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Home » Your Ultimate Guide To International Moving from the USA to Europe » Moving to the UK? Here is All You Need To Know

Moving to the UK? Here is All You Need To Know

Published on Jul 07, 2021 by Kfir Cohen

Ever since the decision of the United Kingdom to leave the European Union, both have been in a state of constant uncertainty. So much is ambiguous about what will happen in the next few years, including immigration rules. For these, we do not foresee significant changes to the current policy. However, citizens of other EU nations will likely see significant changes. In any case, it is highly recommended that anyone who is not a citizen of the UK recheck current rules with an official source. If you plan to move to the UK and are confused about all the changes, we will break it down for you.


What’s on this page?

01 | International Moving from USA to UK
02 | International Household Moving to the UK
03 | International Car Shipping to the UK
04 | British Customs and Regulations
05 | Moving to the UK Checklist
06 | Shipping Options
07 | FAQ


International Household Moving to the UK

When shipping household goods from the USA to the UK, you need to consider what to take and leave in the United States. In general, most UK dwellings will be smaller than their American counterparts. If you already know where you will be living, measure items and make sure they fit into where you want them. If you don’t yet have the exact location for your relocation, we suggest taking your most essential items with you.

Beds and mattresses made in the United States are considered “superior quality.” You will want to bring yours with you, but watch out for terminology. What they call a “king” in the UK is equivalent to the US size of “queen.” Beds called “king” in the United States will not fit into every UK bedroom; if you don’t know that you are moving to a dwelling that will accommodate them, do not bring beds larger than US “queen” size. As the beds are of slightly different shape, send along a few extra sets of sheets in your shipment.

American “white appliances” like washing machines and dryers won’t work in the UK. So they should be left in the United States. A laundry machine might be the one exception, but you will need to get a special one that will work in the UK. But like with the beds, triple-check your space. In smaller UK dwellings, laundry machines are common kitchen appliances.

You can take most of your electronics with you. Keep in mind that the UK has a unique shaped wall plug. You can quickly get adapters or cords that plug right into AC adapters from sites like Amazon or Aliexpress. Computers, monitors, gaming consoles, phones, and cell phones should all work with simple adapters. Your relocation specialist will be able to help you check which devices will work.


International Car Shipping to the UK

Cars can be shipped to the UK when you relocate, and in general, import duties are not charged, but other taxes might apply. Critically, any motor vehicle will have to meet UK standards. For cars, this is not easy, as they drive on the left and have the steering column on the right, and special permissions are necessary. So again, you will have to consult the UK Vehicle Certification Agency.

 Motorcycles can be imported but will need to go through the same process. Your car must be at least six months old and no older than ten years and registered to you upon import to the UK. Newer vehicles are subject to 20% VAT. You will also need to prove that you have not been living in the UK or other EU countries for the past 12 months, or you will pay the VAT and possibly additional taxes.

The vehicle’s title and registration should feature the name of the person importing the car. We will ask for these before picking up your vehicle, but you will also need the documents mentioned above. All of this is true for motorcycles as well. So if you own a bike, bring it with you.

The UK does not state anything specific about boats, and they are treated like any other personal goods. Please note that most UK roads are narrower than American roads, and trailer width might represent a problem. Measure, check and don’t assume. You don’t want to go to the cost and trouble only to find you can’t move your boat. But if you can, it is well worth it.


British Customs and Regulations

The UK is no longer a member of the European Union since the 1st of January 2021. This website provides the current official policies of Her Majesty’s Revenue & Customs (UK customs authority). 

While moving from the USA to the UK, usually there are no problems with importing used goods to the UK but bear in mind what we wrote above. You should only ship things that belong to you and your family. New goods imported with your shipment will be taxed at the standard 20% VAT rate. Do not send alcohol in your shipment.

A thorough inventory of your shipment contents must be prepared and should be as accurate as possible. When you engage the professional services of SDC International Shipping for packing or loading, we will make this list for you if you pack yourself to make sure to make a detailed list. This list will need to be appended to your customs registration form. It is also critical for your shipment insurance (you won’t purchase damage insurance if you pack yourself).

If you are sending any “new” wood (for instance, the wood used in pallets, crating, etc., instead of furniture), these will need to be declared before shipment. They will also need to conform to UK and EU safety and health regulations. SDC International Shipping professional packing service uses only packaging materials that are suitable for international shipments. If you make your pallets, they typically will have to be disassembled and only cause more handling charges; let us take care of it.

As the UK is still in the EU, you will need to obtain an EORI number (Economic Operators Registration and Identification) if your shipments include commercial goods. This number should be valid throughout the rest of the European Union, but it should be requested from the UK if that is where your shipment is going.


Useful information before international moving to UK from the USA

What is the Required Documentation when international moving to the U.K?

Passport, work visa or work certificate to all customs appointments. You’ll also need to present full, detailed inventory lists.

What are the Restricted and Prohibited Items?

Drugs – Offensive weapons
Self-defense sprays
Endangered animal and plant species
Rough diamonds
Indecent and obscene materials
Personal imports of meat and dairy products from most non-EU countries, like the United States.

Do I need to get vehicle approval in the U.K before moving?

Yes, you will need to get approval (safety and environmental). You will also need to Register and tax the vehicle with DVLA. Don’t forget to Tell HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) that the vehicle has arrived in the UK within 14 days of its arrival.

What is the Required Documentation when International moving to the U.K?

Passport, work visa or work certificate to all customs appointments. You’ll also need to present full, detailed inventory lists.

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