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Moving to Spain - customs and VAT rules for importing personal effects

Updated: Jan 31

Goods imported to Spain are liable to import taxes. If the goods are being imported because of personal relocation, such as taking up residency in Spain from another country, there are some exemptions. This guide gives an overview of of the customs and VAT rules for managing the removal of belongings to Spain from any other country that is outside of the European Union (EU), the European Economic Area (EEA) and Switzerland. This includes the UK.

By understanding how the process works, you can plan effectively for the move, whether you decide to do it yourself or employ a professional service.

The exemptions mainly apply to personal goods imported from the previous country of residency, such as moving house contents to your new home in Spain. You need to prove that you are changing your residency in order to benefit from the exemptions. Each case is considered individually by Spanish Customs, taking into account the particular circumstances. If you use a professional removal service, make sure they have this requirement covered in their service and they have the requisite documentation to manage the application on your behalf.

When presenting the VAT exemption and customs duty request, you need to provide a detailed list of the imported goods, with their estimated value and approximate date of purchase. You will have to request these exemptions within the first 12 months of your residency in Spain. You can also request the exemptions 6 months prior to your move if you show enough proof and a guarantee that you are moving to Spain. To confirm the date of your residency in Spain you can use your empadronamiento certificate. You may be asked for other proof that the goods are yours and the reason for the import is for personal use.

Goods that are exempt

  • Imports destined for personal use, for your family or home needs as long as it does not contribute to a business or professional activity.

  • Domestic animals and portable tools that are necessary for your profession or job (these will be considered to be for personal use).

  • Bicycles, motorcycles and cars for private use, as well as trailers, caravans and recreational boats.

Bear in mind that in order to claim any exemption, you must have lived outside the EU area for at least 12 months, the imported goods should not be new but usually at least 6 months old, including cars.

Goods that are not exempt

These include:

  • Alcohol and tobacco products (the amount that exceeds the standard import limits for personal use)

  • Comercial transport

  • Imports for professional use

General requirements

To benefit from the VAT exemption, you will need to fulfill the following requirements:

  1. Show that you lived outside Spain for at least 12 consecutive months before the date you moved. You can provide a certificate of your tax residency, formal confirmation of your address, such as in an identity document, utility bills, employment contracts or any other documentation that show you lived in another country.

  2. Show that you are taking up, or plan to take up, Spanish residency. You can provide evidence with documents such as the TIE application receipt, other change of residency documents, or a baja consular - (deregistration from your previous country of residence). School attendance or Spanish university study does not count for VAT exemption.

  3. The assets and goods you wish to import should be yours and be used by you for at least 6 months prior to your move, or otherwise be shown to meet the requirements.

Additional requirements

Possible examples include:

  1. Confirmation/proof that the imported goods are for the same use/purpose in your new residency as they had in your previous one.

  2. That the imported goods are not loaned, belong to another person, for rental or donation unless there is evidence of them being used by you for the first 12 months from their customs duty relief.

  3. To benefit from the VAT exemption, the imported goods should have been purchased in the country of origin under normal fiscal conditions without any exemption or tax relief. Consular goods are exempt from these criteria.

How to request the exemption

You can request exemptions at Customs, when entering Spain, or at the nearest Customs office to your home. You will have to specify that the reason you are requesting these exemptions is because you changed your residency from another country to Spain.

​You will be given an application form to complete. When filling in the form make sure to check the following codes and boxes:

  1. Box 33 (Código de mercancías): 9905000000 Bienes personales pertenecientes a personas físicas que trasladen su residencia (personal property that belongs to a person who is transferring residence)

  2. Box 37.1 (Régimen aduanero): 40.00 Despacho a consumo y libre práctica

  3. Box 37.2 (Código adicional): 101 Exención de IVA (VAT exemption)

  4. Box 37.2: C01 Franquicia traslado de residencia (customs duty relief due to change of residency)

  5. *Box 37.2: 9CR Solicitud de franquicia por cambio de residencia con compromiso de establecerse en el TAU en seis meses (customs duty relief due to change of residency with compromise of moving to the Union within 6 months). This code should be used only when you are declaring your goods up to 6 months before moving to Spain.


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