Goods re-imported into the European Union (Returned Goods Relief)

Updated on March 23, 2022


The European Union (EU) does not impose customs duties or VAT on re-imports of products from outside the EU (VAT). The following items are available for purchase:

Parts or accessories from other items that were previously exported from the EU may be included in an item that was initially exported from the EU.
Returned Goods Relief is the term for this.


When products are re-imported, they are exempt from VAT if they were exported by the same person who re-exported them.

General rules for duty relief on returned goods

Within three years of export, you must re-import the items. In some cases, however, this time frame may be extended.
You must re-import the items for the same purpose if they were previously imported using the end-use technique. You must pay duty if you don’t use the goods for the same purpose. The sum paid when the products were originally introduced into the market will be deducted from the duty that would be levied.
You must pay duty if you import goods that are compensating for things that were exported through the inbound processing procedure. Pay what you would have had to pay if you’d entered them into free circulation at the time of export.
Exports must be in the same condition as when they left the country. They could not have been processed or treated outside of the country. Exceptions to this rule include treatments required to restore or maintain the items’ good condition, as well as handling or treatment that merely altered the goods’ look.
additional processes applied to the goods that turned out to be ineffective for their original purpose.
If the treatment you receive while overseas raises the worth of your exports, you’ll be liable for duty when you re-import them. The re-importation tax will be based on the rules for outbound processing. However, relief will be granted even if the products’ value has grown if it can be proven that the treatment was both required and unexpected. If the items are to be utilised in the same manner as they were intended at the time of export, then the treatment of the goods is required.

Rules for duty relief on reimported agricultural goods

Agricultural export refunds are subject to the extra regulations set forth below:

Reimbursement of export refunds is required.
Importation must be completed within 12 months of export. In extraordinary instances, you may be able to extend this term.
For one of the following reasons, the products were re-imported:

Because of local regulations, they were unable to be imported for personal use in the country from which they were shipped.
Some of the items were defective or did not meet contractual requirements.
Due to circumstances outside of the exporter’s control, they were unable to be used for the intended purpose.
Damaged items were sent back to the European Union (EU). This damage must have occurred prior to the goods being delivered or the mode of transportation they were transported on.
A trade fair or comparable event was held where the items were meant to be eaten or sold, but they never made it there.
Natural, political, or social upheavals, or which arrived at the buyer beyond the agreed-upon delivery date, prevented the items from being delivered to their intended recipient.
Fruits and vegetables are the products in question, and as such, the CMO governs them. It’s possible that the products were exported but never sold in this situation, thus they must have been exported for sale.

Procedure at re-importation of exported goods

In order to re-import previously exported products, you will need documentation of the initial exports. To receive an export reimbursement for agricultural goods, you must provide confirmation that the goods were rejected. The commodities must have been rejected for a reason based on agricultural products criteria.

When delivering these items to the receiver, please take care to avoid the following:

A label on the front of your package should clearly indicate that the item contains customs paperwork.
Postal services and couriers must know what’s inside the package before it’s delivered. Including the following details about the products is a good idea:
product identification, as well as its proper price
On the outside of the package, write “Returned goods: exclusion from import expenses.”.
Automated Import System can be used by Revenue to complete an electronic customs declaration by courier or postal service (AIS).

The following information must be included in the customs declaration:

It is possible to return the merchandise.
In D/E 1/11, type in one of the following code:
Customs charges are not charged on merchandise that has been returned. Export refunds were provided for agricultural items that were returned. Outside of the United States, products that have been repaired or restored are subject to F02 (returned goods). F03 Customs and VAT are not applied to goods that have been returned to the original exporter and reimported (VAT). Your original export declaration code 1Q99, the number of your INF3, and the number of your re-import declaration D/E 1/10 and D/E 2/3 code 1Q27 are all equal to an F05.

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

In order to prove that your items were exported, the following documents are commonly accepted:

From Ireland’s first exports
The MRN and a copy of the export certificate.

items imported from a different EU member state
A certified copy of the export declaration from the appropriate customs authority.

Informational sheet for goods returned (Form INF 3)
Form INF 3, Information Sheet for Returned Goods, contains the following information:

exported with knowledge that the products may be reimported into another EU Member State and completed by the relevant authorities of the exporting EU member state.
When the exporter re-imports the product, he or she will receive the original and a copy of the form.

The following rules apply if this form is utilised for agricultural items that received export refunds:

Certification by the exporting country’s authorities is required for this form to be valid.
one of the following options is required: a
There will be no refunds or other amounts awarded on exportation. ‘Refunds and other amounts granted on exportation have been reimbursed for (quantity). The entitlement to refunds or other amounts on exportation has been cancelled.’
Your Revenue Office should be able to provide you with returned goods information sheets (Form INF 3).

The ATA Carnet
This can be used as proof of export if your items were shipped under an ATA carnet. Even if the ATA carnet has expired, returned goods relief can still be granted. There are three-year time limits for re-importation of products that have been exported.

If additional evidence is available, it can be supplied. If extra proof is needed to identify the re-imported items, Revenue may ask for it.

Re-importation of packaging

Each consignment should have an oral declaration completed if it is exporting packaging that will be re-imported empty or filled. Importers typically use a paper form to provide this information to customs officials.

You don’t have to produce an oral declaration form with each consignment when applying for a re-import authorization. In the event that you routinely export and re-import packaging, this form of authorization may be ideal for you.

You can learn more about this relief in the section on packaging imports and exports.

Additional details are available upon request.
Contact the Authorizations and Reliefs Unit if you need additional information. Information on prohibitions and limitations has a comprehensive list of prohibited and restricted commodities.