Returned Goods Relief (RGR)
RGR is available if you re-import goods into the UK that have previously been exported.
Conditions of the relief
The 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, and the goods cannot have been upgraded to increase their value.
All ancillary materials such as rope, wood, plastic used for the stowage and protection of the goods in question are also eligible for relief under RGR.
The goods must also:
Have been in free circulation in the UK when they were exported (unless they were originally declared to inward processing or end-use), and
Not have been exported to be repaired or processed; and
Be re-imported within 3 years of their export.
If only a proportion of the original export is returned, then subject to the conditions above, relief is available for all the goods which are returned.
If the goods were exported under Inward Processing (IP), then on re-importation any duty suspended at the time of their original importation to IP must be repaid. Also, any agricultural refunds received on export must be repaid.
The “3-year rule”
The requirement that the goods must be returned within 3 years can be waived in “exceptional circumstances”, including:
Specialised goods returning to the UK from long-term hire or loan agreements outside the UK, and
Building equipment or machinery returning to the UK after use in capital projects outside the UK, and
Exhibition goods returning after long-term display or storage outside the UK.
If asked by HMRC you must be able to produce evidence to support the claim to special circumstances, for example a signed copy of the contract of hire, lease or loan, and possibly also evidence of payment by the customer.
Special Concession for goods returned from the EU
Goods that were in the EU at the end of the transition period (after 31 December 2020) and are returned to the UK within one year (by 31 December 2021) can obtain RGR as long as you can show that the goods were in the UK sometime before 31 December 2020.
HMRC say that is an automatic waiver of the 3-year rule, so potentially it could include goods exported to the EU more than 3 years prior to 31 December 2021.