Moving to Finland from outside the EU customs and tax territory
Permanent residence outside the EU for at least 12 months
When you move to Finland from outside the EU customs territory, you must clear your removal goods through Customs.
As a rule, you can bring your removal goods to Finland free of customs duty and value added tax, given that your permanent place of residence has been outside the EU for a continuous period of at least 12 months, and you have owned and used your removal goods for at least six months. Your removal goods must be cleared through Customs when they arrive in Finland.
Prerequisites for exemption from customs duty and tax
Exemption from customs duty and tax applies to your personal property. You can bring your personal property to Finland free of customs duty and tax from outside the EU when all of these prerequisites are met:
- Your permanent place of residence has been outside the EU customs territory for an uninterrupted period of at least 12 months.
- You have held your personal property in your permanent place of residence outside the EU customs and tax territory for at least six months prior to your departure to Finland. In addition, durable consumer goods such as your vehicle, computer, television and furniture have in your use, or in the use of your household, for at least six months in your previous place of permanent residence. The required use of six months does not apply to consumer goods of small value.
- Your personal property is intended to be used in the same way in your permanent residence in Finland as it was used in your previous place of residence.
- Exemption from customs duty and tax is granted only for removal goods that are cleared through Customs within 12 months of the removal date. In special cases, you can apply for an exception to the above-mentioned time limit of one year.
Based on proof presented at the time of customs clearance, Customs will assess if the prerequisites for exemption from customs duty and tax are met. Customs does not give advance rulings on customs duty exemptions for removal goods.
Customs may for special reasons grant exceptions to time limits. Such permits must be applied for in advance in writing. In situations open to interpretation, you should contact the Customs Information Service well in advance prior to bringing your removal goods to Finland.
You can apply for a written advance ruling on VAT payable on import.
Calculation of time limits
You should ensure that all necessary time limits are complied with so that your removal goods can be exempt from customs duty and tax.
For example: The time limit of one year is met when the permanent place of residence of the person moving to Finland has been outside the EU customs territory continuously between 1 January 2020 and 31 December 2020. Travel times are not included in this period.
Likewise, the time limit of six months is met when the goods have been in the possession of the person moving to Finland, and when durable consumer goods have been used by that person at a permanent place of residence outside the EU customs territory between 1 January 2020 and 30 June 2020.
Removal goods must be cleared through Customs
Once the goods arrive in Finland, a customs declaration on removal goods and vehicles imported as removal goods must be lodged. You can clear your removal goods personally through Customs or use a representative, usually a forwarding agency. You can bring goods to Finland in several consignments within 12 months of your move.
Read more: How to declare removal goods?
Permanent residence outside the EU for less than 12 months
When you move to Finland from outside the EU customs and tax territory, you must clear your removal goods through Customs. You can clear your removal goods personally through Customs or use a representative, usually a forwarding agency. You should clear your goods at the customs office in Finland in the area where your removal goods will arrive.
Goods which you have bought in Finland as subject to VAT and taken with you upon moving to a location outside the EU customs and tax territory can be processed by Customs as “return goods”, meaning that customs duty and import VAT are not levied on them. The goods have to be brought back to Finland within three years of the export. An export declaration must also exist for the time when the goods were taken from Finland.
However, you can bring other removal goods you have purchased outside the EU customs and tax territory as exempt from customs duty and tax only when you have resided outside the said territory permanently and for a continuous period of 12 months. It is required that you have possessed the goods for the period of 12 months, and used them for at least six months. It is also required that the goods are to be used in the same way in Finland as they were used in your previous permanent place of residence.
If you have intended to reside outside the EU customs and tax territory for a minimum continuous period of 12 months, but your move to Finland is to happen earlier than originally intended due to unforeseen reasons beyond your control, you can obtain special authorisation from the Customs Authorisation Centre for importing your removal goods as exempt from customs duty and value added tax. You must apply for the authorisation in writing and present it when clearing your goods through Customs.
What do I need for clearing my removal goods through Customs?
- Customs declaration
- Form 348e (information on return goods)
- A general list of the removal goods (for example 20 kg of clothes, one bed, tableware etc.)
