When I shipped my personal belongings to Ireland last year via an international removal service, I was unaware of what documentation I would need to produce in Ireland, to allow my things to clear customs. Out of the blue one day, I received an email informing me that I had to call a logistics company here in Ireland to have my goods cleared (they were not yet in Ireland, but almost). I didn't have a great international shipping experience (you can read my step-by-step guide to choosing an international shipping company here), so I wasn't too surprised to find out that the logistics people weren't expecting my call, and that they had no knowledge of my shipment. I won't bore you with the details, but after a couple of emails and phone calls back and forth they realized that they were responsible for helping getting my belongings through customs here in Ireland.

I supplied my email address to my contact at the logistics firm, and soon after was sent a list of things that I needed to furnish before my goods would clear customs. This list was a combination of information, declarations, payment and more. I'll itemize everything I was asked for below. I hope my experience will help simplify your own customs experience. Keep in mind that I moved from the US to Ireland. Those of you moving from within the EU will have a slightly different process to follow. I'll touch on that below.

1. Transfer of Residence form

The most detailed document you'll need to fill in for customs clearance here in Ireland is the Transfer of Residence form 1076 (full name: Form C&E 1076 - Transfer of Residence from outside the EU - Application and Declaration for Exemption from Import Charges and Vehicle Registration Tax). In it, you'll need to provide:

  • Personal details
  • Property information (i.e.about your shipment)
  • Details about any vehicle you're importing (see below for more info)
  • A signed declaration of transfer of residence, including a statement that your property was in your possession and was used by you at your place of previous normal residence outside Ireland for a minimum period of at least six months prior to taking up residence in Ireland.
  • A detailed description of the goods you are importing, and their value. Talk with the logistics agent about the level of detail required here. I kept the description at a very high level, and that worked for me, but this may change on a case-by-case basis.

You will most likely need to post the original Transfer of Residence form to the logistics company you are working with, so that it can be presented to the customs agents. I was required to do this, and did so via registered post to be sure it was received.

Your logistics or shipping company should be able to provide you with a PDF copy of form 1076, but if not you should be able to locate it at this link.

2. Evidence of taking up residence

I was asked to provide evidence that I have taken up residence in Ireland, and proof of my previous residence in the States. To satisfy this I produced 2 "final bills" and an insurance cancellation receipt from the USA.

As evidence of moving back to Ireland, I included a doctors letter to state I had registered with them, an electric bill, and a letter of employment. Other documents that may also satisfy this request include bank statements, lease agreements, mortgage information, etc.

You may not need all of this, but the more evidence you can produce, the better chance you have of having your shipment released in a timely manner.

3. Fees

The logistics company quoted me 3 fees which they described as follows (these are unrelated to shipping costs I paid):

  • Agency fee: €65.00
  • Customs clearance fee: €65.00
  • Handling at Bond charges = €167.37

I have no idea how these are calculated, or if yours will be in any way similar, but it gives you a starting point, and something to query with the agent. Or, maybe your shipping company will build in all these costs ahead of time. When you receive shipping quotes, be sure to ask the representative exactly what is, and what's not, covered.
The person I corresponded with indicated that VAT may also be assessed on my goods, and that I'd be informed once that was calculated. As it turns out, in my case, no VAT was charged.

4. PPS Number

I was asked to provide my Irish PPS number (this is like a US social security number), which was fine, as I had grown up here and had one from before. However if you are new to Ireland, you may not have one of these yet. My guess is that they can't force you to provide a PPS number, but I'm not sure what the implications are for those of you that don't yet have one. Please get in touch if you know more details on this.


Special circumstances

5. Importing a motor vehicle to Ireland

When you import a car to Ireland from abroad (from within or outside the EU), there are some very unique requirements related to your residency abroad, and related to the motor vehicle itself, that have to be met before you are entitled to relief from VAT and vehicle registration tax (VRT). I did not import a car to Ireland, so I am not going to go in to any detail about this topic here. Revenue.ie is the official source of information, and that is where you can figure out if you will qualify for relief for any fees.
The place to start is the Transfer of Residence Leaflet. From there you can download the various application forms, and review the requirements. It covers transfers from outside and within the EU.

6. Importing alcohol or cigarettes to Ireland

If your shipment of "personal effects" include any amount of alcohol or cigarettes, you will need to declare it. The bad news on this is that there is no VAT/customs relief available for these items other than what you would normally be allowed when travelling from a non-EU country.
You should also be aware of other situations whereby no relief from Customs Duty or VAT is available e.g. work related items. Review leaflet PN 1875 for details
Additionally, there are a number of restricted items, which you cannot bring with you or you might need a license for (e.g. guns, explosives). Again, leaflet PN 1875 will provide the official details.

In summary

I recommend being thorough in your research, so that there are no surprises on arrival in Ireland. The linked resources below should help you understand what you need to minimize your customs bill.
Keep in mind, that the experience described above is my own. Yours, depending on any number of circumstances or conditions, may be quite different. Ask questions of your shipping company, and visit Revenue.ie for official info.

Important Resources

image credit: Customs House Dublin - Flickr/jad99