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How Brexit Has Restricted Movement Of Personal Goods From UK To EU

Movement Of Personal Belongings


The landmark decision of the UK to leave the European Union (EU) and the unwelcome arrival of COVID-19 have both changed life as we know it. If you’re planning to move to an EU country and wish to view a property, the good news is that it’s still possible, only you’ll have to think about the red-amber-green system because of COVID-19.



Unfortunately, the UK’s departure from the EU means things are a little less straightforward than before because of the restrictions on movement of people and of goods. Below is a little look at how things have gotten a little bit tougher now when it comes to moving around personal belongings.


Transporting your possessions to Europe

The days of moving items as you please are over. Now you’ve got customs and paperwork to consider. Just like when you’re going in the opposite direction and transporting purchases from Europe to Britain and may have to pay VAT twice —in the country of origin of the goods and in Britain itself— you’re going to encounter a similar system in Europe.

To avoid paying tax unnecessarily, the best thing you can do is check the local rules on import duty, VAT and eligibility of transfer of relief for residency. Note that different countries will have different rules and you’ll have to do things their way.

It’s important to remember that Brexit has created a lot of uncertainty. The two parties are still negotiating agreement on some issues and there seems to be confusion around the movement of personal belongings. Again, the best course of action is to contact a consulate or embassy to clarify what you need to do before making any arrangements to move your belongings or yourselves to a new home.

The impact on your removal company

Brexit will also have had an impact on your removal company, who will have to cross customs areas. As a result, they may have additional paperwork to fill in. They’ll also be subject, potentially, to more vehicle checks and inspections.

This means when you’re organising your move, you should give yourself some time either side of the move for delays. Even at the best of times, moving is stressful and problems can come up. If there is an issue with paperwork or the removal vehicle (or the contents of the vehicle) doesn’t pass a check for some reason, it could delay your move… or at least the arrival of your belongings if you’ve already moved into the property.


Bringing your pets to the EU

If not just you, but also your pet(s) are starting a new life in a European country, you need to know that the rules around this have changed as well. Your pet’s British passport will no longer be valid for travelling in the EU, but the rules for taking a dog, cat or ferret remain simple, even if complying with them might involve a bit of hassle. These animals can travel with you if:

  • You’ve had them micro-chipped (in line with the technical provisions of Annex II of the EU Regulation on the movement of pets) or they have a clearly readable tattoo if applied before 3 July 2011
  • They’ve been vaccinated against rabies
  • They’ve, in the case of a dog, had treatment against the tapeworm Echinococcus multilocularis, where your destination country is free from it (Northern Ireland, Norway, Finland, Ireland and Malta)
  • Your pet has a valid European pet passport if they’re travelling from Northern Ireland or an EU country to another EU country or an EU animal health certificate if travelling from a non-EU country.

It’s important to be aware that the European pet passports are only for dogs, cats and ferrets. In the case of birds, aquatic animals, rabbits, reptiles, rodents or rabbits, you must check the national rules of your destination country, or speak to someone at an embassy or consulate, to find out how to comply.


Life in COVID-19 and the Brexit world

Of course, COVID-19 has thrown a spanner in the works of a process that was already complex enough as it is. The EU and the UK are still in negotiations over some aspects of the future relationship between Britain and Europe and how they’ll affect citizens. It could be some time before the two parties establish a ‘new normal’ regarding the relationship between them.

In the meantime, we suggest speaking to an embassy or consulate when making plans to move. They can advise you reliably on what you must do to comply and can also inform you of useful resources or contact people. If you know anyone who has already moved abroad to an EU country, chat to them as well about their experiences. They may be able to point you in the right direction. Be sure to verify any information they provide, however, before taking action regarding your move.