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Potential extra costs when buying goods online

In this news article, Maureen Dalton, Head of Revenue’s South East Frontier Management Branch, reminds shoppers of potential additional costs when buying goods online.

In the run-up to one of the busiest times of the year for buying goods and gifts online, Revenue is reminding shoppers to check whether the advertised price of online goods includes all tax and duty costs due before deciding to buy.

Where the price of the goods advertised seems attractively low, this may be because tax and duty costs are not reflected in the price advertised, and additional charges, including VAT and Customs Duty, can apply once the goods arrive in Ireland.

Almost all goods bought online arriving from non-EU countries will be liable to tax and duty. You need to check whether the advertised price includes any tax and duty costs.

Knowing the real cost of a product from the outset will better inform your decision to buy the goods and will ensure there are no surprise additional tax and duty costs when the goods actually arrive in Ireland.

Import charges

In the case of some suppliers, a duty-paid model is in operation whereby the total advertised price for the goods at the time of purchase includes Irish VAT and duties, meaning no further such charges will arise on delivery.

However, where this is not the case, the amount of VAT and any duties due will be payable when the goods arrive in Ireland.

Online shoppers should also be aware that, separate to import taxes and duties, it is normal practice for parcel operators to also charge an administration fee, the amount of which can vary across operators.

You will have to pay all of these additional charges to the postal service or parcel operator before the goods will be delivered to you.

Additional charges

Import VAT is payable on all goods arriving in Ireland from non-EU countries, irrespective of the value of the goods.

For example, if you buy a Christmas jumper online for €20 from a non-EU country, VAT at 23% will apply to the cost of the jumper plus the parcel operator’s administration fee for bringing the goods to Ireland.

In monetary terms, this means that for a Christmas Jumper that costs €20 and for which a €3.50 administration fee applies, €5.40 VAT will have to be paid before the jumper is delivered to you.

If the purchase price of the goods alone is more than €150, you will have to pay Customs Duty and VAT.

For example, if you purchase a coat from the UK, costing €250, assuming an administration fee of €12, you will pay an additional €97.16 in combined Customs Duty and VAT.

This may add more than €100 to the original purchase price, which may influence the decision to purchase.

Customs formalities do not apply when shopping online from Ireland or other EU countries.

Online shoppers should be aware that a ‘.ie’ domain name does not necessarily mean that a website you are buying from is based in Ireland.

Shoppers can check where a business is based by reading through the ‘about’, ‘contact us’ and ‘terms and conditions’ sections of the website of the business concerned.

Further information on tax and duty charges that may arise on goods bought online for personal use can be found on revenue.ie.

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