August 2, 2022

What Brexit means for European online shops

What Brexit means for European online shops

Long before Amazon popularised the marketplace concept, commerce was already organised around trusted third parties: markets and trading venues whose reputation was a guarantee of trust for the various stakeholders. Today, this role is still part of the missions of the various players in commerce: retailers, marketplaces or other intermediaries.

Because we are building a network of shared inventory to serve e-commerce players, we at Stockly are in daily contact with them. Our mission is to help e-merchants deal with out of stock by opening our shared inventory network to them. We are thus confronted with their various problems. The aim of this article is to share the lessons learnt over the last few months, particularly in the light of the changes linked to Brexit.

International trade in Europe has been largely disrupted by the UK’s exit from the European free trade area, forcing all involved parties to adapt quickly.

The first step is to understand what the Brexit changes in substance for trade, in order to react in the short term urgency, and then adapt to the new rules in the medium term.

What’s new after Brexit for trade

The United Kingdom has now left the European Union VAT regime as of January 1st, exports between the UK and the EU are now subject to new international agreements. This has a double implication for sales from the EU to the UK and vice versa.

  • All goods imported in the UK will be subject to local VAT.
  • Online marketplaces will be responsible for collecting and accounting for the UK VAT. They must supply the customer with a full VAT invoice at the point of sale.

Shipping from the EU to the UK

For goods with a value below £135 (including transport and insurance costs):

  • VAT will now be charged at point of sale rather than point of import.
  • For a B2B sale, the buyer is responsible for the VAT rather than the seller.

For goods with a value of more than £135 (including transport and insurance costs):

  • These items are liable to both Custom fees, calculated according to the value of the good, and British VAT.
  • It is necessary to complete a trade goods declaration for the customs.

Shipping from the UK to the EU
  • Items shipped from the UK to the EU will be treated as exports, and will therefore be exempt from UK VAT.
  • VAT will have to be charged at the local rate of VAT of the country of import.
  • Two possibilities exist for a transaction:
  • DDP (Delivery Duty Paid): the customer pays the VAT (of the country the item is being shipped to) at the time of order.
  • DAP (Delivery At Place): the courier pays the VAT, then the customer is liable to repay the VAT payments after the item has been shipped
  • There will not be any customs or taxes charged upon returns.

In conclusion, the main issue is to be properly registered with the UK authorities in order to sell products in this country.

For UK players wishing to export to the EU, the most direct way to comply with each country’s tax constraints is to implement the DDP on sales.

These are some useful references covering the wide range of VAT and customs issues for trade between the EU and the UK.

  • News concerning VAT: uk
  • Customs guidebook:

These changes have had direct business consequences for online sellers in the Stockly network, mainly because of the new uncertainty over accounting and taxes topics.