Shipping your belongings back to Ireland
If you’re returning to Ireland for an extended period of time, you will need to ship your belongings home.
You may be able to travel with smaller items in your luggage, post them or send them by courier. You will need a shipping container if you are returning with bigger items, such as furniture or cars.
There are a large number of international shipping companies available. Do your research and shop around for the company that best suits you and your needs.
This document has information that will help you get your belongings home to Ireland.
How much will it cost to ship my belongings home?
The cost of shipping your belongings to Ireland will depend on their size, weight and shape. It may also depend on the distance you are shipping them.
To give you a quote, your chosen shipping company will require an estimate of the size of your goods (including wrapping) in cubic meters or feet.
They will also need to know if you want your goods to travel in a ‘Full Container Load’ (FCL) or a ‘Less than Container Load’ (LCL). An FCL means you will have exclusive use of a container. An LCL means your goods will travel in a shared container with the personal belongings of other movers.
What taxes do I have to pay on my items?
The import charges that you may have to pay are Customs Duty, Excise Duty and Value Added Tax (VAT).
Customs Duty is a tax on the import and export of goods. It is normally calculated as a percentage of the goods’ value. For non-commercial goods, valued at €700 or less, you may be able to benefit from a standard rate of 2.5%.
Excise Duty is a tax charged on the import and export of alcohol and tobacco products.
Value Added Tax (VAT) is a tax on the sale of goods and services. It is charged at the point of importation at the rate that would apply to the item if it was bought in Ireland. Different VAT rates apply to different goods.
If you’re shipping your personal belongings to Ireland from within the European Union, you will not have to pay Value Added Tax (VAT) in Ireland. This is because you will have already paid VAT in the member state where you bought the goods. There are some exceptions to this, including your car and goods subject to excise duty (such as alcohol and tobacco products). Read Revenue’s information for travellers arriving in Ireland from member states of the European Union.
What items can I get Customs Duty and VAT relief on?
If you’re shipping your belongings to Ireland from outside the European Union, you may be able to claim Customs Duty and Value Added Tax (VAT) relief on certain items. These include:
- Personal property and household effects, including those belonging to members of your household
- Bicycles, motorcycles, private cars, trailers, caravans, small boats and private aeroplanes
- Wedding presents, if you’re returning to Ireland after getting married.
There is no relief from Customs Duty and VAT for:
- Any tobacco or alcohol in excess of your normal duty free allowance
- Tools that are used in a trade
- Property being imported for commercial reasons, unless you are transferring your business to Ireland.
Revenue has a full list of rules relating to relief from Customs Duty and VAT.
You will not have to pay VAT on any personal belongings you are bringing to Ireland from within the European Union, apart from exceptions mentioned above.
The importation of some goods is prohibited or may require a licence.
What do I need to know about importing a vehicle?
In general, all vehicles brought into Ireland are subject to Vehicle Registration Tax (VRT) and must be registered. You must pay VRT and register your vehicle at a National Car Testing Service (NCTS) centre.
If you’re importing a car or small van, the amount of VRT you pay is based on a percentage of its recommended retail price, including all taxes. This is known as the Open Market Selling Price (OMSP). For an estimate of the VRT that you will pay on your vehicle, see Revenue’s VRT calculator.
Some vehicles may be subject to reliefs or exemptions from VRT, such as a vehicle which you have owned for at least 6 months before transferring your residence to Ireland. In this case you must still register your vehicle, but you will not have to pay VRT.
If you are moving to Ireland and are exempt from paying VRT, you cannot sell your vehicle for more than 12 months after the vehicle is registered. If you are required to pay VRT, then you can sell your vehicle here in Ireland when you wish, once it has been registered.
For more information, please see our document on Importing a vehicle into Ireland.
Can I insure my items?
As items can be damaged in transit, it is important to insure your belongings. Most shipping companies will include an insurance option in the packages they offer. If you take out a policy, make sure you know exactly what items are covered and in what circumstances.
If you hire the shipping company to wrap your belongings and pack the container, make sure you have a detailed inventory of every item that you are shipping. Keep any relevant receipts and sales invoices for the items too.
What documentation do I need?
When you collect your goods in Ireland, you must have a Transfer of Residence (pdf) declaration form and present it to Revenue. This provides a detailed description of the goods and their value.
You will also be asked to show proof of your:
- Transfer of residence to Ireland (such as an employer’s letter, or a document relating to the purchase or rental of property)
- Previous residence abroad (such as a utility bill)
- Ownership and use of the goods you are importing (such as invoices or receipts).
Read Revenue’s guide to procedure at importation for more information.