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Returned Goods Relief (RGR): Claw Your Money Back if You Can. A business guide

Returned Goods Relief or RGR is a popular way to claim back money spent. But make sure the conditions are met, says Arne Mielken of Customs Manager Ltd.

RGR allows businesses to pay less import duty and VAT when re-importing goods to the country or the territory it came from. This means the business can claim a relief to pay less Customs Duty and VAT if they re-import goods to that country.


Getting your dedicated Customs Manager to complete your customs declaration

You can use us to complete entries on your behalf, and we will ask you for clear written instructions for the goods that you’re claiming relief on.

Find out about our Customs Declaration Service


Unaltered State

Usually, as a condition of Returned Goods Relief (RGR), goods must be re-imported in an unaltered state, apart from any work that may have been carried out to maintain the goods in working order, the goods cannot have been upgraded to increase their value.

Free Circulation

The businesses goods must also have been in free circulation in the country or customs territory from where they were exported, unless they were originally declared to a customs procedure called inward processing or so-called "end-use".

No export for repair

The RGR goods must not have been exported to be repaired or processed, if they were but the repair or process was not carried out, relief may still be available, check with your local customs.

3 Year Rule

To benefit from relief, the returned goods must be re-imported within 3 years of their export, shorter periods apply to goods that benefitted from agricultural measures at export. ATTENTION: The requirement that the goods must be returned within 3 years can be waived by customs authorities in exceptional circumstances.

Returning only some of the goods

If only a proportion of the original export is returned, then subject to the conditions above, relief is available.

Can I claim back import VAT?

To claim relief on the import VAT, the exporter and importer must be the same person.In addition to customs requirements, when you claim VAT relief you usually must show the:

  • original export declaration with you as the exporter – if you cannot provide this the customs authorities may consider alternative evidence of export

  • re-import declaration with you as the importer.




Situations can claim RGR relief on

You can get relief on goods being imported into Country A following their export from country A.

This may include, for example (check with you local customs or let's talk details)

  • goods exported as free circulation goods benefitting from agricultural measures

  • goods exported following inward processing

  • goods imported which were previously declared to authorised use in the same country (if the goods are put to the same authorised use when imported)

  • goods temporarily exported using the Admission Temporaire (Temporary Admission) (ATA) or Carnet de Passages en Douane (CPD) carnet procedures

  • goods declared for an outward processing procedure and exported, that remain:

  • unprocessed on re-import

  • in the same state as they were when originally exported

  • returned personal effects, vehicles, sports equipment or means of transport

  • returned professional and commercial equipment that has been hired, leased or loaned outside the country,

Relief on pallets, containers and packaging

You can usually get relief on pallets, containers and packaging suitable for re-use, for example, if they are:

  • used to import goods

  • pallets and containers previously exported or used to export goods, which are re-imported

Goods imported in baggage

You usually do not need to make a formal customs declaration to claim relief on your own personal belongings re-imported in accompanied baggage if the conditions for relief are met. You must declare any other re-imported goods in your baggage, for example, commercial samples, at the red channel or redpoint when you arrive, and we may ask you to make a formal customs declaration claiming relief.

Goods imported by post from outside a country/territory

One idea is to ask the sender to write ‘Returned goods — relief claimed’ clearly on the package and its accompanying customs declaration. The declaration should then include a complete and accurate description of the goods, their quantity and value. If the business is registered for VAT, the business can quote the VAT number is quoted on the declaration (CN 22 or CN23).

Claiming relief

Businesses can usually claim relief at the time of import. If you do not do this, customs may accept a late claim and repay the appropriate charges, subject to conditions.

Businesses can claim Returned Goods Relief in the normal way, orally or by conduct (walking through the green channel). Where a business is sending your items by freight, they may claim the relief by using the relevant (customs) procedure codes in the national customs tariff.


Businesses may be asked to complete the C1314 and C&E1158 forms to support claims. Take a look:

C_E_1158 - Returned Goods Information Sheet- for RGR claims - provided by Customs Manager
Download • 105KB
C1314 Customs Form for HMRC to claim RGR Returned Goods Relief provided by Customs Manager
Download • 643KB

EU: Returned Goods Relief

Read the guidance on how to claim relief and what conditions you need to meet in each EU member state:

  • Austria

  • Belgium

  • Croatia

  • Cyprus

  • Denmark

  • Estonia

  • Finland

  • France

  • Germany

  • Ireland

  • Italy

  • Latvia

  • Lithuania

  • Luxembourg

  • Malta

  • Netherlands

  • Poland

  • Portugal

  • Romania

  • Slovakia

  • Slovenia

  • Spain

  • Sweden

EU business_ EU Returned Goods Relief - GOV.UK
Download PDF • 128KB

Proof eligibility

It is usually that businesses need to prove that the goods satisfied the conditions for acceptance as returned goods at the time of previous export from the originating country.

Alternative evidence

Customs authorities may consider alternative evidence which clearly confirms the previous export of those goods and their duty status at export (that is, goods in free circulation, products of an inward processing operation or end-use goods).

If the goods are readily identifiable and duty status is clear, they may accept one or more of the following documents as evidence:

  • a document that proves the goods were previously in that country

  • a copy of the export invoice

  • a copy of the export airway bill or bill of lading

  • a commercial certificate of shipment prepared at the time of export

  • a certificate of posting relating to the export of the goods

  • a copy of the import invoice if it clearly shows that the goods are being returned

  • a suitable statement from the manufacturer or exporter if other than yourself

  • a preferential origin form, for example, in the EU or UK, the EUR1 in certain cases

  • in the case of collectable items, catalogue information or qualified opinion from a recognised expert in the field such as National Institutes and specialist auction houses

  • record from the trader’s stock record book.

Check for alternative arrangements

A business that regularly imports returned goods and find the presentation of the evidence at the time of import is difficult, can try to make alternative arrangements. Please contact us for details.

After you’ve claimed

There are usually some important records you must keep, like

  • any customs acknowledgement letters

  • receipts

  • bills

  • invoices

  • insurance documents

It is usual to keep all records for a minimum of 4 years.

About Customs Manager Ltd.

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