Duty Free to the EU is Back

LNW-GW Joint

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Haven't seen this mentioned elsewhere.
The government has published new rules for Duty Free from 1 January 2021, to bring EU travel in line with non-EU travel.
Duty Free will now apply to EU as well as non-EU journeys, at new higher levels than currently.
The units vary but it's 18 litres of still wine, 9 litres of champagne/port etc, 4 litres of spirits, or 42 litres of beer.
Any other goods - £390 worth (I think this is the same as now for non-EU travel).
Other details in the link below.

However, you won't be able to get a refund of the VAT you might have paid in a shop.
Nor will you be able to bring any amount of tax-paid goods from the EU as you can now under the single market, only the specific allowances quoted.

So Eurostar, the ferries and the short-haul airlines will now be offering duty free facilities where none have existed for 25 years or more.
British passengers travelling to EU countries will be able to take advantage of duty-free shopping from January 2021, bringing our approach to the EU in line with the rest of the world.
This means that passengers will be able to buy duty-free alcohol and tobacco products, where available, in British ports, airports, and international train stations, and aboard ships, trains and planes.
So, swings and roundabouts.
Shops that make a lot of money from VAT-refunds to non-UK residents will be hit by the changes.
Doesn't apply in NI, at least for the moment.
 
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Bald Rick

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So I won’t be able to bring back 150 bottles of wine from France after a holiday?

Another benefit of Bre*it.
 

Tetchytyke

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The limits on tobacco are as now, though, which means the days of stocking up on cheap tabs in Europe are gone. I can't imagine @Butts being happy!

As with most Br*x*t things, a bad thing is being advertised as a good thing.

As for the effect on international travel, I suspect it will be limited. The ferry companies in the channel may well be pleased. Other than that...
 

JonasB

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The limits on tobacco are as now, though, which means the days of stocking up on cheap tabs in Europe are gone. I can't imagine @Butts being happy!

As with most Br*x*t things, a bad thing is being advertised as a good thing.

As for the effect on international travel, I suspect it will be limited. The ferry companies in the channel may well be pleased. Other than that...
I don't want to get in to a political debate, this is the wrong forum for that. But I really hope this can lead to the return of ferries between Scandinavia and the UK! Being able to sell tax free alcohol onboard might make them a bit more profitable.

Moderator note: regarding Brexit, can we not have any further mention of the wider issue that is Brexit in this particular thread please? It has been done to death in other threads; any such discussion belongs in General Discussion.

Also we do welcome any discussion of whether or not this may lead to the return of ferries; this could either be posted in Speculative Ideas or the Other Transport section.
 
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biko

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Two questions I find interesting:
1. Does it not depend on what type of deal there will (not) be? If there is a deal with free trade and potentially a customs union, duty free is not possible. So maybe this announcement is already a prediction of how far-reaching the deal will be.
2. How will Eurostar cope with the customs? There will be a need to check and I think there is sufficient space at St Pancras, but how will they do it at the EU side? Most stations are open, so currently no problem importing way too many.
 

Tetchytyke

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But I really hope this can lead to the return of ferries between Scandinavia and the UK! Being able to sell tax free alcohol onboard might make them a bit more profitable.
It won't make much difference, all in all. Low-cost airlines did for North Sea ferries, not the end of duty free. It'll be a bit of a revenue stream for Dover-Calais and, potentially, Cainryan-Larne and Holyhead-Dublin (depending on what happens), but not a game changer. Even in "duty free" days a lot of stuff was cheaper duty-paid in France than it was duty-free on the boat, and I doubt much will change in that regard.

You don't see duty free making much difference to Condor Ferries.
 

LNW-GW Joint

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Eurostar will have to find room for a duty free shop in its terminals (and perhaps on its trains?).
Less room for passengers, more scope for delay at customs.
 

py_megapixel

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Eurostar will have to find room for a duty free shop in its terminals (and perhaps on its trains?).
Less room for passengers, more scope for delay at customs.
At St Pancras they could probably kick out WH Smith. So they're replacing one bad option with another.
 

Philip Phlopp

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Ah well.

I can't relocate to the EU quite as easily (though with a 2 letters before my name and 13 after at the last count, it ain't a problem for me) but I can drown my sorrows for a couple of quid less, so that's all OK. Oh no, wait, the pound will tank and it'll still end up more expensive even with no duty.

