If you are considering moving back to India or are already doing so, you should know a few things about customs rules and duty-free allowances.
As per the Baggage Rules of Indian Customs, you can bring a certain amount of personal belongings and household goods into the country without paying any duty.
You are entitled to additional allowances if you are an NRI returning to India permanently after a period of stay abroad. However, you should be careful as some of your personal belongings may be prohibited, restricted or dutiable upon bringing to India.
This article discussed everything about eligibility conditions, minimum stay abroad, and duty-free allowances during the transfer of residence to India.
- a) From three months up to six months
- b) From six months up to one year
- c) Minimum stay of one year during the preceding two years
- d) Minimum stay of two years or more
What is Transfer of Residence?
The Transfer of Residence (TR) is a facility available to eligible Indian citizens or foreign passport holders planning to transfer their residence to India after living abroad.
Transfer of Residence Benefits
Individuals who have settled abroad and plan on returning or staying in India for a prolonged period can benefit from the Transfer of Residence rules and relaxed customs regulations regarding their possessions.
Under the Transfer of Residence facility, individuals and their families are permitted to import certain household items free of duty and other listed items for a concessional duty rate.
Eligibility for Transfer of Residence
Persons who have been employed overseas for more than three months and who move to India to live are entitled to have some articles in their accompanied or unaccompanied baggage cleared under Baggage Rules, 2016.
Depending on the passenger’s minimum period of stay abroad and fulfilment of conditions, various articles are allowed free of duty up to a specified limit. Below is a summary table and more detailed explanations follow:
|Sl.||Duration of Stay Abroad||Maximum Aggregate Value|
|a)||3 to 6 months||Rs. 60,000|
|b)||6 months to 1 year||Rs. 100,000|
|c)||Minimum 1 year during the preceding two years||Rs. 200,000|
|d)||Minimum stay of two years or more||Rs. 500,000|
Note that these allowances are in addition to the regular duty-free allowances applicable to Indian Residents (check the link below).
READ: Complete Guide To Indian Customs Duty-Free Allowances
They are also subject to fulfilment of the following conditions and are only available on specific items:
a) From three months up to six months
Personal and household articles, other than those mentioned in Annexure I or Annexure II but including articles mentioned in Annexure III up to an aggregate value of Rs. 60,000.
Condition: Should be an Indian passenger.
b) From six months up to one year
Personal and household articles, other than those mentioned in Annexure I or Annexure II but including articles mentioned in Annexure III up to an aggregate value of Rs. 100,000.
Condition: Should be an Indian passenger.
c) Minimum stay of one year during the preceding two years
Personal and household articles, other than those mentioned in Annexure I or Annexure II but including articles mentioned in Annexure III up to an aggregate value of Rs. 200,000.
- Should be an Indian passenger.
- Should not have availed of this concession in the preceding 3 years.
d) Minimum stay of two years or more
Personal and household articles, other than those mentioned in Annexure I or Annexure II but including articles mentioned in Annexure III up to an aggregate value of Rs. 500,000.
- Minimum two-year stay abroad immediately preceding his arrival on TR.
- Total stay in India on short visits during the 2 preceding years should not exceed 6 months.
- Should not have availed of this concession in the preceding 3 years.
Relaxations allowed in this case:
- The Deputy Commission of Customs or Assistant Commissioner of Customs may allow a shortfall of up to 2 months in stay abroad in cases where the early return is due to terminal leave or vacation taken by the passenger or any other exceptional circumstances.
- In deserving cases, the Principal Commission of Customs or Commissioner of Customs may approve short visits of more than six months. The reason for relaxation should be recorded in writing.
Duty-Free Item Under Transfer of Residence Facility
By using the Transfer of Residence facility, a passenger can bring to India used personal and household articles (exceptions listed below).
Household articles allowed include furniture, kitchenware, small kitchen appliances, glassware, carpets, and other normal household items, as long as the passenger has used them for at least one year.
However, items listed in Annexure I and Annexure II cannot be considered household items.
If you import a new article, you will have to pay customs duty, which is about 35%. Plus, there is a 10% education cess (which makes the total duty 38.5%). If they are used household articles, you can claim standard depreciation based on how old the article is.
Items That Cannot Be Imported Duty-Free
The following items under Annexure I and Annexure II of Indian Baggage Rules cannot be imported duty-free using the Transfer of Residence facility, even if they are used household items.
- Firearms (see exception)
- Cartridges of firearms exceeding 50
- Cigarettes exceeding 100, cigars exceeding 25 or tobacco exceeding 125 gms
- Alcoholic liquor or wines over two litres
- Gold or silver, in any form other than ornaments
- Flat Panel (LCD/LED/Plasma) Television
READ: Indian Airport Customs Duty on LCD/LED Television
Some of the items in Annexure II may be eligible for concessional duty (discounted duty). Note that the reduced duty will apply only to the first unit.
- Colour Television
- Video Home Theatre System
- Dish Washer
- Domestic refrigerators (above 300 litres capacity)
- Deep Freezer
- Video camera or the combination of any such video camera with one or more of the following goods, namely:
a) Television Receiver
b) Sound recording or reproducing apparatus
c) Video reproducing apparatus
- Cinematographic films of 35 mm and above
- Gold or Silver, in any form other than ornaments
READ: Indian Airport Gold Allowance, Customs Duty and Rules
Items That Can Be Imported Duty-Free Subject To Conditions
The following items under Annexure III can be included as part of the duty-free allowance. To claim as duty-free they should have been in the passenger’s possession abroad or should be purchased from a duty-free shop. Items exceeding the total allowance value will be charged as general baggage.
