India Customs Rules for Transfer of Residence to India


NRIs, PIOs and OIC card holders who plan to shift their place of residence to India will face the prospect of having to move their personal belongings and other goods transferred across countries. Moving a home within a city or a country is complicated enough, and when the transfer of residence is trans-national or trans-continental, there are several customs duty reductions you could avail from the Indian government.


If you are an NRI living abroad, and are planning a transfer of residence to India, then here are the Customs Rules you should know so that your goods and personal effects are transferred safely to India. We highly recommend that you make use of Transfer of Residency, so that you can avail the customs duty reductions on several items.


Do You Qualify to Avail The Transfer of Residence?

Transfer of Residence is a facility provided by the Indian government for Non-Resident Indians who intend to permanently shift to India, after staying abroad for one year or more. With the new Customs Baggage Rules that came into effect on April 1, 2016, these are the criteria for an NRI to avail the Transfer of Residence facility:


3-6 Months Spent Abroad: Those staying abroad for three to six months will be allowed to import household goods worth INR 60,000 free of any Customs Duty.


6-12 Months Spent Abroad: Those returning to India after a residency of six to twelve months abroad will be allowed to import household items worth INR 100,000 free of any Customs Duty.

1-2 Years Spent Abroad: Those NRIs who are returning home after a period of two years or more will be allowed to import household goods worth INR 200,000 free of any Customs Duty.


Are There Any Exemptions to The Transfer of Residence Rules?

In case you have been staying abroad, but fail to meet the above time limits to avail Transfer of Residence rules, there are some exceptions. The Deputy Commissioner of Customs or the Assistant Commissioner of Customs can condone up to two months of shortfall. Especially in cases of terminal leave or other exceptional circumstances, which you must give in writing to the officials, you may be eligible for a Transfer of Residence, even with a small shortfall in the duration of stay abroad.


List of Duty Free Items Allowed Under Transfer of Residence

Here is an updated list of household goods that are customs duty free if you avail Transfer of Residence:

  • Used personal effects or household goods whose aggregate value does not exceed INR 500,000.
  • Washing Machine
  • Domestic Refrigerators up to 300 liters in capacity
  • One laptop
  • One desktop
  • Electrical or LPG cooking range
  • Jewellery worth INR 100,000 for female passengers, and INR 50,000 for male passengers

List of Items with Reduced Customs Duty under Transfer of Residence

Here is a list of items which will carry a reduced Customs Duty if you avail a transfer of residence while returning to India:

  • Color Television Sets
  • DVDs and Home Theater Systems
  • Air Conditioner
  • Dish washer
  • Music systems
  • Deep Freezer
  • Microwave Oven
  • Fax Machine
  • Portable Photocopy Machine
  • Domestic Refrigerators with a capacity of 300 liters or more
  • Video Cameras
  • Aircraft
  • Cinematographic films of 35mm or above
  • Jewellery taken out of India by that person when they left (you may need to show proof for this.)

How to Calculate Customs Duty on Used Items in India?

If you know the value of the used item, then it is not too difficult to calculate the customs duty that you might have to pay while bringing it to India. You will have to pay a duty on the “assessed value” of the product. This is usually calculated by the officials of the Customs Department using their internal database of prices. Also bear in mind that they will also calculate and deduct the amount of depreciation on your goods, depending on how old they are.


Normally, the value of the depreciation would be calculated as:

  • 16 % for the first year
  • 12% for the second year
  • 10% for the third year

And so, if your item is four years old, then the assessed value will probably be 38% less than the cost you paid at the time of purchase. A customs duty will be levied on this amount.


Drones are Now Banned in India

Under no circumstances does the Indian government allow the import of drones into the country, for security reasons. From April 1, 2016, Drones are in the prohibited list and are not duty free.


So, these are the main Customs Duty Rules for you to remember if you are planning to avail a Transfer of Residency to India. We recommend that you speak with the Indian Consulate at the country of your residence in order to ensure that you have the smoothest possible transfer to India.

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