Duty free sales to UK travellers set to revive on hard Brexit, industry told

By Luke Barras-hill |

Brexit-UK-EUUK-bound travellers from Europe will be able to enjoy duty and tax free sales on 1 November should a ‘no deal’ Brexit take place, says the European Travel Retail Confederation (ETRC).

The DF&TR industry had received a strong message in November from the EU that travellers to the UK would be able to purchase tax and duty free in such a scenario.

Despite this, key pieces of legislation on the UK side still require amending for EU-bound travellers from the UK to benefit from the allowances.

Following meetings in Brussels yesterday (4 September) with the European Commission to discuss the implications of a hard Brexit, the ETRC has confirmed the current position regarding a restoration of sales and says its members should plan accordingly.

ETRC Secretary General Julie Lassaigne alongside ETRC President Nigel Keal

ETRC Secretary General Julie Lassaigne and President Nigel Keal.


As is established, should the UK crash out of Europe having failed to reach a deal it would assume ‘third country’ status under international law, opening the door for a return of duty free.

If a deal is struck, under the current arrangement a transition period is set to apply before sales are reinstated.

ETRC President Nigel Keal stated: “In Brussels, the European Commission reiterated its earlier position that duty and tax free sales will be allowed for all passengers to the UK from November 1st in the event of a hard Brexit.

“Furthermore the European Commission strongly advised us to prepare for lengthy delays and holdups for the delivery of stock in the immediate post-Brexit period and we must therefore plan accordingly.

“We still do not know what the situation will be for duty and tax free sales from the UK but UKTRF is engaging with the relevant government departments. Given the time it takes to prepare for this, we urge the UK government to give us clarity as soon as possible.”

During the meetings, the EC also advised ‘particular care’ on the order and delivery of goods shipped to/from the UK before 31 October, as changes to customs rules and procedures will pose ‘considerable difficulties’.


On a separate but equally important note, emergency legislation guaranteeing airline slots for UK-bound flights will be extended until October 2020 to give an extra year to find a long-term solution to airline market access.

Cross-party opposition to Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s plan for the UK to leave the EU with or without a deal by 31 October has intensified in recent weeks.

Yesterday, he lost a bid to call a general election on 15 October after MPs voted to take control of the Parliamentary agenda to stave off the prospect of a no deal.

For a detailed interview with the ETRC’s President Nigel Keal and Secretary General Julie Lassaigne, watch out for the October issue of TRBusiness, available from the press racks during the TFWA World Exhibition and Conference.

Click here to see the latest episode of Travel Retail Question Time, a new and unique open forum for industry discussion, to hear more on the Brexit situation from ETRC Secretary General Julie Lassaigne.



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