- Video Cassette Recorder (VCR) or Video Cassette Player (VCP) or Video Television Receiver (VTR) or Video Cassette Disk (VCD) Player
- Digital Video Disc (DVD) player
- Music System
- Air-Conditioner (AC)
- Microwave Oven
- Word Processing Machine
- Fax Machine
- Portable Photocopying Machine
- Washing Machine
- Electrical or Liquefied Petroleum Gas Cooking Range
- Personal Computer (Desktop Computer)
- Laptop (Notebook Computer)
- Domestic Refrigerators (below 300 litres capacity)
Provisions Regarding Unaccompanied Baggage (Cargo)
Passengers may often send their household items to India as unaccompanied baggage through air, sea or land cargo.
- Only used personal articles can be imported duty-free.
- All other items will be charged Customs Duty at 38.5%.
- The Baggage Rules are also applicable to unaccompanied baggage.
The passenger must send all unaccompanied baggage which has been in his possession abroad within one month (30 days) after arriving in India. In case of delay, special approval must be obtained from the Assistant Commissioner of Customs or Deputy Commissioner of Customs.
The unaccompanied baggage may land in India up to 2 months before the passenger’s arrival or within such period, not exceeding one year, as the Assistant Commissioner of Customs or Deputy Commissioner of Customs may allow (due to valid reasons).
Documents Required for Sending Cargo
The following documents may be required if you are sending unaccompanied baggage as cargo:
- Original passport for Customs clearance
- Valid visa or PIO/OCI card for non-Indian Passport
- Address proof in India if you are opting for door-to-door delivery
- Baggage Customs Declaration Form signed by the owner
- Packing list of items in each carton box
It is a good practice to have a complete list of goods in each carton box. For the electronic items, it would be a good idea to keep the purchase bill so that the Customs officer can calculate the fair value.
Depending on the country of departure you may also need other documents for presenting to the local authorities. Please check with your cargo service handler if they require any other documents.
Depending on the location of clearance, the owner may need to physically appear at the Customs port. In case the owner cannot be present, a power of attorney can be executed. Please check with your clearing agent for more information.
Transfer of Residence: Import of Firearms
Even though the import of firearms to India is prohibited, persons transferring their residence to India for a minimum period of one year are allowed to import one firearm of permissible bore subject to the following conditions:
- The firearm should have been possessed and used abroad by the passenger for a minimum period of one year.
- The passenger should have a valid arms license from the local authorities.
- Applicable duty should be paid.
- The firearm, after clearance, shall not be sold, loaned, transferred or parted with in any manner during the lifetime of the passenger.
Frequently Asked Questions
What should I do if I am not sure about the duty-free allowance?
Whenever you are uncertain about the nature of your belongings, you must walk up to the Customs Red Channel to declare them. If your baggage does not merit a declaration, a Customs officer will clarify your doubts and you will be instructed to take the Green Channel.
What is the definition of family under Baggage Rules?
Under the Baggage Rules, “family” includes all persons who are residing in the same house and form part of the same domestic establishment.
What is detained baggage?
Detained baggage is baggage which has been kept in the custody of Customs for re-export or for clearance on payment of duty. Detained baggage will be examined and a Detention Receipt will be issued by Customs.
- Complete Guide to Indian Customs Duty-Free Allowance
- Indian Customs Rules For Electronic Items
- Indian Customs Rules for Carrying Cash
- Indian Customs Rules for Electronic Items
- Indian Customs Declaration Form (With Updated Rules)
- Atithi Mobile App for Customs Declaration
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6 thoughts on “Transfer of Residence to India: Customs Rules for NRI (2023)”
I was a resident of Oman for past 18 years and returned to India for good in March 2023.
12 boxes of household articles, mainly used kitchen items, used clothes and other used items.
The major items are 65inch LED tv and 450L refrigerators, which are dutiable, as per rules.
The customs guys in Mumbai charged 38.5% duty on all the articles and I paid Rs.77,000.
The TV and refrigerator are almost 3 year old.
Moreover, they have taken more than 40 days to release the goods in Mumbai.
Reached Mumbai port on 4th April and they released on 15 or 16th May. I received at Hyderabad on 22nd May.
What action I can take on this matter?
An NRI had been living abroad for over 25 years on proper Stay/Work permit. However for last 2 years or so his he was living without a renewed permit and is likely to be deported. What Custom rules will apply for him?
An NRI has been abroad for over 25 years on proper residence permit. However his last 2 years stay in that country his stay permit is invalid and he is deported. What will be his status as far as custom rules are concerned?
If a NRI, who acquired citizenship of other country returning to India, what are the regulation for the photographic items like camera, lens and accessories. I see only video camera is listed but not just camera.
Excellent summary and useful. If an NRI ( stayed outside India for over 5 years)wants to send goods under Transfer of Residence but he plans to continue overseas, please confirm his Residential status will still continue as an NRI for Tax purposes.
Can you advise on the amount of gold jewlery that a husband and wife can carry along with personal baggage on Transfer of Residence