The current rules of the Protocol offer significant savings for NI shoppers

As the busiest time of the year for online shopping approaches, Chartered Accountants Ireland is reminding consumers in Northern Ireland that they can continue to buy from both Great Britain and the EU without having to face paying unexpected customs and VAT charges when goods are delivered.

Protocol advantage

Commenting Cróna Clohisey, Public Policy Lead in Chartered Accountants Ireland said: “Consumers have an opportunity to take advantage of the fact that currently the Protocol mandates Northern Ireland to continue to follow EU trading rules for goods. This means that if an individual buys online from Great Britain or the EU, whether it be in Black Friday or Cyber Monday sales or more generally for Christmas gifts, you shouldn’t be charged any additional tax or duty costs when the goods are delivered to your door. Consumers in Great Britain are not afforded the same advantage.”

Ms Clohisey continued: “Northern Ireland shoppers can essentially shop freely as they did before the UK left the EU, and therefore enjoy more choice when it comes to purchases. Consumers should also be safe in the knowledge that the advertised price is the final price they will pay for the goods, delivery charges excluded.”

The same advantage does not apply when buying from countries outside of the EU. The Institute is therefore reminding shoppers in Northern Ireland that if they choose to buy from non-EU countries, they should check whether the advertised price of goods includes all tax and duty costs. More often than not VAT and customs will apply after the goods are bought and must be paid before they can be delivered.

Ms Clohisey continued: “The responsibility for paying VAT, customs duties and other charges lies with the end-consumer where goods are purchased from non-EU countries. In some cases, the seller might pick-up the charges, but generally, it falls to the consumer to pay the VAT and customs to the parcel operator or the postal service. In many cases, this can ramp up the price of a purchase quite significantly.”

“Since July, new rules mean that VAT will be charged at a rate of 20%, regardless of their value while customs duties will arise where the product costs more than £135. Purchasing a pair of jeans from the United States for £150, could end up costing roughly £230 when VAT, customs and handling charges are taken into account.”

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