Will Brexit affect duty-free?
Following the UK and the EU signing the Withdrawal Agreement, the UK left the European Union on 31st January 2020. We are currently in a transition period which will last until the end of December 2020, and the rules on Duty-Free will remain the same throughout this implementation period. After Brexit is finalized some rules may temporarily change when you bring goods for your own use from the EU to the UK. But don't worry, you will continue to pay tax and duties where you bought them, and can bring back an unlimited amount of most goods (including alcohol and tobacco). This is as long as you transport the goods yourself, will use them yourself or will give them away as a gift and have paid duty and tax in the country where you bought them. Although there are no limits to the alcohol and tobacco you can bring in from EU countries, you're more likely to be asked questions if you have more than the amounts listed on the UK Government website.
You can still use your duty-free allowance (which means you can bring in a certain amount of goods for your own use from outside the European Union without paying duty or tax). You can also claim a refund of the VAT you paid where you bought the goods, according to the UK Government website. Please note: this does not apply to bringing goods from Ireland to Northern Ireland.
If you claim a VAT refund in another country then you'll have to pay import VAT on the goods when you arrive in the UK. You may also have to pay excise and customs duty on the full value of the goods (if they are above the excise and customs duty allowances). After Brexit has been finalised, the excise and customs duty allowances will be the same as the allowances for bringing back goods from non-EU countries, and you will be able to declare goods online.
Duty-free and buying goods from the European Union
It's understandable to want to know what will happen to how products are taxed and it's likely that you'll also want to understand how Brexit will affect UK business travellers, who will have personal expenses or just travelling costs in general.
You don't currently pay extra duty or tax on goods from the European Union. As an independent traveller, there are no limits on what you can take with you when traversing EU countries, provided the products you are taking with you are not for resale. The taxes on the products you've purchased will have been applied in the country where you brought it, and you'll not be subjected to any further payments.
What is duty-free?
Duty-free is a great opportunity to purchase products without the country's government duties or taxes being paid on them. Duties and taxes would usually be charged if you bought these products in a regional store outside of the airport. However, it's not just airports where you'll find duty-free products: you can buy them while in the air, cruise ships and port cities.
To benefit from duty-free you must be leaving the country and these items will be sold according to permitted customs limits. You'll also likely find a Duty-Free shop upon your return to a country.
Will there be duty-free after Brexit?
As it stands, there is no duty-free shopping on trips between the UK and EU countries and currently, the UK Government has no plans to reintroduce it. However, duty and tax are vast drivers of trade between countries, so you'll need to wait to see to find out what will happen next but during the transition period things will remain the same.
British citizens are currently able to move alcohol, oils and tobacco (among other goods) between the UK and the rest of the European Union without having to pay excise duty taxes on those goods at the UK border.
All information correct as of February 2020. Sources include the UK Government website and The Eurotunnel Website.
Further Brexit Guides
If you found this guide on duty post-Brexit free useful, then check out a few of our other top Brexit guides for further helpful information.
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