Relief from Duties

There are various categories of goods which are relieved from customs duties

  • personal property of persons transferring their residence to the EU for at least 12 months
  • goods imported on marriage;
  • personal goods inherited by persons resident in the EU;
  • household goods and furnishings imported by persons outside the EU to furnish a secondary residence in the EU;
  • clothing materials furniture of students coming to study in the EU;
  • consignments whose value is less than €22 (except alcohol, tobacco, toiletries and perfumes);
  • small consignments of a non-commercial nature sent by private persons outside the EU to private persons within the EU with a value of less than €45;
  • capital goods of a firm moving its base / establishing activities within the EU and ending them in a third country;
  • non-commercial goods in the personal luggage of travellers; there are quantitative limits for alcohol, tobacco and perfume; other goods are limited to €1,750;
  • agricultural, beekeeping, horticultural and forestry products obtained by EU citizens;
  • laboratory animals and biological chemical substances for research;
  • therapeutic substances of human origin;
  • instruments for medical research, diagnosis and treatment;
  • pharmaceuticals imported at the time of international sports events;
  • educational scientific and cultural materials;
  • goods for charitable and philanthropic organisations;
  • articles intended for blind or disabled persons;
  • honorary decorations, gifts and award;
  • goods for trade promotion
  • goods for examination and analysis or testing
  • certain consignments to organisations charged with protecting intellectual property rights.

Personal Baggage and Importation

There is an exemption for goods imported in personal luggage, below €430 in the case of persons over 15 years (€215 under 15 years)  from VAT and excise duty.

There are quantitative limits on the personal importation of alcohol and cigarettes. The maximum permitted under the exemption are

  • 200 cigarettes;
  • 50 cigars;
  • 1 litre of alcoholic beverage exceeding 22% proof;
  • 2 litres, where not exceeding 22% proof.

Permanent Relief from Import Charges

There are some permanents relief from customs duties, vat and other charges. The procedures applicable differ depending on the nature of the relief concerned.

Generally, goods which are imported free of charge may not be disposed of sold or lent within 12 months of the declaration claiming the relief.  If the relevant relief is not granted an appeal may be made. Certain reliefs require an application to customs  and the completion of prescribed forms.

Certain reliefs are claimed by making the requisite entries on the AEP or SAD. A range of goods qualifies for relief, for various policy purposes. In each case, the relevant documentary evidence must be furnished, and the requisite exemption must be claimed on the Single Administrative Document.

Revenue may examine imports and consignments to verify compliance with exemptions. The goods may be examined at private premises. The examination may take place at the clearance of private aircraft, boats, caravans, traders and mobiles home. Revenue undertakes a risk assessment and analysis approach.

Moving Residence to Ireland

There are wide reliefs for persons transferring residence to Ireland from outside the EU. Certain conditions apply. There is an exemption from duties for the following:

  • personal goods which have been purchased outside the EU and on which full tax has been paid in the relevant country;
  • the goods have been in the possession of the person transferring residence for at least six months at his former place of residence;
  • the goods are intended for the same use when the person is resident within the EU;
  • the person had his residence outside the EU for at least twelve months prior to the transfer or intended to do so;
  • importation takes place within six months before or twelve months after the date of the transfer.

Proof of the relevant facts must be submitted to the Revenue Commissioners. Evidence of the purchase of the goods, documentation relating to the new place of residence, employment and relocation are required. The person must transfer normal residence to Ireland or another EU country. The relevant declarations must be completed.

Death and Marriage

Goods imported on the occasion of marriage on a transfer of residence are exempted under similar conditions. The person concerned must be:

  • transferring his normal place of residence to the EU;
  • have resided outside the EU for 12 months;
  • gifts being imported must not exceed €1000 and must be received from a person outside the EU;
  • goods are imported two months before or four months after the wedding;
  • the goods must not be hired out or sold within 12 months.

Personal property of a deceased person acquired by inheritance is exempt from customs when imported from outside the EU by person’s resident in the State or persons engaged in non-profit making activity. The importation must be within two years of the date of inheritance.

Transferring Capital Goods and Equipment

There is an exemption for the transfer of capital goods and equipment upon the transfer of a business to the EU. It covers capital goods, equipment and livestock moved from non-EU countries by a person who ceases business abroad in order to carry-on a similar activity within the EU.

The goods

  • must have been used for at least 12 months prior to the transfer in the other country for the relevant activity;
  • must be intended for use for the same purposes after the transfer;
  • must be appropriative to the nature and size of the undertaking;
  • must not be imported where the transfer to the EU of the business concerned is consequent on a merger or absorption by a business within the EU where a new activity is not intended to be taken up.