I feel really bloody sorry for those poor sods off to college/university this year. No future, a bent government and a mountain of debt.
 

superjohn

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How much duty free is a Eurostar passenger going to be able to carry? The ferries currently offer french duty paid fags and booze in their shops but their passengers are mostly in vehicles and able to buy in bulk. I suspect the limited retail space in Eurostar terminals and trains can be more profitably used for overpriced food, drink and tourist tat. If the ‘duty free’ market was worth it Eurostar would already be following the french duty paid model.
At St Pancras they could probably kick out WH Smith. So they're replacing one bad option with another.
I could be wrong but I think WH Smith has already gone from the Eurostar waiting area.
 

BayPaul

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I really hope this can lead to the return of ferries between Scandinavia and the UK! Being able to sell tax free alcohol onboard might make them a bit more profitable.
It won't make much difference, all in all. Low-cost airlines did for North Sea ferries, not the end of duty free. It'll be a bit of a revenue stream for Dover-Calais and, potentially, Cainryan-Larne and Holyhead-Dublin (depending on what happens), but not a game changer. Even in "duty free" days a lot of stuff was cheaper duty-paid in France than it was duty-free on the boat, and I doubt much will change in that regard.

You don't see duty free making much difference to Condor Ferries.
Also, duty free has been possible on ferries to Norway (and Sweden with a call en-route in Kristiansand) all along. Both of those routes disappeared since duty free did.

Duty free makes a tiny difference on long routes - who's going to take 48 hours to get a couple of bottles of alcohol!

Having spoken to ferry operators, they are almost completely indifferent about this, the market has changed completely since the loss of duty free, and any small increase in on board revenue will be roughly offset by the reduced numbers heading off to fill their cars with cheap French wine!
 
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The WHSmith at St Pancras has indeed gone and become a Prets (although I'm not sure it's open at present). But Duty Free was never of much interest in the UK to Europe direction, only v.v., since it was high UK duty rates that were the issue. Once on the continent (but outside Scandinavia!) duty was much cheaper anyway and it seems unlikely that the French and Belgian authorities would want to open customs checks for this purpose. By far the biggest issue is building the cross-Channel market up again post Covid. With both France and Belgium requiring quarantines, no one much is using Eurostar, Eurotunnel or ferries for non-essential journeys. A little income from duty free is not going to make much difference!
Without wanting to be too political, it is straight out of Gulliver's Travels to have a situation where a government wants make noise about opening up an exemption (for international travellers) from what in reality are its own very high taxes. You may recall that at various times retailers and publicans in Kent have became so seriously concerned about the disparity in tax rates on alcohol between the UK and France that they lobbied for a lower duty rates for the 'Garden of England'.
Anyway, it's duty frees on the Cairnryan ferry that I'm waiting for.... !
 

James James

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2. How will Eurostar cope with the customs? There will be a need to check and I think there is sufficient space at St Pancras, but how will they do it at the EU side? Most stations are open, so currently no problem importing way too many.
Can be done exactly the same way that customs is handled on trains from Switzerland to EU and vice-versa, or trains for Norway to EU and vice-versa. Open stations, spot-checks, a box to declare and customs offices at some stations. To be fair, there's no "duty free" there but close enough.

But presumably customs is also done wherever French etc. immigration is performed. And the French could just say no to duty free on the train, or force charging of French duties.
 

Journeyman

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As a non-smoker, extremely moderate drinker and non-perfume-user, you'll have to excuse me for saying "whoop-de-effing-do" to this. Hardly worth becoming a failed state for, is it?
 

LNW-GW Joint

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As a non-smoker, extremely moderate drinker and non-perfume-user, you'll have to excuse me for saying "whoop-de-effing-do" to this. Hardly worth becoming a failed state for, is it?
But think of all the jobs-worth non-jobs that will be needed to administer it all.
The Dover MP (the one which wants refugee boats towed back to France) says the jobs are essential.
The rest of us will just pay for the bureaucracy.
I can't be bothered with duty free these days, even on long haul where it's available.
It's not worth the bother of carrying it all.
 

