should be able to confirm that this is the case:

  • HMRC – Personal Transport Unit (T) 03000 583 020
  • DVLA – Vehicle Enquiries (T) 0300 790 6802
  • If, after speaking to these departments, they advise that there is VAT to pay, then please come back to us and we can then assist you further.


    Remember : Shipping and Customs clearance doesn't have to be expensive, but choosing the wrong agent could be! ™ ukimports

    For more information on importing cars, motorcycles, boats, pick-ups or any other motor vehicle, please feel free to contact a member of our Imports Team, on 0845 309 6360, or email us at:

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