Transferring your normal place of residence from a non-EU country

All goods that are taken along when transferring one’s normal place of residence to Austria or another EU country are regarded as personal property. As a rule, import taxes and duties must be paid when importing goods into the EU. However, certain goods of personal property are exempt from import taxes and duties. Exempt from taxes and duties means that you need to pay neither import duties nor value-added tax on imports when bringing personal property to Austria.

Please be aware that when first registering a motor vehicle in Austria a standard consumption tax - the NOVA (Normverbrauchsabgabe) – is due, payable at the competent (local) tax office.

Please also note the definitions referring to relocation goods.

Which goods of personal property are exempt from taxes and duties?

Only used goods are exempt from the payment of import taxes and duties. Personal property can only include used goods which the relocating persons need for their personal use (no new goods can be included).

They can comprise the following types of goods:

  • household effects (meaning personal effects, household linen, furnishings and equipment intended for the personal use of the persons concerned or for meeting their household needs)
  •  bicycles and motor cycles, private motor vehicles and their trailers, camping caravans, pleasure craft and private aeroplanes
  • household supplies (in the quantities usually kept as supplies by a family)
  •  household pets and saddle animals
  • portable instruments used for activities in the exercise of the applied or liberal arts.

They do not comprise:

  • alcoholic products, tobacco or tobacco products;
  • commercial means of transport;
  • articles for use in the exercise of a trade or profession, other than portable instruments of the applied or liberal arts.

It does not matter whether the goods in question were bought abroad with or without paying tax, or imported to the other country without paying customs duties, in order to be granted an exemption from taxes and duties in Austria. This also applies if the goods were previously exported, exempt from value-added tax, from an EU member state (but: special cases may apply).

What other requirements must be met in order to be exempt from paying taxes and duties?

  • You transfer your normal place of residence to an EU member state.
  • The personal property belongs to you.
  • You have used the personal property at your former normal place of residence for a minimum of six months before the date on which you cease to have your normal place of residence in the third country of departure.
  • You are using the personal property for the same purpose at your new normal place of residence.
  • You had your normal place of residence outside the customs territory of the European Community for a continuous period of at least 12 months.
  • Relief shall be granted only in respect of personal property entered for free circulation within 12 months from the date of establishment, by the person concerned, of his normal place of residence in the customs territory of the Community.
  • Until twelve months have elapsed from the date on which its entry for free circulation was accepted, personal property which has been admitted duty-free may not be lent, given as security, hired or transferred, whether for a consideration or free of charge, without prior notification of the competent customs office.

How do you import goods of personal property without paying taxes and duties?

What supporting documents do the customs authorities require?

For customs clearance you have to

  • either provide a completed and signed from ZBefr 2E for customs declaration. This form allows you to declare the relocation from your place of residence in a non-EU country to your new place of residence in Austria
  • or – if form ZBefr 2E does not apply to your situation – submit at your customs office an application for the issuing of a decision with grounds with the form ZBefr 2aE

Please complete the forms according to the guidance provided and add to the form ZBefr 2aE the required supporting documents as indicated in the form.

All suitable evidence can be shown as supporting documents for having established a normal place of residence in Austria, for having had a normal place of residence abroad during the preceding twelve months, as well as for compliance with the twelve-month period for customs clearance such as, in particular:

  • foreign registration and/or departure confirmations,
  • confirmation of registration in Austria,
  • employment contract and/or contract for service,
  • lease contract, and
  • registration of children at school. 

Whenever the objects cannot readily be identified as used goods, on the basis of their condition and/or appearance, the customs authorities may ask for supporting documents (e.g. invoices, delivery notes, warranty cards) indicating that the goods belonged to you, and were used by you, already before you moved to another domicile.

The following special requirements apply to motor vehicles: In order to prove ownership and prior use, documents supporting their purchase and registration abroad (purchase or leasing agreement, invoice, delivery note, motor vehicle registration certificate, other documents showing registration and/or insurance coverage) must be shown.

However, when first registering a motor vehicle in Austria a standard consumption tax - the NOVA (Normverbrauchsabgabe) – is due, payable at the competent (local) tax office.

When do you need a basic assessment notice?

You must apply to the competent customs office for relief from taxes and duties before the planned import of the goods

  • if your personal property comprises means of transport (motor cycle, private motor vehicles and their trailers, camping caravans, pleasure craft and private aeroplanes), or

  • if you had already a normal place of residence in the EU, or if you keep your place of residence outside the EU after you have established your normal place of residence in the EU (please note that if you have already established your residence in Austria before relocating and therefor have two places of residence, then you can use the form ZBefr 2E without basic assessment notice), or

  • if the personal property is to be imported to Austria before you establish your normal place of residence in the EU (please note the exception for this case).

The customs office will grant a basic assessment notice after checking whether you meet the requirements for relief from import taxes and duties.

Is it possible to import goods if the supporting documents or individual documents are missing?

If you do not have all required supporting documents with you at customs clearance, the customs authorities cannot determine whether the requirements for an exemption from taxes and duties are met in your case. However, you may nevertheless import the relocation goods if you pay the import taxes and duties on a provisional basis or provide a corresponding security. Only then may the customs authority hand over the goods. The exemption from taxes and duties will be granted at a later stage, and the paid amount of taxes and duties, or the amount of money provided as bond will be returned to you, once it has been established that you meet the requirements for an exemption.

Moreover, it is also possible to continue the transport of the relocation goods from the border to the competent customs office without paying taxes and duties, but by providing a bond. A so-called transit document will be sent along with the transport. In this case, the border customs office will affix a customs seal to the vehicle, the number of which is entered in the transit document. A vehicle must be used for the transport to which a customs seal can be affixed. International forwarding agents and car-rental companies have such vehicles in their fleets. The customs seal must not be broken in any event. Take the relocation goods in the sealed vehicle to the customs authority indicated in the transit document within the required period of time. The provided bond cannot be returned at a later date if these procedural rules are violated.

Do-it-yourself-relocation: What needs to be done at the border customs office?

If you wish to do the clearance on your own you have to apply at the customs border for customs clearance for the goods carried with you. For this purpose please contact the customs authorities at the border who will inform you about the requirements for relief from import taxes and duties.

You have to hand in the form ZBefr 2E and – if required – the accompanying documents of proof. In case a basic assessment notice is required you have to hand it in as well.

Import prohibitions and restrictions on imports

Please be aware that there are import prohibitions and restrictions on imports that might apply to your relocation goods.

Third-party liability car insurance for vehicles with foreign license plates

Third-party liability car insurance is not a statutory requirement in all countries of the world.

Foreign vehicles circulating in Austria must prove third party liability insurance cover valid for the whole EU/EEA territory. You have to

  • either carry with you a valid international insurance card (the so-called “Green Card”), which your insurance company will give you,
  • or sign a border insurance policy that is valid for one month.

If your vehicle is registered in one of the EU/EEA states, in Switzerland or in Andorra, the official license plate on the vehicle is seen as proof of insurance cover and no green card or border insurance is required.