If you've been planning to make an online purchase from the UK, whether it's a one-of-a-kind piece of furniture, an item of clothing or something from one of your favourite British brands, the UK's official exit from the European Union will have several implications for you. Although they may not be as severe as some had anticipated.
The contents of the Brexit deal were unknown up until the last minute, and what has been delivered has managed to protect vital trade channels between Europe and the UK – and, in turn, the flow of goods between the UK and the US.
The great news is that if you're ordering from the UK, prices will not go up now that the UK has departed the EU; no tariffs or quotas have been added onto goods moving between UK and EU, so pricing will remain exactly the same
- See: Best cordless vacuum cleaners – the top cable-free stick cleaners for all budgets
'After years of campaigning for zero-tariff trade, we welcome the announcement of a free-trade agreement between the UK and EU. This protects consumers on both sides of the Channel from billions in import tariffs on everyday goods,' said Helen Dickinson Chief Executive of the British Retail Consortium, who welcomed the news of a free-trade deal between the UK and the EU in a statement.
So far so good. But what about the VAT-free shopping that was, for many years, a draw for US tourists looking to save on more expensive items by buying them in the UK or Europe in person? There's a mixture of good and bad news on this front: the bad news is that the VAT Retail Export Scheme – the one where you could claim back the UK VAT tax back by filling out a form at the airport – has officially ended. This effectively ends tax-free shopping for Americans visiting the UK.
The scheme was deemed to be too costly to keep by the UK government, with critics saying that it may well have been cancelled because the UK would've had to extend it to EU citizens after Brexit under World Trade Organisation rules. This would have meant processing a huge number of tax return claims the Treasury wouldn't have been able to cope with.
The good news is that US shoppers will still be able to make VAT-free purchases from the UK if the seller ships directly to their address, as stated in the official Gov.uk statement. In other words, if you're shopping online, you'll still get your purchase minus the 20 per cent VAT sales tax.
You'll also still be able to bring back your coveted tax-free purchase in a suitcase with you if you make it in Northern Ireland, which has not ended its VAT Retail Export Scheme due to the proximity to Ireland, which is in the EU. But, it will be a good while before any of us resume the leisurely trips that result in duty-free purchases, so, for now, online shopping it is.
Speaking of which, we would advise checking with whoever you're buying from that the delivery service they're using is running and won't be delayed too badly because of coronavirus.
Anna Cottrell is Consumer Editor across Future Plc Home titles. She has a background in academic research and is the author of London Writing of the 1930s. She writes about interior design, property, and gardening.
Dining room color ideas – 12 paint inspiration shades, from neutrals to navy
Dare to be different with your dining room color ideas, and create an unforgettable atmosphere for your guests
By Thea Babington-Stitt •
32 kitchen lighting ideas – to set the scene for cooking, eating and entertaining
Our kitchen lighting ideas and expert advice offer cleverly planned illumination inspiration that will bring your room out of the shadows
By Ailis Brennan •
Farrow & Ball’s new collection with Liberty London is a celebration of timeless British patterns and colors
The most fashionable collaboration of the season has revealed itself in the shape of beautiful paint colors and fabrics
By Megan Slack •
Sherwin-Williams 2022 Color of the Year combines two of the most popular tones – and we predict that it will be huge
When two of the most sought-after hues come together, it’s a match made in interior design heaven
By Megan Slack •
Hayley Williams' home in Nashville is a modern Mid-century masterpiece
The Paramore star is parting with one of her quirkily designed Tennessee homes
By Anna Cottrell •
Marie Kondo reveals her favorite room to organize – and her secret to staying motivated in challenging spaces
Even the queen of organization has her favorite spaces to clean – here she shares her secrets with H&G
By Marc Lupo •
Introducing ‘Bootilities’: The trend that prioritizes practicality without sacrificing style
What are bootilities and why do you need one in your home? This is what you need to know, according to the experts
By Megan Slack •
WIN a wood-burning stove worth £1,995 in our Contura competition
Get your home ready for colder months ahead with this fabulous competition prize from Contura and Period Living
By Melanie Griffiths •
8 of the best places to buy property in Europe – for your next vacation home
These are some of the best places to buy a second home in Europe, according to real estate experts
By Ruth Doherty •
WIN a VAX Total Cleaning System worth over £1,000 in Roost episode 12
Roost episode 12 is full of great advice, like what the best bed sheets are, how to plant succulents and you could WIN a VAX Total Cleaning System worth over £1000
By Jenny McFarlane •