If you’ve been transferred to the UK, or if you’re a UK national who is returning from the USA, you would probably want to have your household items and vehicles shipped into the country with you. The process is actually manageable, but just the same, below is a simplified guide to make things easier for you.
On household items and personal effects
Diplomats who are traveling to the UK are usually granted duty-free transfer of their household goods and personal effects provided that they are able to present a completed UK Customs Form C-426, the original shipping bills, and a complete clear copy of the list of items (in detail) of their shipment. The list should be in English.
The waybills for the shipment must be labeled “Diplomatic Clearance”. The duty-free privilege must be coursed through the diplomat’s embassy who will in turn submit it to the British Foreign Office. The BFO will pass the document to the H.M. Customs, and as this process may take time, it is advisable for diplomats to submit the documents early. The documents need to be with Customs before the arrival of the shipment.
Non-diplomats who would like to ship household items and personal effects must separate used and brand new articles into separate packages and lists. For an item to be considered used and duty-free, they must have been owned by the consignee for at least six months before s/he left the USA. Items 0-6 months old are considered new and are levied for customs duties and taxes.
For used items, consignees must provide a UK Customs Form C.3, the original shipment bills, and a clear copy of the inventory in English. These goods must be shipped to the UK no later than 12 months after the consignee has arrived in the country.
New items must come with similar documents with the sales and purchase invoice attached to the document. Used and new items from the same consignee must be marked separately on the C.3 Form. It takes up to five days to clear used items and up to 10 days for new items. The personal appearance of the consignee is not required during clearance.
Motor vehicles for personal use
Motor vehicles, including cars, vans, motorcycles, boats, and air planes, can be imported duty-free provided that:
i. The vehicle has been in the consignee’s possession for at least six months before his/her departure from the USA
ii. The vehicle cannot be sold within the first year after its clearance and release to the consignee
iii. The vehicle will be reserved for personal use
To import these vehicles, the consignee must provide a Customs Form C104, documents which would prove the consignee’s ownership of the vehicle, insurance and registration cards, and the vehicle’s original purchase receipt.
It would take seven to eight days to clear, provided that the documents are complete. A detailed description of the vehicle and a letter from the manufacturer will also be asked for. The vehicle must follow British Traffic Standards and the consignee must have the proper license to use the vehicle within UK.
Industrial and commercial vehicles would require different permits. To know more about this, and to confirm the information found here, consignees are strongly advised to consult with the UK Embassy in the USA before placing the shipment.