Revenue warns online shoppers of cost of buying goods from outside EU

Reminder that VAT exemption for goods with value of €22 or less expired in July

A Christmas jumper bought online for €20 from a non-EU country will attract VAT this year, which wasn’t the case in 2020. Photograph: iStock

With online shopping activity expected to surge again ahead of Christmas, the Revenue Commissioners is urging consumers to check whether the advertised price of goods on non-EU sites includes all tax and duty costs before they decide to buy.

Where the price advertised is not inclusive of these costs, additional charges including VAT and customs duty can apply once goods from outside the EU arrive in the Republic.

Consumers should be aware that if the prices on non-EU sites seem “attractively low”, this may be because tax and duties are not reflected in the total, the Revenue warned.

"It's wise to be certain about the real cost of a product before going ahead with ordering online," said Maureen Dalton, head of the Revenue's southeast frontier management branch.


She reminded shoppers that as the UK was no longer a member of the EU as of last January, customs formalities and, in certain circumstances, additional charges, now applied to goods bought from the UK, excluding the North.

Since July 1st, meanwhile, new VAT rules for goods arriving into Ireland from non-EU countries mean that all such goods are subject to VAT regardless of their value.

Ms Dalton said consumers could avoid unexpected additional charges when their goods arrived in Ireland for delivery by checking if the prices included tax and duty costs due when ordering.

“In some instances, the supplier may operate a duty paid model, where the total advertised price for the goods at the time of purchase includes Irish VAT and duties meaning no further Revenue charges will arise on delivery,” she said.

“However, where this is not the case, the amount of VAT and any duties due will be payable when the goods arrive in Ireland. You will have to pay these charges to the postal service or parcel operator before the goods are delivered.”

Christmas jumpers

Since the VAT exemption for imported goods with a value of €22 or less came to an end in July, import VAT is payable on all goods arriving into Ireland from non-EU countries, irrespective of their value.

“For example, if you bought a Christmas jumper online last year for €20 from a non-EU country, no VAT or customs duty would have applied. This year however, for a similar purchase, VAT at 23 per cent will apply to the cost of the jumper plus the postage or freight cost of bringing the goods to Ireland,” Ms Dalton said.

“In monetary terms this means that, this year, a Christmas jumper that costs €20 for which a €3.50 postal charge is applied, €5.40 VAT will have to be paid before the jumper is delivered to you.

“If the purchase price of the goods alone is more than €150, you will have to pay customs duty and VAT. For example, if you purchase a pair of runners from the UK, costing €250, assuming a freight charge of €12, you will pay an additional €84.86 in customs duty and VAT.”

Ms Dalton said consumers should be aware that no customs issues arise when shopping online from sites in Ireland or other EU countries.

Laura Slattery

Laura Slattery

Laura Slattery is an Irish Times journalist writing about media, advertising and other business topics