The requisite evidence must be furnished to the customs authorities. Prescribed forms must be completed and accepted by the Revenue. Relief from VAT does not apply in respect of certain exempt activities;


There is an exemption from import duties for student’s personal belongings brought into the EU for use during studies. Educational materials are also covered.

Certain educational, scientific and cultural materials may be imported free of customs duty, but generally not vat. The articles must of the types specified in customs legislation and be for the purpose of public educational scientific or cultural establishments or organizations.

They may be scientific instruments, or apparatus imported exclusively for non-commercial uses by a public establishment or other body engaged in education and scientific research approves by the Department Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation or a scientific research establishment established outside the EU. The equipment must be for the purpose of international scientific research programs based in the EU. approved by the state concerned.

Laboratory animals, biological and chemical substances intended for research qualify for exemption from duties and from vat, subject to conditions, under broadly similar terms. They must be intended for public establishments engaged in education or scientific research or private establishments approved by the Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation. All live animals are subject to border post inspection.

Therapeutic substances of human origin, and blood grouping and tissue-type reagents intended for laboratories, approved by the Department for use exclusively for a non- commercial medical or scientific purpose qualify for a similar exemption.

Medicinal Supplies

Articles imported by blind, handicapped or disabled persons listed in legislation are exempt from import charges. They may be organized by the person concerned or by an institution or organization approved by the Department. The exemption also applies to spare parts. Generally, the goods may not be disposed of whether by payment or free of charge, without notification and approval by the Revenue.

Medical equipment and goods intended for research on establishing a medical diagnosis or carrying out medical treatment may be imported free from customs duty, subject to conditions. They must be donated by a charitable or humanitarian organization, by a private individual to health authorities or medical research institutions approved by Revenue to receive goods free. Alternatively, they may be purchased by such authorities where there is no commercial intent on the part of the donor, who must not be connected with the manufacturer of the goods for which relief is claimed.

There are exemptions for reference substances for the quality control of medicinal products and pharmaceutical products for use by persons and animals. participating in international sports events.

Certain goods for charitable and humanitarian organizations may be imported free of import charges. They include

  • basic necessities imported by State or charitable organizations for distribution free of charge,
  • goods sent from outside the EU with no commercial intent on the part of the sender to such State, charitable or humanitarian organizations:
  • equipment and office materials sent from outside the EU with no commercial intent for the purpose of such organization;


Honorary decorations, awards and goodwill presents, cups, medals or similar articles of a symbolic nature awarded to a person resident in the EU are exempted on certain condition. They must be offered on an occasional basis, do not by their nature value or quality, reflect any commercial intent and must not be used for commercial purposes. The exemption applies to persons awarded or by organizations hosting the awards or events.

Trade Promotion and Tourism

Certain goods for trade promotion purposes may be imported free of duties:

  • sample goods of negligible value for the purposes of seeking orders of the goods they represent;
  • printed matter such as catalogues, brochures and price lists offered by persons established outside the EU, subject to certain conditions;
  • articles for advertising purposes of no essential commercial value sent free of charge;
  • products used or consumed at trade or similar events;

Tourism information literature designed to encourage the public to visit third countries, in particular, cultural, tourist, religious and professional meetings are exempt, subject to certain conditions. The material must be distributed free of charge and contain no more than 25 percent commercial advertising. Similar exemptions apply to third country hotel lists and yearbooks offered by or on behalf of official tourist agencies and timetables for foreign transport services.


Certain goods imported for examination, analysis or test purposes may be imported free of duties subject to conditions. They must be imported for the purpose of information or for industrial or commercial research. Certain conditions apply.

Unless the goods are fully destroyed or consumed in the course of examination or analysis, the Revenue can require that duty be paid or that they be surrendered or re-exported. Revenue determines what type of records must be maintained.

Various Exemptions

Ancillary materials for stowage and the protection of goods during the transport may be admitted free from import charges. This includes cardboard, wood, plastics, straw, cloth and rope.

Certain imports of hay straw and peat moss litter are subject to prohibition to prevent the spread of foot and mouth disease. Litter and food for animals during transport are similarly exempted.

Coffins containing bodies, urns, flowers wreath and ornamental objects, brought by persons attending a funeral to decorate graves within the EU, are exempt provided that they do not by their nature or quantity, reflect any commercial intent.

There are various other exemptions which may be claimed by declaration including

  • certain publications of foreign bodies intended for distribution free of charge;
  • ballot papers form third-party countries;
  • files, archives, documents used in international meetings, conferences or congresses;
  • printed forms, tickets and bills of lading, waybills and commercial or another official document;
  • photographs sent to press agencies.

Consignments sent to bodies protecting industrial and commercial rights may be imported free of import charges, subject to certain conditions.

In each case, the appropriate declaration must be completed. Where SAD entry is required, this must be made. It must be proved that the exemption applies. Documentary evidence may be required.

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