WATCH: Will there be extra tariffs for online shopping from the UK?

Maltese consumers who bought items online from the UK over these last few days have started to come face to face with the new reality of additional expenses as a result of Brexit.

This is because many of the items are subject to VAT and customs duty, a reality which has led to some companies based in the UK to stop their services to Malta because of an increase in bureaucracy.

Over the first few days of this year,  a Maltese consumer purchased items manufactured in China from a website based in the UK for the price of €160.

However, when the item arrived the consumer was asked to pay an additional €47.68 in VAT and customs duty.

This is due to the new tariffs which came into affect after Brexit, when the UK stopped being in the Common market where there is freedom of movement for people, products, services and capital.

For products which cost less than €22 there is no additional VAT or excise tax.

Now one needs to start paying 18% VAT on items coming from the UK or which cost more than €22, except for books on which the VAT is 5%.

In case the items cost more than €150, the duty varies according to the item.

The Head of Operations of MaltaPost, Adrian Vassallo said that this will leave a great impact on the company which over the last few years has experienced a heavy increase in online shopping from the UK, especially when it comes to electronic equipment, clothes and books.

”Since last year we have seen a considerable increase on packages and the amount of items which were bought online. We have even seen a percentage increase of up to 20% from one year to the next. The UK is one of the countries from which the Maltese order the most items.”

Mr Vassallo said that customs officials inspect every item which arrives from outside of the. EU and can ask the buyer for more proof about how much it costs. He explained that according to this information they can calculate the VAT and excise duty. He said that the item is then posted once the tariffs are paid for by the buyer.

People who over the last few days tried to buy books from a website based in the UK, found to their surprise that Malta is no longer on the list of countries to which the company exports.

In an email, which Television Malta has a copy of, this company said that it stopped selling books to Malta because of the new relationship between the UK and the EU, however it is working to resume this service to Malta as soon as possible.

Mr Vassallo said that this reality is being experienced by various UK companies especially because of the increase in bureaucracy and the documents which have to be filled in.

”There are companies, many of them small ones, which have realised that it will be so expensive to send goods to EU countries that they have decided to stop this service. Some larger companies, which wish to offer the same service to their clients, have temporarily stopped shipping to the EU until they find a solution”.

He added that because of the pandemic, there have been delays in the arrival of certain items to Malta.

”If you ordered something before 1 January but the seller sent it after that date, you will have to pay VAT and customs duty. If it started its journey before 1 January, the  item will be considered to be an item originating from the EU and you will not incur extra charges.”

Various companies are indicating on their website the new rates which need to be paid for the importation of their items.