Howls of protest are greeting normally joyful parcel deliveries across the country.
Whether you are bagging a bargain on Black Friday (November 26) or getting timely Christmas gifts in, buying from the UK is costing far more these days, as many shoppers are finding out for the first time.
Since Brexit finalised on December 31 2020, and particularly since last July when Vat rules changed, importing goods from across the Irish Sea imposes a raft of compliance, tax and customs charges, in many cases making any bargain redundant. Here’s what you need to know:
Britain is a ‘third country’, putting it in the same basket as China, Canada and Australia. As such, Any item bought for personal use could be subject to customs duty, excise duty, VAT, even anti-dumping and countervailing duty.
How much do they add?
VAT is payable on all goods entering the EU based on the VAT rate on that item in Ireland. The previous exemption for goods up to €22 in value has been removed. The VAT rate is 23pc on most retail goods, although there are lower rates (13.5pc, 9pc or 0pc) on certain items. VAT is added on top of all other taxes and duties and on transport, insurance and handling costs, after the goods arrive in Ireland.
Customs duty is payable on any consignment valued over €150 – not just any one item – calculated on the intrinsic value (before delivery/handling charges). While the average rate is around 12pc, every item from every different country is tabulated separately so you may not know in advance how much it will be.
The rates can be found on the EU’s TARIC website, but it is exceptionally difficult to navigate as a consumer.
Excise Duty is payable on alcohol and tobacco products, separately from customs duty. Duty-free limits apply only where you accompany the goods to Ireland.
Anti-Dumping and Countervailing duties are import taxes applied to prevent cheap imports with non-compliant or lesser material and labour costs which damage EU industries.
It is generally added to items from Asia but can be applied on anything considered damaging to our economy.
Goods under €150
Taxes applied to items shipped from the UK depend on whether they are valued under or over €150. Goods, say clothing, worth €55 plus handling/transport and insurance costs of €10, carry a customs valuation of €65.
Because it is under €150 there is no duty applied, however VAT of 23pc adds €14.95.
The delivery company adds €10 to deliver it, meaning the total cost is €89.95. It is the courier’s legal duty to collect the outstanding taxes before handing over goods.
For example, a branded shirt from John Lewis is priced £85 on their website, which seems like a bargain, given the same item in Dublin costs €109.
However, shipping adds £5.83 resulting in a checkout price of £90.83. At current exchange rates that’s €108.16, to which Vat (20.91) and An Post handing (€10) is added, bringing the total to €121.74.
Goods over €150
Items valued at €152 will cost €240.06 once customs duty is added – after shipping and postage is charged as VAT is added on top of all other charges.
Avoid buying anything from a UK website which does not have a brick and mortar presence here. British retailers will not charge extra duties if you buy on their Irish (.ie) website.
Importing has created a pay day for scammers. When you get a message asking you to pay, always check with the courier. It should have exact details of the retailer and amount to validate the link.
Try to only buy goods you will not need to return. The UK no longer has to abide by EU rules on refunds. Even if they do take returns, you will have to apply to Revenue for a tax refund each time and prove the item was returned.
Do not assume a .ie address is Irish. Look for the business’s postal address, usually located at the bottom of the site.
Remember that UK stores do not have to comply with Irish rules requiring a minimum expiry date of five years for gift vouchers.