Brexit: Irish consumers warned of new online shopping charges

Not all retailers will automatically add VAT or customs charges at the online checkout

Minister of State Robert Troy (right)  encouraged consumers in Ireland to continue to enjoy the benefit from shopping online with the UK but he urged them to ‘think ahead’ before making a purchase. File image: Dara Mac Donaill / The Irish Times

Minister of State Robert Troy (right) encouraged consumers in Ireland to continue to enjoy the benefit from shopping online with the UK but he urged them to ‘think ahead’ before making a purchase. File image: Dara Mac Donaill / The Irish Times

 

Irish consumers are being urged to be aware of complicated new costs and altered entitlements when purchasing goods from British online retailers due to the UK’s exit from the European Union’s single market.

Irish Vat now applies to goods from British retailers that cost more than €22, and customs fees apply to some purchases of more than €150. If UK Vat has been charged, Irish Vat will still apply upon importation. In such instances the consumer should seek a refund of UK VAT from the supplier.

While some retailers are adding any applicable charges at the online checkout, others may not alert customers of these new fees that will then need to be paid through delivery companies or An Post.

Minister of State for Trade Promotion, Digital and Company Regulation Robert Troy is reminding Irish consumers to be alert for potential additional costs and changes to entitlements when buying from online retailers based in Britain.

“We are now operating under a new set of rules… Consumers need to check out each retailer’s policies,” he said in a statement on Wednesday.

The convenience and protections enjoyed by consumers in the EU no longer automatically apply when buying from online retailers in Britain, he said. This meant consumers would rely on UK consumer protection legislation if something went wrong with an order.

While he encouraged consumers in Ireland to continue to enjoy the benefit from shopping online with the UK, he urged them to “think ahead” before making a purchase.

Mr Troy also warned of additional charges that may come in the form of handling fees from delivery companies, where VAT and customs has not been automatically added to an order at the online checkout.

An Post is charging a €3.50 handling fee for collecting charges from consumers on behalf of Revenue. Parcels will not be released by An Post until any applicable charges are paid either through its newly developed online system or at a local post office.

The vast majority of UK online retailers for whom An Post delivers have new charges built into the online shopping process, taking away any administrative work from consumers. This includes high-end department store Selfridges, where purchases will not be subject to UK VAT and local taxes and duties will be added to the basket total. Online fashion retailer ASOS has said its customers will not have to pay any new customs duties or import taxes as it will ship items from its EU-based warehouse.

Amazon UK has opted for an “import fees deposit” which applies an estimate of import fees applicable to the delivery region. This deposit is used to reimburse delivery companies for import fees they pay on behalf of a customer. In the event the deposit exceeds the final import costs, Amazon says it will refund the difference.

Meanwhile, Irish people signed up to Amazon’s auto-delivery service, “Subscribe & Save”, may be experiencing subscription delays or find certain products are no longer available for auto-delivery. A spokesman said that customers affected will receive an email confirming the subscription cannot be fulfilled due to changes in the trading relationship between the EU and the UK.