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Removal goods & taxes

12 Jun 2009

Within the EU, there is free movement of goods. If you are moving to the Netherlands from outside the EU, you will also generally be allowed to import your personal goods without paying taxes. It is however good to know a thing or two about this subject, as some restrictions may apply.

Moving from a non-EU country
Moving from an EU country
Alcohol and tobacco
More information

The general rule is that you have to pay taxes when importing goods, even personal ones, into the Netherlands. You also have to pay fees for registering your car or motorcycle after import. This may involve import duties, VAT*, excise duty or Private Motor Vehicle and Motorcycle Tax (in Dutch: Belasting van personenauto’s en motorrijwielen, abbreviated with BPM).

However, if you are moving house, this is not always the case. You may bring in your goods exempt from taxation if you satisfy a number of conditions.

You often have to make arrangements in your country of origin as well. This site only contains information about the import into the Netherlands. We recommend that you ask the authorities in your country of origin about this well in advance. This way you will allow yourself plenty of time to prepare. Try starting at your country of origin's national customs website.

Moving from a non-EU country to the Netherlands

You may obtain a tax exemption for your personal goods. To do this you must apply to Dutch Customs for an exemption permit. The conditions for this are:

  • You lived in a non-EU country for at least 12 months. This country was also your main residence (meaning you stayed there at least 185 days of the year).
  • When moving from this residence to the Netherlands, you are only bringing in personal effects. At your new residence, you will again use these goods for personal purposes.
  • You have owned and used these personal effects in the non-EU country for at least six months. 
  • The exemption does not apply to: alcohol and tobacco products, commercial vehicles, and articles used for professional purposes.

You are not allowed to sell, rent out, lend or pledge goods imported under this exemption for 12 months following their import. If you want to do so anyway, you must first report this to the customs office, where a decision will be made on whether or not to levy tax.

You will be expected to have documentation that you satisfy these conditions, such as sales receipts and/or an employer’s statement.

If you plan to bring in your car or motorcycle, the Dutch customs website provides complete details for normal tax related costs (the Netherlands taxes all private motor transport), whether you will also have to pay VAT, and if so, how to calculate how much. Read more on bringing your car or motorcycle.

Moving from an EU country to the Netherlands

Within the EU there is free movement of goods. You may therefore import personal goods into the Netherlands without having to pay tax or apply for a license when moving from an EU Member country. However, certain specific rules may still apply to some categories of goods. The rules for bringing pets, protected animal and plant species, counterfeit articles, weapons and ammunition, drugs and medicines, food products, art and antiques are the same as when moving from a non-EU country. Contact Dutch customs (see below) for questions about these cases.

Also, if you want to bring your car or motorcycle you will need a license if you want to obtain an exemption from BPM and turnover tax (VAT). Again, here the conditions are the same as when you move from a non-EU country. Read more on bringing your car or motorcycle.

Alcohol and tobacco

Alcoholic beverages and tobacco products can be part of your personal goods, provided they are intended for personal use. You may bring in the following quantities of excise goods for personal use:

  • 110 litres of beer
  • 90 litres of wine
  • 20 litres of fortified wine (sherry or port)
  • 10 litres of spirits
  • 800 cigarettes
  • 400 cigars
  • 1 kilo of tobacco

If you want to bring along more excise goods, you will have to file a declaration with Customs and pay tax. You are not required to file a declaration if you can demonstrate that the excess is also for personal use.

More information

Dutch Customs website
The website has an excellent FAQ list.

NIFA (Netherlands Foreign Investment Agency)
This website has an impressive list of helpful links.

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