European webshops give up British customers after Brexit

tothdst /

Sending orders online to the UK is a lot more expensive and complex after the Brexit. Some European online retailers are therefore discontinuing their deliveries to the country.


"195 different tax rates”

Now that the United Kingdom is no longer part of the European single market, new VAT obligations, administrative procedures and customs formalities apply. For example, European traders wishing to sell in the UK will have to register for the separate VAT regime as the tax will now be collected at the point of sale itself rather than at import. In concrete terms, these formalities are the same as those for sending parcels from China or the United States.


The complexity of this new procedure, and the lack of clarity, has already led several e-commerce operators in continental Europe to take drastic decisions: the BBC notes that a number of smaller, specialised online retailers are announcing on their websites that they will no longer be supplying to the UK. The Dutch webshop for bicycle parts Bike Bits and the Belgian Beer on Web are two examples quoted.


For example, Bike Bits reports that it will ship to any country in the world, except the United Kingdom, allegedly forced "by UK policy". "If every country decided to behave in the same way, then we would have to pay 195 fees every year, keep up with the changes in taxation law for 195 different countries, keep accounts on behalf of 195 different countries and submit payments to 195 tax offices in 195 different countries, and jump through whatever hoops were required to prove that we were doing all of this honestly and without any error,” the company states.


An extra 4.31 pound per parcel

Conversely, the extra formalities also translate into higher shipping costs from the UK to the EU: courier companies such as DHL, UPS and Federal Express have announced that they will be charging extra for shipments between the UK and the EU because of the investment they have had to make to adapt their systems to the Brexit. In the case of TNT, the charge is 4.31 pound per shipment.


However, physical trade is also restricted: Europeans going shopping in the UK are allowed to bring a maximum of 430 euro of products by air or ferry. With Eurostar, the maximum is already 300 euro. Private individuals will no longer be allowed to bring meat and cheese from the British Isles.