HMRC's National Import Reliefs Unit (NIRU)

National Import Reliefs Unit - Returned Goods Relief

Returned Goods Relief (RGR) provides relief from charges on re-imported goods, which were originally in free circulation in the European Union (EU), returning in the same state as at original export.

Goods can return to the UK/EU under RGR if, for example, part of a contract or operation carried out overseas has now been completed so that the goods are now free to return to the original owners, or for goods no longer wanted by the overseas customer, due to any number of changed circumstances. The goods return to the seller based in the UK/EU who originally exported them.

RGR normally requires the use of specific import Customs Procedure Codes to claim relief from charges.

For goods to be entitled to use RGR for duty relief:

  • there must be adequate evidence to use as reference to show the goods were originally exported from the Customs Union of the UK/EU - this evidence must be supplied at re-import
  • the goods were in free circulation in the UK/EU prior to Export and no refund of Duty or VAT was claimed at export
  • the goods are being returned within three years of the original export
  • the goods are returning to the UK/EU in their original unaltered state

Additionally, for eligibility for VAT relief, the application to use RGR on re-import must be made by the original exporter.

If, on re-import, the eligibility evidence if not available for presentation, security must be taken for the value of the duty and VAT due.

HMRC's National Import Reliefs Unit (NIRU) control and give advice on RGR used by commercial traders. They also monitor traders granted certain concessions within the RGR regime. For instance, a compliant trader granted a concession will not have to provide export evidence and/or will be able to waive the three year requirement since export, on re-import. The trader will have to provide the export details and other eligibility documentation, at a later date, on the request of HMRC, as part of the assurance programme. If the during the assurance event it is discovered the trader is not complying with the conditions of the regime the concession may be withdrawn.

You can read Notice 236 on importing returned goods free of duty and tax.