EU admits Europeans face new costs when buying UK goods despite Brexit trade deal

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The European Commission today reaffirmed that any shipments from Britain could include new VAT or admin charges under the terms of the post-Brexit Trade and Cooperation Agreement. A spokesman explained the fees would continue even despite the zero-tariff, zero-quota nature of the UK and EU’s relationship pact. The admission followed a series of reports that customers in Europe buying a range of products had received unexpected bills for VAT and customs declarations.

A number of British firms have also stopped sending goods to mainland Europe because of the new bureaucracy.

Luxury food brand Fortnum & Mason have told consumers they are “unable to send any products to European countries at this current time, due to Brexit restrictions”.

Responding to questions about the new customs charges, a Commission spokesman said the difficulties would likely continue “over the coming months and years”.

He said: “In terms of the agreement, it is tariff-free, quota-free.

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“Of course, this does not mean that there is going to be continued frictionless trade, as there was when the UK was a member state of the European Union or during the transition period last year.

“There is going to be additional charges – administrative charges or indeed, the big top here, is VAT, which customs will have to pay.

“We’ve seen various reports about customers facing difficulties or being charged for various things. I can say, very generally, that there will be addition friction now and there may be additional charges.”

Many shipping firms, such as DHL or UPS, are now collecting additional charges for customs declarations, with customers having to pay the fee before delivery.

And Amazon’s UK operation has included an “import fees deposit”, that is automatically added to orders from mainland Europe.

Also, the Brexit trade deal only covers goods ordered from the UK that originate from Britain.

Goods ordered from Britain but manufactured outside the country are liable to customs duties.

One French consumer website explained that a pair of trainers ordered from a UK firm but made in and shipped from China would be hit by customs duty of 16.9 percent and 20 percent French VAT.

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The Centre Européen des Consommateurs France said this would see a £270 pair of trainers cost around £378.

The UK Government, Royal Mail and Post Office have also issued a warning to consumers that they face new taxes to receive certain goods and gifts from EU countries.

Anyone receiving an item worth more than £39 may face a bill for import VAT, as well as a customs duty for goods worth more than £135, if it hasn’t already been paid by the sender.

“For gifts over £39 and goods over £135, Royal Mail may collect the VAT and customs duties on behalf of HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) from the recipient prior to delivery,” according to Royal Mail’s website.

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It explained that letters, postcards and documents are “usually” exempt from the charges.

UK Government guidance added: “Royal Mail will tell you how much you need to pay and the available payment methods.

“Once payment is received, you can request delivery of your package or pick it up from your local delivery office or depot.”

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