Grasp ‘Brexit-generated opportunity’ for full tax and duty free regime, UK told

By Luke Barras-hill |

The Brexit transition period ends on New Year’s Eve (31 December).

The post-Brexit trade agreement between the UK and EU offers travel retailers ‘a degree of certainty’ regarding new rules, says the UK Travel Retail Forum (UKTRF).

As reported, the UK and EU struck a trade deal on Christmas Eve to avert a no-deal withdrawal in a move that ushers in a tariff-free and quota-free trading regime from 11pm GMT on Thursday (31 December).

A bill approved by UK Parliament in the past 24 hours has sealed the UK-EU Trade and Cooperation Agreement into law after the deal was signed by EU leaders.

In a statement provided to TRBusiness, François Bourienne, Chair, UKTRF said: “The UK Travel Retail Forum welcomes the conclusion of the Trade and Cooperation Agreement between the UK and the EU.

François Bourienne, Chair, UKTRF.


“The full effects and consequences of the deal will not be understood for some time yet, but the text now offers travel retailers a degree of certainty regarding movement of goods and passengers for 2021.”

The return of duty free shopping between the UK and EU has been welcomed by travel retail as it eyes the gradual recovery of international air travel.

However, UK ministers continue to face pressure to reverse the decision to abolish VAT-free sales (aside liquor and tobacco).

“A full duty and VAT free system would be not only a tremendous support to all airports and ports looking to recover from the worst of 2020 but is also a Brexit-generated opportunity that the UK can seize immediately,” added Bourienne.

“We will therefore continue to make our case with ministers and civil servants in early 2021.”

TRBusiness launched a petition challenging the decision to remove the extra-statutory concession at airports and VAT Retail Export Scheme and urges all readers to sign by clicking the link below.

Changes to customs rules for travellers entering the UK (England, Wales and Scotland) from non-EU countries means passengers will now benefit from a generous increase in their inbound personal allowances (see below table).

They will be able to buy duty free alcohol and tobacco, where available, at British ports, airports, international train stations, onboard shops, trains and airlines.

Source: HM Treasury.

This includes 42 litres of beer, 18 litres of wine, 200 cigarettes, 50 cigars and a duty free allowance on other goods of up to £390 (£270 for those travelling by boat or airline).

Those entering the EU from a non-EU country are entitled to a duty free allowance covering four litres of still wine, 16 litres of beer, one litre of spirits and other liquors over 22%, two litres of fortified wine (i.e port and sherry), sparkling wine and alcoholic drinks up to 22%, 200 cigarettes, 100 cigarillos, 50 cigars or 250g of tobacco.


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