XAM2175

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But presumably customs is also done wherever French etc. immigration is performed. And the French could just say no to duty free on the train, or force charging of French duties.
Since the juxtaposed controls are already established for immigration checks it seems likely that they will be expanded to perform customs checks too, in which case on-board duty free is probably unlikely given that under such an arrangement passengers would clear both sets of controls before boarding the train.

The availability and utilisation of space at both ends of the Eurostar "core" will be a major question for immigration controls too, since the end of the freedom of movement will mean a need for a full immigration check for all passengers at at least one end.
 

mmh

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As if anyone's going to be thrilled about duty free returning. Back to the bad old days of booze cruises...no thanks.
Great couple of TV films, though. Anyone wanting a booze cruise experience these days can move to Scotland or Wales and have a day trip to Carlisle or Chester!
 

JonasB

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Duty free makes a tiny difference on long routes - who's going to take 48 hours to get a couple of bottles of alcohol!
Plenty of people do it on the Baltic sea. While it won't solve the problem, it might help. Combined with an increased environmental awareness (as can be seen in the expansion of Nightjet) some routes, maybe Esbjerg-Harwich, might return. Even if it is a small chance.
 

BayPaul

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Plenty of people do it on the Baltic sea. While it won't solve the problem, it might help. Combined with an increased environmental awareness (as can be seen in the expansion of Nightjet) some routes, maybe Esbjerg-Harwich, might return. Even if it is a small chance.
I'm sorry to be a downer, but I would say zero chance of Esbjerg. DFDS have minimal interest on restarting pax operations, and commercial operators would only start something like that with the certainty of good profits in the medium term, unlike nationalised companies that could consider a loss. Duty free's impact on that equation is minimal. The issue with long routes and duty free is you still need to provide and staff a decent sized shop, but can only sell one allowance per day per pax. Obviously it is worth doing for a baltic cruise ferry with 2000 pax on board, but for a 500 pax ropax it is probably little better than break even
 

43096

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It won't make much difference, all in all. Low-cost airlines did for North Sea ferries, not the end of duty free.
Exactly that. I remember as a kid going on holiday to Denmark, driving from Cheshire to Harwich for the boat. A lot easier and cheaper now to get easyJet and hire a car when there.
 

BayPaul

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It probably will mean that foot passenger tickets will return to Dover routes, as foot passengers will become significantly more profitable (ie will move from barely break even to worth having)
 

Y Ddraig Coch

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I used to get a night ferry over to Holyhead , stock up on the way there and on the way back (same ferry there and back) I would swop my boarding passes with the Irish guys buying all the fags and I bought all the booze had a great night out on the boat and was back home in bed by 10.30 ish the next morning.

Good times and will look forward to giving it a whirl again.......if there are any boat trains put back on, as they do not meet the boats at an helpful time really these days.
 

cactustwirly

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It probably will mean that foot passenger tickets will return to Dover routes, as foot passengers will become significantly more profitable (ie will move from barely break even to worth having)
No, foot passengers are very low on the priorities for ferry companies, they're after the more lucrative freight and car market.
 

Bald Rick

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Let’s be honest : who, apart from a few people who live near Dover, is going to get to Dover, get to the ferry terminal, and pay for a ferry ticket, just to save about £40 on 200 fags?
 

ChiefPlanner

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How much duty free is a Eurostar passenger going to be able to carry? The ferries currently offer french duty paid fags and booze in their shops but their passengers are mostly in vehicles and able to buy in bulk. I suspect the limited retail space in Eurostar terminals and trains can be more profitably used for overpriced food, drink and tourist tat. If the ‘duty free’ market was worth it Eurostar would already be following the french duty paid model.

I could be wrong but I think WH Smith has already gone from the Eurostar waiting area.

When we were free and easy (pre children) , my wife and I managed to carry back (each) - about 18 bottles of red wine each - in a combo of a good rucksack - 2 wooden boxes with handles of 6 each (one n each hand) , plus food from the supermarket at Lille (close to the station) - to St Albans - in those days - EPS to Waterloo- drop back to London Bridge , forward to SAC (arrive platform 4 on a fast - and the obliging station staff unlocked the side gate to the car park for a level walk to the car)

So the answer is , quite a lot can be carried with a will. We were younger then.
 

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