Shopping online in the UK after Brexit is already a nightmare: this is how the new customs and shipping procedures work
After almost two months since the entry into force of Brexit we’ve been aware of the chaos to come in commercial relations between the member countries of the European Union and the United Kingdom. We have to remember that the British country is at the head of the e-commerce in Europe and, although agreements have been reached that facilitate free trade between both sides, collateral damage exists that are not only reflected in the images of trucks stopped for days at the Kent border, but in the users themselves.
And is that Brexit has many more implications in the lives of many ordinary Spaniards that we think of. In fact, it is already a headache for many buyers. Why? We have realized that many of the things we asked for on the Internet come from there and the administrative landscape has changed.
Online purchases made in UK stores and web portals have been considered imports since January 1. This means that these purchases are subject to customs procedures, VAT and other formalities that in addition to supplying delays in shipments, they can also become additional charges in delivery services.
Lucas Vara, resident of Madrid, complained a few days ago on Twitter of what he had to go through to buy a Steven Wilson special edition album in the British store Townsend Music. According to what he tells us, the arrival of the product was scheduled for this January 29, despite the fact that he had ordered it last year. Shipping costs? 20 euros. Nothing disproportionate. On February 3, he was notified that it would be delivered the next day, but the package never arrived. “I started to suspect that it had something to do with Customs, so I saw that they updated the shipment information from UPS and I was able to read several times Package delayed due to Brexit-related disruption“.
A few days later he received an email from customs clearance. “There I was surprised that had to pay an amount of 40.55 euros: 22.40 in concept of State administration charges, 15 euros for Customs charges and the corresponding VAT ”, he says outraged. These 40.55 were in addition to the 20 shipping I had previously paid for. In short, Vara had to pay around 60 euros just for the album to arrive at his house. “The alternative was to run out of disk and lose shipping costs that were already high or pay everything and never order anything else again. I opted for the second, “he says.
It is not the first time that you have difficulties when buying since January 1. On another occasion he went to order a box of vinyls from WARP, an electronic music label and when going to complete the order they indicated that to their Spanish address it was not possible to make the shipment. This is the answer they gave him: “We are having difficulties when it comes to processing your order. Given the size of the product, the shipment would be made via DPD service, but currently they are not managing orders until some problems arising from Brexit and the customs restrictions are solved ”. “What strikes me the most about this is that right now they do not have the option to send according to which products outside the United Kingdom,” explains Vara.
VAT, DUA and customs formalities
The Article 23 of EU Regulation 1186/2009 establishes that goods from third countries may be imported without tariffs if their value is less than 150 euros. However, the agreement signed on December 24 between the European Union and the United Kingdom, establishes that for the moment there will be no tariffs or quotas will be established for merchandise originating from both parties, although movements of goods are subject to customs formalities.
The formality in customs consists of the processing of the Single Administrative Document (DUA) of Importation and in the payment of VAT, which in the case of imports, is done at customs. The law also establishes that imported goods whose value does not globally exceed 22 euros will be exempt from VAT. However, this exemption disappears on June 30.
More specifically: if your order costs less than 22 euros, don’t worry for the moment, because goods of this amount or less do not pay VAT or duties until the beginning of July. If the order costs between 22 and 150 euros, It is necessary to carry out the corresponding customs procedures to settle the VAT, which is usually responsible for the transport agency (Post, FEDEX, DHL UPS, etc.) charging a commission for it. If it exceeds 150 euros, they will not have tariffs for now, although they will be subject to customs formalities.
These formalities are mainly the complaint of many consumers, who have seen how the price of their products has begun to swell after the entry into force of Brexit. But how much do we talk about? The commission of the transport company for the processing varies depending on the company in question. Post office, for example, charges 5.88 euros for the presentation to Customs and another 19.03 euros for the processing of the Single Administrative Document (DUA) simplified for merchandise worth less than 150 euros or 24.62 euros for the ordinary DUA, when the merchandise costs more than 150 euros.
Carlos Pi, from Madrid, has lived this same thing on his own skins. This collector of figures, old toys and comics used to buy in the US because it is where he found the most products and the cheapest they were. As customs clearances became more and more common, he began searching the UK. He tells that it was January and he got a surprise, let’s say not good. “I bought 18 old comics by Ibai from an antique company last year. The price was 125 euros and I had to pay 35 euros just for the customs formalities and the shipping company. Something that hadn’t happened to me before, ”he explains.
Now, as with US sellers on Ebay, as the shipping is processed by associates of the same company, together with the value of the item, what you have to pay from Customs already appears, which is automatically charged when paying for the item and shipping. “For my part, buying in the UK is over. Now I look in France or Germany, but there is much less material ”, he confesses.
Something similar happened to Fran Pérez. In his shop Nigramercato They sell clothes and slippers, but they also include art books in their catalog. They used to buy these books in the UK before Brexit. Up to now. “We ordered a batch of books whose total amount was 600 euros and We had to face an extra 120 euros of taxes and management with the DHL company. Each product was priced at approximately 5 euros and we did not know it until our supplier notified us. The management expenses of the shipping company was 30 euros and we had to pay the total directly to the courier, to our surprise, ”says Pérez.
Ileana Izverniceanu, director of communication and institutional relations of OCU (Organization of consumers and users) explains to us that “these procedures are carried out at customs, through a customs agent who is in charge of managing customs clearance and customs clearance on behalf of the client. payment of taxes. Transport agencies have customs agents and they charge a commission for carrying out these procedures”.
But as of July 1, everything could change. “Each order that comes from a country outside the EU will have to pay VAT. In return, customs procedures are simplified, since it will be the stores located abroad that will have to collect VAT and subsequently enter it at the Treasury of the destination country. Therefore, although VAT will be paid, Customs agent commissions will be saved”Izverniceanu points out.
The flow of imports for purchases online of individuals has grown exponentially and according to the OCU spokesperson, “an improvement in regulation was necessary, since the VAT exemption up to 22 euros it served as a drain and many merchandise with a declared value lower than the real one were imported, which meant a loss of collection and unfair competition, since these foreign merchants sold at lower prices by not applying VAT to their products ”.
Some companies already prefer not to sell outside the country
All these procedures have become a headache both for users who place orders, whose pockets suffer more than before, and for British companies who see how orders spend days at the border and the customer service mailbox is filled with complaints and claims. It is not alien to our country. As it happens in the Canary Islands, many companies are already rethinking whether to sell outside their borders.
Oscar Martin of Navarcles fears that the company where he bought a product will backtrack on shipments and, in the meantime, has already experienced considerable delays. It was about a limited and exclusive edition video game. “The orders had been open for several weeks, and began to be sent at the end of January to those who had bought from the UK. To buyers from the rest of Europe the orders were canceled and the money was refunded. They told us that they were thinking of a solution, since due to Brexit they would have to start considering it as exports. That the most they could do was keep a reserve for us so as not to run out of the product ”, he explains.
Fortunately, a few days ago, they were allowed to buy the product. “The store has warned us that if Customs holds the order you will have to follow the usual procedures and there may be additional costs and that obviously we will have to pay VAT before picking up the package. In fact, they’ve been wringing their heads for days to see how they ship all orders to the rest of Europe after Brexit. Until March they told us nothing. We will see if the end comes or not, “he explains.
Anyway, the OCU consumer expert is clear: “We will have to wait for the new system to come into force in July and the procedures are really simplified. We understand that, in any case, purchases online from or to the UK will decrease drastically as a result of Brexit ”.