Wednesday 27 January 2021 10:03 am

Amazon halts alcohol sales in Northern Ireland following new Brexit customs rules

Online retail giant Amazon has halted sales of wines, beers and spirits in Northern Ireland as it prepares to de-list more products under new Brexit customs rules.

The company is concerned that excise duty will now have to be paid twice on alcohol shipments sent from British mainland across the Irish Sea.

Amazon suspended orders in Northern Ireland at the end of December, shortly after the UK/EU trade deal was published.

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The decision is unlikely to be reversed until clarity is obtained on the tax situation from HMRC.

In a statement, an Amazon spokesperson said: “We are planning and preparing for a 1 April end of the grace period so we can continue to serve our customers in Northern Ireland who count on Amazon with the broadest possible selection of products.”

New paperwork

Britain left the European Union’s single market and customs union on 31 December, introducing paperwork and declarations for businesses that import and export goods with the bloc.

A separate agreement was struck requiring a regulatory border in the Irish Sea between Northern Ireland the rest of the UK to keep the border open.

Selwyn Stein, managing director of London-based VAT reclamation firm VAT IT, told City A.M.: “Get one thing wrong in the reams of new paperwork and goods can be impounded or fines levied.

“If you are selling your goods in multiple European countries that is hours more work now needed to make sure they sail through borders.”

Big retailers pause deliveries

Online shoppers are already facing fewer choices in Northern Ireland, as big retailers such as Dunelm, John Lewis and TK Maxx pause deliveries.

The British government said most parcels are continuing to move smoothly and there was no reason for businesses not to send goods to Northern Ireland.

A government spokesperson said: “These goods will not be taxed twice, and we will issue new guidance clarifying the position to ensure any remaining issues are addressed.”

Read more: UK to start talks with Switzerland on post-Brexit financial services deal

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