Irish online shoppers face extra charges from UK-based retailers

Online shoppers in Ireland could face extra charges when ordering from retailers based in the UK in a no-deal Brexit.

Consumers ordering online have been warned they face increased VAT and import tariffs when buying goods from the UK.

An Post, Ireland’s postal service, deals with around 14 million packages from the UK every year and about 10 million from the rest of the world.

While customers ordering from major retailers, including ASOS and Amazon, will see the total price they pay at the checkout, others may have to pay custom fees separately.

An Post said it is launching a text and emailing service in six months to allow customers to pay for custom charges when ordering from the UK.

Garret Bridgeman, managing director of An Post mails and parcels, explained: “Amazon and a lot of these big, big companies, what they’re working on is the Delivery Duty Paid model, which will mean when you go on to their website, the price that you see there will be the price that you pay.

“So they will have said we’re not going to apply UK VAT rate, we’re going to apply the Irish VAT rate, and they will have made arrangements with Irish Revenue.”

Speaking at An Post Mail Centre in Portlaoise, Minister for European Affairs Helen McEntee said: “It’s important that people know whether or not the company or the business that they’re buying from is doing that.

“People should make themselves aware of what each individual company or business or sector is doing and how they’re applying (the changes).”

Mr Bridgeman said that An Post has been preparing for Brexit for some two years.

“We are ready and our objective in all of this is that it has no impact on our customers and they see a seamless transition and they continue online shopping in a no-deal scenario,” he added.

“We don’t see any additional cost to our customers in relation to a no-deal Brexit.

“We deal with international items from China, from the United States, and we have all the processes and procedures in place.

“Obviously there are issues with our shop retailers, such as Amazon, and pricing and things like currency fluctuations.

“All of that will have to come into play, but obviously that’s something which we are not aware of at this time.”

An Post has increased it custom staff and added new facilities at three of their sites to prepare for a no-deal Brexit.

“We have invested 15 million euro in a new, automated parcel machine to handle with the growth that we’ve had in parcels over the last number of years,” Mr Bridgeman  added.

“We have spent maybe a couple hundred thousand euros in relation to kitting out some of our facilities to put in additional offices for customs officials.”

In a no-deal scenario, parcels coming from the UK will be subject to custom inspections on a random basis.

Ms McEntee urged online shoppers to make themselves aware of the impact of a no-deal Brexit and its impact.

“They need to be aware of where they are buying from, whether the business is located in the UK, they should be aware that their rights and protections as a consumer may be and will be impacted in a no-deal Brexit,” she said.

Fergal O’Leary, member of the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission said: “If you are buying online and you’re not sure where you are buying from, you should as a first step check the terms and conditions.

“If the UK is not part of the EU in the next eight weeks, that means consumers will be replying on terms and conditions as opposed to statutory instruments that have been built up over the last couple of years.”

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