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Michael
31st March 2021

EU Exit: Postal Services

Information about the impact EU Exit will have on postal services to Northern Ireland consumers.

Last updated: 31 March 2021

ORDERING FROM GREAT BRITAIN TO NORTHERN IRELAND

Will I still be able to order from Great Britain?

Yes. You can continue to receive the majority of goods from Great Britain (GB) with no new requirements. You can also continue to send goods to GB in the same way you do at the moment.

The UK Government has said that there will be a grace period until 1 October 2021 for online orders and consumer parcels being posted from GB to NI and will not be subject to customs checks until after this time.

Goods such as plants and pet foods may need a customs declaration, you should check this with the online retailer directly.

What happens after the grace period on parcel ends?

The UK Government has not published its guidance on how parcels moving between GB and NI should be processed after 1 October 2021. We will publish these new arrangements when the information is available.

For parcel operators and businesses moving goods from NI to GB, the UK Government has published details on which goods qualify for unfettered access when moving from NI to the rest of the UK. They have also published information about declaration requirements for goods moving in or out of NI from anywhere outside of the UK or the EU.

What are the rules for goods valued over £135?

For consumers, there are no new requirements for customs declarations under the current guidance up to 1 October 2021.

However, NI businesses receiving a parcel with goods valued over £135 will have to submit a declaration through the free Trader Support Service within three months of receiving the goods.

If you receive a parcel that has a value below £135, you can continue to order these goods from GB with no new requirements and there is no need to submit a declaration.

Do I have to pay more tax or duty on goods I order online from a GB retailer?

No. VAT on goods from GB retailers to NI customers will be charged at the current rate and included in the purchase price.

Will delivery from GB be more expensive?

Royal Mail universal postal service, mainly purchased through Post Office branches or online, is the only delivery service with regulated postage costs which apply across the UK.

Online retailers and express carrier costs for delivery services are unregulated and delivery costs can vary. They vary depending on the decision to supply, the number of items it sends, the destination and the size of the items being sent. It is a commercial decision between parcel operators and retailers whether customs declaration charges after 1 October 2021 are absorbed by the business or passed on to consumers.

Are there any restrictions to what goods I can order from GB?

There are some items you cannot order from GB; for example products with animal fur. Additionally, items like plants are restricted from being sent between GB and NI and will require a customs declaration and go through specific steps before being sent.

For more specific requirements visit the GOV.uk website.

Why can I no longer buy plants or seeds from a GB retailer?

GB retailers need a licence or phytosanitary certificate to export plants and plant products from GB to NI. Without this, retailers in the rest of the UK cannot supply plants or seeds to NI and you may find that some have suspended delivery of these items to NI.

What can I do if a retailer has suspended delivery to NI?

Online retailers can choose where they supply their products or services. Unfortunately, this means they are not required to serve particular markets if they deem it to be commercially unviable because of the costs associated with delivery, customs declarations or handling fees.

We would encourage you to shop around to make sure you are getting the best value for money. Always shop safely online and make sure both the seller and the goods are legitimate. Before you buy your item, also check their terms and conditions about delivery, returns and exchanges.

Will delivery from GB take longer?

Most parcels between GB and NI are moving at a normal delivery speed. However, some areas are experiencing disruption due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Some consumers may find their parcels are taking longer than expected to be delivered. If this is the case, contact the retailer directly.

I have ordered from a GB retailer that has since stopped delivering to NI, what can I do?

Following the end of the transition period on 31 December 2020, some retailers have temporarily suspended delivery to NI, you are entitled to a refund or it is worth contacting the retailer to ensure they honour this contract.

In law, once a contract has been formed with a set total price, the seller has a legal obligation to honour this price and the buyer has a right to have the goods delivered at that price. For more information visit Delivery Law UK website.

If you know of any retailers withdrawing from NI, tell us in our Brexit poll.

 

What can I do if a retailer has advertised that they deliver across the UK, but excludes NI?

If an online retailer is offering free UK delivery but excludes certain areas of the UK like NI, this could be considered as misleading. We would encourage consumers to report this to the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA). They regulate against sellers offering misleading or erroneous promotions such as free UK delivery, and will issue enforcement notices to offending retailers.

POSTING FROM NORTHERN IRELAND TO GREAT BRITAIN

Are there any changes to posting a parcel from NI to GB?

No. The NI Protocol ensures consumers in Northern Ireland have access to the rest of the UK market. There is no requirement for export declarations on goods moving from NI to GB.

More information on the goods you can send are available on the Gov.uk website.

ORDERING FROM REPUBLIC OF IRELAND AND MAINLAND EUROPE TO NORTHERN IRELAND

Will I still be able to order from European Union countries?

Yes. As part of the NI Protocol, there is free movement of goods between the European Union (EU) and NI. For moving goods between NI and the EU, including the Republic of Ireland, there are no declaration requirements provided that the goods are moving directly between NI and the EU.

Do NI consumers have to pay import duty and customs fees when ordering goods from EU countries?

No. As part of the NI Protocol, there is free movement of goods between EU and NI. However, NI will remain part of the UK VAT system but will maintain alignment with EU’s VAT rules on goods. This means NI consumers can shop with EU retailers without barriers or taxes.

I have received a parcel from an EU Country and I am being asked to pay import duties and a handling fee, what can I do?

There are some cases where consumers in NI are being incorrectly charged import VAT and parcel handling fees. If you live in NI and have received a parcel from an EU country or ordered goods from an EU seller for delivery in NI, but believe you have been incorrectly charged import duties and parcel handling fees, you may be able to claim back these costs.

To reclaim Import Duties you should complete the following forms on the Gov.uk website.

For the parcel handling fee, this should be reclaimed separately from the relevant parcel operator who is making the charge.

Can I post a parcel to an EU country?

Yes. You can post a parcel to a country in the EU in the same way you have done previously. The procedure remains the same and you do not need to attach a customs declaration form.

Will goods be more expensive?

This is the decision of the seller. There will be no tariffs on products sold between the United Kingdom (UK) and the EU which should prevent prices rising due to the EU Exit.

EU Exit parcels and deliveries surveys

We want to know if you are experiencing issues when ordering goods online.