To the surprise of many, the UK finally bid adieu to the rest of the EU on the 31st of January 2020. With an au revoir, adios and a see you later, EU buyers and sellers were plunged into uncertainty and confusion. Stories and rumours emerged of buyers being charged extortionate surcharges on EU purchases due to sudden VAT, customs and import charges. Companies even moved headquarters in line with new legislation. Brexit was disruptive and a big deal, but now that all the dust has settled, here are the three main things that have changed in the last few years that you need to know about as an EU or UK seller.
1. Online marketplaces now collect VAT rather than their sellers
On the 21st of July 2021, a new set of EU VAT rules came into effect. Imports under the value of €22 are no longer exempt from paying VAT, meaning that VAT now applies to the sales of all goods regardless of the sale amount. If that doesn’t create enough extra work for you, know that the rate of VAT to be paid is also different for each country depending on the country you are selling to and not from. That’s right, the rate of VAT to be paid is no longer charged based on the country you are selling from as it used to be but is now based on the location of the buyer.
For Amazon sellers or if you sell through any other online marketplace, a bit of good news, VAT liability (collecting and reporting) for all sales under the value of €150 in EU countries now falls on the marketplace rather than the third-party sellers using it; this is both domestically and to other EU countries. If you sell exclusively through online marketplaces, you may not have to worry about VAT anymore, as marketplaces like Amazon and eBay should take care of it for you.
One final thing to note is that VAT should now be charged at the point of sale; this ensures that buyers will not be hit with any hidden charges at their end when receiving their items. It would be worthwhile to learn more about the IOSS (Import One-Stop Shop) or the OSS (One-Stop Shop) schemes which help you manage the charging of your VAT.
2. Amazon FBA UK-EU cross-border fulfilment
At the time of Brexit, Amazon announced it would no longer support UK-EU fulfilment through FBA. This meant that sellers could no longer run just one business from one location and have Amazon deliver the goods cross-border to buyers for you. You needed an account and inventory in the UK and the EU to sell to both regions. However, in March 2022, Amazon announced the reactivation of their European Fulfilment Network (EFN), music to your ears, as you can now fulfil cross-border orders with FBA inventory stored in your home fulfilment centre again, subject to EFN fee changes.
If you haven’t already done so, do check out the BIL (Build International Listings) tool in the ‘Sell Globally’ section of your inventory. There, you will find everything you need to set up and sell across different regions with ease; you’ll wonder how you ever managed without this.
3. Every company now needs an EORI number to sell and move goods between the UK and other EU countries
An EORI number is an Economic Operators Registration and Identification number, and you will need to register for this number if your business does any of the following:
- Importing or exporting of goods between Great Britain (England, Scotland and Wales) or the Isle of Man and any other country (including the EU).
- Importing or exporting of goods between Northern Ireland and countries outside the EU.
The EORI number will allow you to appoint a 3rd party to deal with customs for you, make customs declarations, use customs systems or apply for a customs decision.
To successfully obtain an EORI number, you will usually have to establish or base your business either in the country you are selling from or the country you are selling to. Making sure you obtain the correct type of EORI number depends on a few factors:
- Whether you are moving goods to or from the UK.
- If you are transporting goods to or from Northern Ireland.
- If your business will be making declarations or getting a customs decision in the EU.
Getting yourself familiar with the above rules and regulations will help you to be fully prepared for when you go for your next pot of cross-currency gold, but if you feel you would rather hand over the maintenance of these admin-heavy issues to professionals with a lot of experience and expertise, people who are always up to date on all the latest developments, then please do get in touch with us here. We at eCommerce Nurse are a team of Amazon experts with many years of experience in helping our clients grow and sell; we will take care of everything for you so that you may enjoy running and growing the other aspects of your business.