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Moving to India – A List of What You Can and Cannot Take Back to India

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moving to India

Now when you have decided to move to India, the next big thing to decide on is to what you can and cannot bring back to India. These items may include your households, vehicle and other belongings. You need to be aware of rules and regulations as to what and how you can transfer your household items while moving to India.

The Indian or the foreign nationals who wish to relocate to India can transfer / import their belongings (household good) free of any import duty based on the following norms:

  • 1. The person to whom the household goods belong i.e. the owner, should have lived in the foreign country for a minimum of 2 years and must be shifting his/her residence to India. If the owner is an Indian national, in that case he shouldn’t have visited India in last 2 years for more than 180 days.
  • 2. The Foreign nationals must have any of the Work, business, resident or entry visa.
  • 3. The goods will be shipped to India within 30 days of the owner arriving in India. If there is any delay then goods can be cleared if custom department clears it.
  • 4. The owner of the goods should reach India well before the goods reach because he has to be present at custom clearance department when goods are cleared or else he might end up paying excessive charges pertaining to container detention fees.
  • 5. Earlier there used to be a norm of “compulsory one year stay in India” as to claim the transfer of residence duty benefits but now that norm is being called off. But now importers can leave the country anytime after claiming the Transfer of Residence (TR) concessions.

Moving household goods:

  • 1. Old clothes, electrical devices (small devices like mixer , iron or cooker), old books, furniture and kitchenware (all the things listed here are used) fall under duty-free imports of old, used personal goods, and household things. So, no duty on these OLD goods. The new items will charged import duty of 61.2% (in case of small appliances).
  • 2. A total of 14 major appliances (not more than 1 unit each) that you can bring back while moving to India are listed below. They are charged with 35.2% import duty and are subject to a limit of Rs.1,50,000. Which is somewhere around USD 3350. These items can be new or old (regardless of usage time). Following are the items that fall under this norm:
    i) TV
    ii) VCR / VCP
    iii) Washing Machine
    iv) Dishwasher
    v) Music System
    vi) Personal Computer
    vii) Microwave Oven
    viii) Air Conditioner
    ix) Refrigerator
    x) Deep Freezer
    xi) Video Camera
    xii) Cooking Range
    xiii) Word Processor
    xiv) Fax Machine.
  • 3. If there is more than one unit (2 AC / 2 TV etc.) of any 14 appliances listed above or the total combined or the total value of the items exceeds the limit of Rs.1,50,000 i.e. USD 3350, in that case the importer has to pay an additional duty at the rate of 61.2% for the additional units or value.
  • 4. To ensure painless and problem less clearance it is advisable that all appliances should be loaded onto one lift van. The shipper should provide the make, model no., Serial no. and quantity to the movers along with the inventory of items.
  • 5. If you are thinking of importing alcohol, wines, spirits, etc., think again. Because the import duty levied on such items is way too high. You may have to pay approx. 260% and it is advisable to consult the professional movers who can guide through the importing process and will provide specialized assistance..
  • 6. To avoid any kind of damage and theft of goods it is advisable to put shipment into lift vans and then ship.
  • 7. Beside above listed items, Indian nationals can bring any other household item by paying 61.2% custom duty. Or before import consult any specialized movers, they should be able to guide you through the importing norms on items which are not included in this list.

Moving your Vehicle :

  • 1. Indian nationals moving to India are allowed to bring only one vehicle that could be a car or a motor cycle. The vehicles above 1600 cc must be owned and used overseas by the shipper for a minimum of one year. Cars (new or second hand) below 1600 cc can be bought by the shipper before coming to India.
  • 2. Foreign nationals coming to India on an employment visa can bring one car (regardless of cc). They can import an old car to India only if they owned and used it overseas before coming to India.
  • 3. Custom duty paid on cars is appx 111% of the value assessed. The depreciations is calculated as under
    i) 16 % for1st year
    ii) 12% for 2nd year
    iii) 10% for3rd year
    iv) 8% for 4th year
    v) 8% for 5th year
    vi) 8% for 6th year
    vii) 8% for 7th year
    That adds up to a total of 70%.

Food Stuff:

  • Foreign nationals can import food items along with their other household imports duty free up to the limit of Rs. 50,000 (about USD1100). Foreign Nationals residing in India can import food items up to the value Rs.1,00,000 (USD 2220). This limit does not include alcohol / wines / spirits or any other alcoholic beverages.
  • The payment is to be made by funds available to the foreign national outside India

Import of Pets:

The import of pets in India is subject to the production of the veterinary certificate and other health documents. Only one pet ( dog, cat, parrot ) is allowed to be imported.

Restrictions – Items that are strictly not allowed to import are

  • Pornographic material
  • Obscene literature
  • Narcotics
  • Firearms
  • Ammunition and other weapons


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