Recent events have seen the end of the Brexit transitionary period, which consequently caused issues for mail, packages, and goods transported from the UK, and since the UK no longer forms part of the EU’s single market and customs union, new rules apply…
Adrian Vassallo, MaltaPost’s Chief Operations Officer shared, ‘all items containing items of value, bought or despatched from the UK after 31 December 2020, may be inspected by local Customs authorities and any VAT, Duties and applicable processing fees may be charged depending on the value of the items themselves and the shipping costs incurred.’
He continued explaining, ‘For items arriving from the UK where the item value is greater than €22, VAT (currently at 18% except for books where VAT rate is 5%) needs to be paid. The VAT threshold for gifts is set to €45 instead of €22. Additionally, if the item value exceeds €150, customs’ duty is to be paid if the item was manufactured outside the EU and outside the UK.’ So, if the item was manufactured in the UK, it will likely not be subject to customs’ duty.
Photo: The Malta Independent
The Customs Department added to this, stating, ‘if goods originate in the UK, one may be able to claim a preferential rate of duty when these are imported into Malta and released for free circulation. This means they’ll be free (or benefit from a reduced rate) of Customs Duty. VAT will still be due on import. To claim preferential rates of duty, the imported product must originate in the UK (as the exporting country).’
Vassallo also explained that a Customs’ processing fee will be charged by the postal operator to cover costs of customs’ clearance process, ‘It must however also be registered that UK sellers may reduce the 20% VAT at checkout if the item is to be exported outside the UK.’
Meanwhile, MaltaPost is monitoring the market daily ‘and it is still too early to reach certain conclusions. We do expect to experience a shift in the consumer behaviour by witnessing more orders from EU-based websites’.
Naturally, due to the pandemic, many packages are also delayed, ‘…whereas a few months ago the national airline used to fly over three times a day to the UK, today there are only three flights in a week. This greatly reduced air cargo carrying capacity is creating delays as there is more demand than capacity…’
However, Vassallo reassured that ‘MaltaPost is well organised, manned and equipped to handle the extensive operational changes that had to be implemented at the end of the transition period, given that we receive and send mail and parcels to both EU and non-EU countries…That said, the delivery of items from the UK to Malta may take longer as there is an additional step i.e. the local Customs inspection process.’
Meanwhile, ‘If a Maltese seller or company is sending an item valued between 0 GBP and 135 GBP, the Maltese seller needs to have a UK EORI number and must charge the UK buyer the UK VAT during the purchase process. The seller will then be required to declare the UK VAT with HMRC (UK Customs). For items whose value is greater than 135 GBP, UK VAT is paid by the addressee in the UK. Letters, postcards and documents are usually exempt.’
‘MaltaPost is now obliged to transmit the customs’ related information electronically to Royal Mail. This information must be compiled in an appropriate format prior to despatch to include information such as what their value is, who the sender and receiver are etc. To speed up the process and to avoid spending unnecessary time at the Maltapost Post Offices, one can also declare their items from the comfort of their home or office by following this link www.maltapost.com/sendyouritem.’.
As explained by Franco Azzopardi, CEO of transport and logistics operator Express trailers, ‘…anything being imported by a Maltese business from the UK, will, save for particular cases depending on the country of origin (manufacture) of the goods being the UK, have to be levied with duty by the Customs authorities…in this case the UK seller, has to prepare all documentation and upload information to digital systems that have been implemented as part of Brexit…’
Photo: The Malta Independent
‘We too are now burdened with dutiable cargo, crossing the border from the UK into the EU, with all the passes and checks just like travellers will have to undergo at the airport when entering the EU…To top it all off, the British have also changed the ‘cabotage’ rules – which is basically nothing more than a protectionist approach for the British hauliers (a similar rule exists for us in Europe). Whereas in the EU we can only make 3 stops (collections or drop-offs) in a particular country within 7 days, the UK has tightened this to 2 stops in 7 days. This continues to add to the compendium of difficulties logistics is going through and facing.’
Basically, if you’ve ordered anything from the UK last December, expect heavy delays and if you’ve ordered certain packages from the UK this January, then you may experience additional costs.