Goods re-imported into the European Union (EU)


You can re-import goods into the European Union (EU) without payment of Customs Duty and Value-Added Tax (VAT). These goods:

  • must have been originally exported from the EU
  • can include parts or accessories belonging to other products previously exported.

This is called Returned Goods Relief.


The relief from VAT is only allowed if the person that re-imports the goods is the same person who originally exported them.

General rules for duty relief on returned goods

  • You must re-import the goods within three years from the date of export. However, this period may be exceeded to take account of special circumstances.
  • If the goods were previously imported under the end-use procedure, you must re-import them for the same purpose. If you do not use the goods for the same purpose you will be liable to pay duty. The duty charged will be reduced by the amount paid when the goods were first released for free circulation.
  • If you import goods that are compensating products originally exported under the inward processing procedure you will have to pay duty. You will have to pay the amount you would have paid if you had entered the goods for free circulation on the date you exported them.
  • The goods you re-import must be in the same state as when they were exported. They cannot have been processed or treated abroad. However, the following treatments are allowed:
    • treatment necessary for repair or to keep the goods in good condition
    • handling or treatment which only altered the appearance of the goods
    • other treatments done to the goods that were later found to be unsuitable for the intended use of the goods.

If the value of your goods at exportation is increased by the treatment while abroad you will be liable for duty at re-importation. The duty to be paid on re-importation will be based on the outward processing rules. However, where shown that the treatment was necessary and unforeseen, relief will be allowed even if the value of the goods has increased. In these cases the treatment of the goods must be necessary to allow the goods to be used in the same way as was intended at the time of export.

Rules for duty relief on reimported agricultural goods

The following additional rules apply to agricultural goods that have benefited from export refunds:

  • The export refunds must be repaid.
  • You must re-import the goods within 12 months of the date of exportation. Revenue may allow you to exceed this period in exceptional circumstances.

The goods must have been re-imported for one of the following reasons:

  • They could not be entered for home use in the country to which they were exported because of the laws in that country.
  • They were faulty or did not comply with the contract of sale relating to them.
  • They could not be used for the purpose intended for reasons not caused by the exporter as follows:
    • The goods were returned to the European Union (EU) following damage. This damage must have been done before delivery to the goods or to the means of transport on which they were carried.
    • The goods were exported for consumption or sale at a trade fair or similar event and were not consumed or sold.
    • The goods could not be delivered because of:
      • the buyer’s physical or legal incapacity to honour the contract under which the goods were exported
      • natural, political or social disturbances, or which reached the buyer after the contractual delivery date.
    • The goods are fruit and vegetables covered by the common market organisation for those products. In this case the goods must have been exported for sale, but not sold.

Procedure at re-importation of exported goods

You will need proof that the re-imported goods are those which were exported. In the case of agricultural goods on which export refunds were paid, you will have to provide proof that the goods were rejected. The goods must have been rejected for one of the reasons described under the rules for agricultural goods.

This proof must be attached to the outside of the parcel and marked ‘Customs Documents’.

If you re-import your goods by post, the declaration (CN22 or CN23) on the parcel should state ‘Returned Goods: exemption from import charges claimed’.

If you re-import your goods other than by post, for example, by courier, you should:

  • complete an electronic customs declaration by using Revenue’s new Automated Import System (AIS)
  • enter one of the following codes in D/E 1/11 of the declaration:
    • Returned goods: F01
    • Returned goods – agricultural goods that benefited from export refunds: F02
    • Returned goods – goods treated, repaired or restored abroad: F03
  • enter the relevant procedure code in D/E 1/10 of the declaration
  • enter code 1Q27 and the number of your original export declaration in D/E 2/3 of the re-import declaration.

Proof that the goods re-imported were exported from the European Union (EU)

The following documents are generally accepted as proof that your goods were exported:

Copy of the export declaration

An original or a certified photocopy of the export declaration will usually be required. Copies of export declarations must be authenticated by Revenue or the competent authorities in the exporting Member State.

Returned goods information sheet (Form INF 3)

The returned goods information sheet (Form INF 3) is:

  • used when the exporter is aware at the time of export that the goods may be re-imported into another European Union (EU) Member State
  • and
  • completed by the competent authorities in the exporting Member State.

The original and one copy of the form will be returned to the exporter for presentation at the time of re-importation.

Where this form is used for agricultural goods on which export refunds were paid the following rules apply:

  • The form must be certified by the competent authorities in the exporting Member State.
  • and
  • One of the following endorsements must be used:
    • ‘No refunds or other amounts granted on exportation’
    • ‘Refunds and other amounts granted on exportation repaid for…..(quantity)’
    • ‘Entitlement to payment of refunds or other amounts on exportation cancelled for (quantity)’.

You can get returned goods information sheets (Form INF 3) from your Revenue Office.

ATA carnet

Where your goods were exported under an ATA carnet, this can be used as proof of export. In such cases, returned goods relief can be allowed even where the ATA carnet has expired. The goods must be re-imported within a period of three years from the date of exportation.

Other proof may be submitted if it is available. Revenue may ask for additional proof if required to help identify the re-imported goods.

Re-importation of packaging

If you export packaging filled or empty that you intend to re-import empty or filled you should complete an oral declaration for each consignment. This is normally a paper form presented to customs at the time of importation.

You can apply for an authorisation to re-import your items without having to present the oral declaration form with each consignment. This type of authorisation may suit you if you frequently export and re-import packaging.

You will find detailed information about this relief in import and re-export of packaging.

Further information

If you require further information, contact the Authorisations and Reliefs Unit. You will find a full list of prohibited and restricted goods in Information on prohibitions and restrictions.

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