- An account concerning the export declaration (usually a certification of exit related to the export declaration lodged for the removal goods).
Customs may also request you to provide other documents or information.
Goods purchased outside the EU customs and tax territory and their customs clearance
If you have resided permanently outside the EU customs and tax territory for less than 12 months, and you have purchased durable consumer goods such as furniture, a TV set or a bicycle there, you are not entitled to exemption from customs duty and tax for such items either as removal goods or return goods.
Goods of this kind that have been purchased abroad are cleared through Customs in the normal way and are subject to tax. In connection with import, Customs collects import duties according to the commodity codes of the goods. This usually means the collection of customs duties and value added tax. Make sure to keep the receipts of the purchases.
A person moving to Finland is however entitled to tax-exempt import of passenger goods.
Goods purchased abroad, such as a bicycle or a TV set, may be used items at the time of their import. When defining the customs value of such items, a deduction can be made to the original trade price of an item based on the extent of its use between the time of purchase and the time of customs clearance. A deduction can be made for example with a view to the item’s remaining time of use. As regards deductions, each case is always weighed individually, and documents are always required as proof of the given circumstances.
Read more: How to declare removal goods?
A person transferring his permanent place of residence to Finland can be granted exemption from import duties and taxes if his permanent place of residence has been outside the EU customs territory for a minimum uninterrupted period of 12 months. When a person travels for example by boat outside the EU customs and tax territory, it does not mean that their permanent place of residence is located there.
In justified special cases, Customs may, upon application, grant exemption from customs duties if the time limit of 12 months is not met, even when the intention of the person moving to Finland has been to live inside the EU customs and tax territory, but outside the EU tax territory, for at least 12 months. The authorisation has to be presented in connection with the customs clearance of removal goods.
A person whose permanent place of residence is outside the customs and tax territory of the EU but who is in Finland for the purpose of studying or for a holiday is not considered a person moving to Finland in this context.
The following is regarded as personal property:
- household effects
- bicycles and motorcycles, motor vehicles and trailers meant for private use, caravans, leisure boats and private aircraft
- household provisions appropriate to normal requirements
- household pets and saddle horses, as well as
- portable instruments required by the person concerned for the practice of the applied or liberal arts.
For removal goods to be exempt from tax, the person moving must start residing in Finland permanently.
Goods sent to a holiday home or a secondary home in Finland are not exempt from tax if the person moving does not set up permanent residence in Finland. Customs duties and import taxes accordant with the commodity codes must be paid for such goods.
You can apply for special authorisation concerning your move and your goods from the Customs Authorisation Centre if, for unforeseeable reasons beyond your control, your move is to take place earlier than originally intended. If Customs has granted you special authorisation, you need to present it to Customs upon the customs clearance of your goods in order to qualify for exemption from customs duty and tax.
You can also apply for special authorisation in the following circumstances:
- The removal goods have in been in the possession and use of the person moving for less than six months
- The requirements on permanent residence and the possession and use of the removal goods are met, but the removal goods have not been brought to Finland within 12 months of the move.
Read more about applying for special authorisation.
Removal goods brought to Finland as exempt from customs duty and tax cannot be handed over to another party before at least 12 months have passed from their clearance through Customs. During that time, removal goods cannot be for example sold, lent, given as security, hired out or given as presents to another party.
If the goods are lent, given as security, hired out or otherwise transferred before the time limit of 12 months has expired, customs duty and value added tax are collected. This concerns e.g. the transfer of a vehicle that has been in a road accident to an insurance company.
If goods that have been brought to Finland as exempt from customs duty and tax are transferred in less than 12 months of their import, you are obliged to pay any possible customs duties and import VAT on the goods. Contact the Customs Information Service regarding payment of the import duties and taxes.
Please note that Customs does not grant exceptions to prohibitions of transfer.
The following items are not exempt from customs duty and tax as removal goods:
- Alcohol products
- Tobacco and tobacco products
- Commercial means of transport
- Objects meant for professional use other than tools required for the practice of technical or free professions.
If your removal goods contain these products, they must be cleared through Customs, and any possible customs duties and import taxes collected based on their commodity codes must be paid.