Frequently asked questions on customs exemption for personal belongings
If you are moving home to or from Sweden and would like relief from customs duty and tax on personal property (belongings), here are the answers to the most frequently asked questions. For example, if you want to bring a car into Sweden, there may be special rules that you need to be aware of.
Do I have to be a registered resident of Sweden to be exempt from paying duty on personal belongings?
No, there are other ways to prove that you are moving back to your normal residence other than through the population register.
When am I considered to move according to the regulations on personal belongings?
You are considered to move or return on the day you arrive to Sweden for the purpose of living here. In order to be exempt from duty, you must have the intention to live in Sweden for at least one year.
My partner and I have spent 13 months in the USA. My partner and one of our children is about to return earlier than the rest of the family. Will my partner be exempt from duty on personal belongings? Are they considered an immigrant or a returnee?
If you and your family have been living and worked permanently in a non-EU country, such as the USA, for at least 12 months, your partner and your children are considered immigrants, as will you and the rest of the family if you move back later on.
How does it work if I use an agent to help me with my customs clearance?
In that case, the agent is handling the clearance, on condition that you have provided your agent with a declaration for customs exemption along with the necessary supporting documents.
Who will inform me when my personal belongings have arrived?
When your belongings arrive in Sweden, they are placed in a warehouse. The warehouse owner or the transporter will contact you.
I am living outside of the EU and will be studying in Sweden for three years. What kind of belongings and furniture am I allowed to bring without paying extra?
You are not required to pay customs duty, VAT or other taxes for items intended for personal use during your studies. Items referred to here include furniture (for a student room), computer, clothes, towels and bed linen.
When you arrive at the border, you need to apply for customs exemption in your import declaration. You must provide a written statement regarding your studies and a list of the items for which you are applying for customs exemption. You may also need to prove that you are registered for full-time studies at a school or a university.
Can I be exempt from paying customs duty if I have been studying outside of the EU?
Studies do not automatically exempt you from paying duty. You must prove that you have had your normal residence (“centre of interest”) in the country for at least 12 months. You need to verify this, for example using a residence permit from the country, proof of registration with a local authority (municipality) or similar.
Am I allowed to interrupt my stay abroad?
As a returnee, you may only interrupt it for up to 72 days in a year. If you interrupt your residence abroad by visiting other countries for longer than 72 days in total, you may not count this time towards the total length of your residence in a non-EU country.
As an immigrant, there is no time restriction for short interruptions; however, you are required to be able to demonstrate that you have had your place of residence in a third country for an continuous 1-year period.
Can I count the time it takes me to drive my car home as part of the period of use?
If you are returning to Sweden, you may count the time it takes to drive the vehicle back as part of the period of use, provided that you are taking a normal route back to Sweden and that the transport does not take an abnormally long time.
If you are immigrating, you may not count the time of transport as part of the period of use.
How many cars am I allowed to bring in as personal belongings?
If you are immigrating, there is no limit on the number of cars you are allowed to bring for private use. If you are applying for customs exemption for personal belongings for more than one car, Swedish Customs will make an assessment to ensure that you will not be using the cars commercially.
If you are a returnee, you may bring one car per person in the household who is able to use the car.
Can I bring in a leased car as a personal belonging?
Yes, if you are immigrating, you can do so under certain circumstances. You must have entered the contract in your own name; we will not grant customs exemption for a car that is leased by your employer or anyone else, even if it is intended for your private use. The contract must specify that you are using the car privately for a longer period of time. You need to prove this with a contract that is valid for at least the period that you, or a member of your household at your place of residence in a third country, are obligated to have owned and used it, i.e. six months.
As a returnee, you may be exempt from paying customs duty for a leased car. However, it must be clearly stated in the contract that the leaser of the car is intended to become its owner at the end of the lease agreement.
What do I do if my belongings arrive ahead of my car?
If the car arrives before your belongings, we consider it as your belongings arriving in separate shipments. You declare the shipments separately, meaning that you fill out an import declaration, an application for customs exemption and produce the supporting documents for each shipment separately.
My partner and I have been abroad together. I will be returning before my partner. Can I clear our car through customs and apply for duty relief even if it is registered to my partner?
Yes, provided that you meet the requirements for customs exemption for returnees, and unless the car is your partner’s separate property. It is, for example, possible for a prenuptial agreement to state that a car constitutes the separate property of one party.
If you are immigrating, the car must have belonged to you, i.e. the car must have been disposed of and used by you, or a member of your household at your place of residence in a third country where you have lived for at least six months.
Can I be exempt from customs duty for personal belongings that I send before I move?
You can only be exempt from duty in advance if you are in the immigrant category. In order to qualify for customs exemption for your personal belongings, you need to:
- Certify that you intend to move permanently within six months
- provide security for customs duty, VAT and other taxes
- provide a customs declaration and the declaration for customs exemption.
You can also be exempt from paying customs duty for personal belongings sent ahead if you are forced by professional commitments to leave your normal residence outside of the EU without moving directly to Sweden or another EU country. In that case, you undertake to move to Sweden within a certain period, which is specified considering the circumstances. Swedish Customs makes an assessment on whether you need to provide security.
As a returnee, you cannot be exempt from paying customs duty for personal belongings that you send ahead of time.
Can I be exempt from duty for personal belongings that I import after moving to Sweden?
As an immigrant, you can be exempt from duty after your move, if you import your belongings within one year from the day you relocated to Sweden.
If you are a returnee, the only time constraint when you import your belongings is that you import them in close conjunction with your move, which is normally considered within one year of relocating to Sweden.
Can I be exempt from customs duty for belongings that I will be using in another EU country?
No. You can only be exempt from customs duty for personal belongings if you move to Sweden and intend to use the items here.
If you move to another EU country via Sweden, you must therefore transit your belongings to that country and apply for customs exemption there instead.
Can I get a dispensation if I do not meet the time constraints?
The general rule is to not grant a dispensation, but you can submit a written application for us to examine on a case by case basis. Generally speaking, you must be in a situation where the circumstances have been out of your control.
What happens after I have cleared my car through customs?
In the first year of being granted duty/tax exemption for the goods, you must not in any way transfer any part of the belongings to anyone else. If, during this time, you wish to sell, lend, pledge, rent out or give away any part of the property, you must first notify Swedish Customs. This is because you will then have to pay customs duty, VAT and other taxes on the goods. There are no exemptions from this time limit.
What do I do if my vehicle is registered abroad?
You may use the vehicle for one week after clearing customs, i.e. from the day you enter Sweden with it. You must then apply for a temporary registration or have the vehicle approved in a registration inspection.
Read more about vehicle registration with the Swedish Transport Agency.
What happens if I have not filled out the declaration for customs exemption when I arrive at the border?
Then you need to do it directly at the border.
What happens if I have not filled out and provided the removal firm with the declaration for customs exemption when my container arrives at the border?
Unless we promptly receive a filled out and signed form, you will need to pay full customs duty, VAT and other taxes on the goods.
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