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How to Fill Out Customs Forms

Owain Banfield
Written by Owain Banfield
15th February 2018

Looking for International Removals but feeling daunted by the prospect of a mountain of customs forms? Have no fear, Compare My Move go through everything you need to know about filling out custom forms to your new destination abroad.

Moving abroad can be a mammoth task. Luckily there are removals businesses that are specifically created to help you complete these types of move. However, in most cases when you work with these removals businesses you will still need to find the correct customs forms for the country you are moving to and fill them out so that your belongings can pass through the checks easily.

Admittedly, these are not always the easiest forms to fill out. We work through key points including what a customs form is and why you need it, how you should fill it out, what information you will need to provide, any special considerations and finally give some details on popular destinations and the forms and documents you will need to provide to pass customs smoothly.

This article will cover the following points

What is a Customs Form? How Do you Fill Out a Customs Form? Where Can I Find Customs Forms? What Information is Needed for a Customs Form? Special Permissions on Customs Forms Customs Requirements by Country Compare My Move Abroad

What is a Customs Form?

Quite simply, a customs form is a form that needs to be filled out in order for your belongings to pass through customs seamlessly at their new destination.

Each form varies in their content based on the country you are moving to and the particular concerns and levels of security those countries have. However, the key element of a customs form are the details of the items that make up your belongings.

This allows the country to note exactly what is coming into the country with you as well as police any banned items from entering the country. It also allows them to apply any taxes which are relevant to the items you are bringing in and make sure that the items you are bringing are for personal use and not to sell on at a profit.   

How Do you Fill Out a Customs Form?

As we have previously discussed, customs forms vary widely depending on the country to which you are moving to. When you fill out a customs form you need to understand exactly what it needs to contain and make sure that the right information is included.

One point worth mentioning is that the content for the form must be clear and easy to read. If customs officers are unable to understand your form, believe key information is missing or that items within your belongings are not actually included within the form then this may cause major issues. These issues could result in your belongings being thoroughly searched, delaying the time it takes to get them processed or it could even result in them not being allowed in the country and sent back to where they came from.

Where Can I Find Customs Forms?

Many customs forms can be found online on their respective government website. They will usually need printing out as most will require a signature. If you are working with an international removals company, it is likely that they will assign you a Move Manager that will be able to help you understand exactly how to fill out the form for the country you are moving to.

In many scenarios where you are moving to a country that speaks a foreign language, you may need to work with a translator to understand exactly what is being asked of you. Although again, in many cases your international removals company should be able to help with this by providing either a translated form or guidance on what information the form should include.

What Information is Needed for a Customs Form?

The type of information that you will need to provide on a customs form depends on the country you are moving to. Every form will require you to list the items within your belongings, although the level of detail may vary between country. For example, some countries will simply ask for the name of the items, whereas others will need further details such as the value of the items, as well as the recipes and invoices.

It is also likely that you will need to provide some proof that you are both allowed to travel to the country and that you intend on staying there. This may include copies of a valid passport as well as documents such as a certificate of residence, the deeds to your new property or a signed rental agreement. In cases where you are moving to work, you may also need to provide information on your agreed employment.

Special Permissions on Customs Forms

All countries you will move to will have a list of banned items that you are not allowed to bring into the country. In some cases, there are items that can be brought but only under special circumstance where special permission has been sought.

For example, in South Africa you will need special permission to bring in items such as firearms, plants, seeds, bulbs and liquor. This is mainly due to the fact that extra tax is usually needed to be paid on these items and therefore need to highlighted for these purposes. Similarly, in some countries you will need to provide details of high value items such as antiques and collectables as they are also often subject to higher taxes than other more basic items.

Your international removals company will be able to help you understand exactly which items need to gain special permission when moving to your new home country. Usually this will involve filling out a specific form for these items that would be included in the customs submission for your overall belongings.

Customs Requirements by Country

Here's a rundown for the customs requirements for the top Compare My Move destinations abroad.

CountryCustoms Requirements

Spain

  • Passport
  • NIE (obtained from Spanish police)
  • Residence certificate
  • Letter from employer confirming employment (if you are not retiring)
  • Application for duty free import
  • Rental contract or deeds to home in Spain
  • A full inventory of goods (written in Spanish)

France

  • Passport
  • Visa, Residence and Work Permit
  • Certificate of Change of Residence (obtained from French Consulate)
  • Attestation de non-cession (stating you have lived abroad for at least one year, have owned items for more than six months and will not sell items for 12 months)
  • Certificate of Residence or rental agreement
  • Full inventory (including value of items, in French)
  • List of electrical items (separate)
  • Address of new residence

Germany

  • Valid passport
  • Copy of visa/work permit
  • Statement of transfer from employer
  • Residence Visa or Residence Permit
  • Full inventory (valued, in English or German)
  • Sign declaration that imported are owner’s personal belongings
  • Declaration that no taxable high value goods such as alcohol, coffee, tea, guns or tobacco are in the shipment
  • Certificate of registration with German police
  • Certificate of registration from local registration office
  • German Customs Form 0350 (x3) stating goods will not be sold for 12 months
  • Insurance certificate

Italy

  • Valid passport
  • Condular declaration (issued by the nearest Italian consulate)
  • Photocopy of Italian fiscal code
  • ‘Usmaf’ - declaration related to the anti-mould products
  • ‘Dichiarazione di libera importazione’ – declaration to confirm that imported good are not forbidden
  • Autocertificazione – declaration of transfer of resident to Italy

USA

  • Customs Form (CF6059B)
  • Declaration for Free Entry of Unaccompanied Articles (CF3299)

Australia

  • Australia Customs Declaration (B534e)
  • Full inventory
  • Bill of Lading or Air Way Bill
  • Delivery order
  • Statutory declaration (if required)
  • Any valid offshore treatment certificates

South Africa

  • Customs Form DA 302 and P.1.160
  • Valid passport
  • Full inventory
  • Permanent residence documents/ Temporary Residence Permit and Work Permit
  • Affidavit (stating reason for arrival in South Africa)

New Zealand

  • NZCS 218: Unaccompanied Personal Baggage Declaration
  • Valid passport
  • Full inventory of items
  • Bill of Lading, Airway Bill or Arrival Advice
  • Clearance from MPI

Compare My Move Abroad

We hope that this guide has thoroughly prepared you for what to expect when it comes to filling out your customs forms. Using this information and working alongside your international removals company will make the potentially complex process of getting your belongings through customs a lot easier. Check out the rest of our international guides for more tips and tricks.

And if you're looking for an International removals specialist to help you through the complexities of your move abroad, you can use Compare My Move to get connected with up to 6 international removal companies to save up to 70% on your removal costs.