How to import household goods and furniture into the UK?


Import regulations

Import regulations vary depending upon whether the country you are importing from is within the E.U. or not:

  • Imports from E.U. countries: Most goods can be bought from other EU countries without any restrictions. However, excise duty and VAT may still apply.
  • Imports from countries outside the E.U: The majority of shipments will have to comply with customs tariffs that are common to the UK and import licensing.


Import Licensing


Many products are subject to import restrictions. These products are required to be supported by:

  • DocumentationCertificates
  • Product-specific licenses


Other regulations, which could be imposed include:

  • Unplanned restrictions in quantity
  • Anti-dumping duties


However, these you can identify which of the above applies to your product with the help of your UK tariff.  Other uses include classifying goods.


Please note: Some goods require a specific license, which needs to be issued by an expert authority. Otherwise they may be prohibited.


When importing mattresses and upholstered furniture to the UK they must comply with 1988 “Furniture and Furnishing (fire) (safety)” regulations. All imported furniture must have both the specified permanent labels intact, as well as written proof of compliance. 


How does the importing of furniture and household goods into the UK work?


Cargocost makes it very simple to quote, book, ship and deliver shipments.


Request a quotation, giving specific details of your goods


The quotation is then converted into a booking  once you are happy


Pay deposit (where required) or set up letter of credit


Your furniture and household goods are despatched


Receive invoice


Pay balance of invoice


Receive original documents


Container arrives at agreed UK port


Pay any necessary freight costs and VAT


Your furniture and household goods can then be delivered to your home


How long does it take to import furniture and household goods into the UK?

Transit times are dependent on where you are shipping the goods from.



How will my shipment be transported into the UK?



       holds approx 28m³


       holds approx 60m³

40’ high cube

       holds approx 67m³

Furniture is shipped in containers; the containers come in 3 sizes.

Though containers are available in 3 sizes, it is far more economical to use the 40’ containers as shipping can account for a large proportion of the cost price of bulky furniture items. The shipping cost of a 40’ container works out to be around 40% more than a 20’ container.


Can you arrange delivery to my premises?

Yes, Cargocost can arrange delivery of your household goods and furniture to your home. We will contact you when your container is due in and will then require the original shipping documents. Once the container arrives at the docks you generally have one week to arrange receipt of your container. Demurrage charges will be incurred if the container is not accepted in this time frame.

The container will then be delivered to you at a time convenient to both parties.  We advise having bolt cutters and lots of assistance to unload, as unloading must be completed in approximately 4 hours.


Will my household goods and furniture get through customs?

All shipments are subject to inspection. Used household goods and personal effects are tax and duty free including clothing, cosmetics, furniture, portable tools of trade, pets and other household goods and personal effects provided:

  1. You are moving or returning to the EC (European Community) after having lived outside the EC for at least 12 continuous months.
  2. The goods have been in the client’s possession and use outside of the EC for at least 6 months prior to importation.

Your household goods and furniture may be imported up to 6 months in advance of the transfer of residence and no later than 12 months after the your arrival. The goods must be kept for personal use and not be sold, lent, hired out or otherwise disposed of in the EC within 12 months of importation.

Find out more about customs clearance


 Do you want to import household goods and furniture into the UK?

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Useful links:


Any product on the European Union market that is likely to be used by consumers needs to meet general safety requirements. In the case of furniture:

  • Electrical furnishings: All businesses must comply with WEEE (Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment) This ensures that the business is responsible for collection, treatment and green-disposal of products. Goods should therefore be marked accordingly. There are also restrictions in place on certain hazardous substances used in the manufacture of electrical equipment.
  • Fire hazard: If your furniture is potentially a fire risk then you must ensure it meets the product appropriate legislation. These goods can either be marked by Kite or CE to reassure consumers.
  • Wooden furniture: When importing wood based products the shipment must come with a phytosanitary certificate to prove that the wood has been effectively treated to prevent disease and pest infestation.
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