Importation of goods for charitable and humanitarian organisations
Charitable and humanitarian organisations can import certain goods from outside the European Union (EU) without payment of Customs Duty and Value-Added Tax (VAT).
The goods may include the following:
- Basic necessities for people in need, for example, food, medicine, clothing and bedclothes. In order to qualify for relief from VAT, the goods must be supplied free of charge.
- Items sent free of charge by a person or an organisation established outside the EU. These goods must be used for fund-raising at occasional charity events for the benefit of people who are in need.
- Equipment and office materials sent free of charge by a person or an organisation established outside the EU. These goods must be used solely to meet the operating needs or to carry out the aims of the organisation or charity.
There is no relief allowed on alcohol and tobacco products or on motor vehicles, other than ambulances.
You may not transfer, lend or hire out these goods unless you notify Revenue and pay the import duties. However, you may lend or hire the goods to organisations that would qualify for the relief. You must tell Revenue before any transfer takes place.
Procedure at importation
If you import basic necessities for people in need, you will need a declaration by the importer. This declaration should confirm that the goods are for distribution free of charge to people in need.
If you import:
- goods for fund-raising at occasional charity events for the benefit of people in need
- equipment or office materials for use by your charity or organisation
you will need a letter from the sender confirming that the goods are sent free of charge with no commercial intent and one of the following, as appropriate:
- a declaration by the importer stating that the goods are for fund-raising at occasional charity events for the benefit of people in need
- a declaration by the importer stating that the goods are to be used to meet their operating needs or to carry out their charitable aims.
Revenue may ask for the documents described above to support your claim for relief.
The sender of the goods should:
- provide information about the goods to the postal service or courier that is handling the parcel. This information about the goods should include the following:
- an accurate description
- a commodity code
- the value.
- mark the parcel 'Goods for charitable purposes: exemption from import charges claimed'.
The courier or postal service handling the package can use this information to complete an electronic customs declaration by using Revenue's Automated Import System (AIS).
On this customs declaration they should:
- declare the goods as 'goods for charitable purposes' in D/E/2/3
- enter code C20 in D/E 1/11.
Goods imported for persons fleeing the war in Ukraine
You may import goods free from the payment of import duties and VAT to be distributed to persons fleeing the war in Ukraine. These goods must be distributed, or made available, free of charge. You can find more information in ‘Further guidance’.
This relief ceased on 31 December 2022.
If you require more information, please contact the Authorisations and Reliefs Unit.