Public awareness campaign needed to highlight the risks of online shopping post-Brexit – Richmond

24th January 2021 - Neale Richmond, TD

A Government public awareness campaign is needed to highlight additional customs charges affecting many online shoppers when ordering from UK-based websites according to Fine Gael TD and party spokesman on European Affairs, Neale Richmond.

Deputy Richmond said: “After years of protracted negotiations the Brexit transition period has ended and the effects of Brexit on our daily lives are becoming clear.

“The Government had great success in raising awareness of steps businesses and industry groups needed to take to prepare themselves for Brexit through the ‘Getting Ireland Brexit Ready’ campaign, but now a post-Brexit campaign is needed to highlight the subsequent risks consumers are facing when shopping online.

“A growing problem is confusion over where purchases are actually coming from. Consumers must also be aware that ordering from a .eu or .ie website does not mean they are safe from charges as many companies may still hold a European address, but their products are actually coming from the UK and fall under the custom charges rules.

“Many online shoppers have been hit with unexpected customs charges this month due to ordering online from the UK or UK based websites.

“Now that the UK has left the European single market, if you order a package worth over €22 from the UK you must pay VAT on this order to the same value as would be charged in Ireland. Additionally, if your order is worth over €150, you may then be liable for customs charges if the products you order are manufactured outside the UK. The customs charge depends on the category of the product you have ordered.

“Given that a recent Competition and Consumer Protection Commission study found that only 15% of consumers knew that buying from non-EU companies online would lead to taxes and charges, it is clear there is the need for more awareness in this area.

“As such, I have requested that the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment, Leo Varadkar, conducts a thorough public awareness campaign through his Department, perhaps in partnership with the European Consumer Centre, on the changes that consumers may experience when online shopping.

“Online shopping, while already popular with much of the population, is on the rise further due to Covid-19 restrictions. In April when the first lockdown was in full swing, online shopping orders increased by 500% compared to the year before.

“While shopping local is always best, it is not always an option and many people will be caught out by these new regulations. Consumers need to be fully aware of the growing risks of online shopping post-Brexit.”

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