What Brexit means for physical music fans in the UK and the EU

SDE does its best to understand how things will change

Today is the last day of the UK’s ‘transition period’ with the European Union and tomorrow the UK is no longer part of the EU. Since a global marketplace exists online for physical music, how exactly is Brexit – the UK’s departure from the EU – going to affect fans in the UK who shop online via businesses in EU member states (Germany, France, Italy etc.) and in turn, how will it affect those in the EU who choose to shop from UK-based businesses?

First, a proviso. The new rules are extremely complex and businesses in the UK and the EU are struggling to get to grips with it. The UK Government is literally still working some aspects out, so there are grey areas, and the below is SDE’s best interpretation of the current situation for the physical music consumer.

People in the UK, who buy in Europe

Let’s start with people who live in the UK. Perhaps you occasionally shop via JPC in Germany or some of the international Amazon sites, or another favourite online retailer in Europe. What exactly changes?

First off, the UK Government negotiated a free trade agreement with the EU so there are no additional tariffs due when the goods you order from the EU enter the UK. That’s the positive news. The bad news is that if you are ordering from the EU, VAT (Valued Added Tax, or what Americans called ‘sales tax’) is now due on the item since the UK now sits outside the EU and the Customs Union and previous VAT arrangement no longer apply.

There is a two-layered approach to VAT on goods coming into the UK (not including Northern Ireland, which is different) from the EU:

If the ‘consignment’ (so that would be everything in your total order, most likely including shipping) does not exceed £135 in value, then the liability is with the supplier to collect this VAT at the point of sale. So anything under £135, that you buy from Europe, will not be held up at UK customs, so long as the supplier (the shop were you bought the item) has filled in the customs declaration correctly (everything coming into the UK from the EU and vice versa now requires a CN22 or CN23 customs form, properly filled out).

However, if your supplier has to collect this VAT at the point of sale, that means more administration for that supplier and therefore, potentially, additional costs, which may be passed on to you, the consumer. And the prices of the goods will almost certainly increase in line with this additional VAT (which is 20 percent for the UK).

Amazon are likely to use their ‘import fees deposit’ system on European sites to deal with this. For example, if you buy a box set worth €50 you will likely have an additional line item of €10 to cover their liability for the VAT). You will have to factor this in to any future ‘deals’ in Europe. But other than that, nothing much changes and you won’t be worrying about getting a note from Royal Mail, or Parcelforce, saying that you owe €10 in VAT (or the Sterling equivalent) plus an £8 or £11 ‘admin’ fee and that they won’t deliver your order until you pay up.

If you are wondering where the £135 figure comes from, this aligns with the threshold for relief from customs duty, the idea being that it minimises the impact on customs procedures (anything over £135 in the USA that is imported into the UK is liable for customs duty and VAT).

Another thing to point out is that something called the ‘Low Value Consignment Relief’ has been scrapped. This had previously meant no VAT was due on consignments of goods valued at £15 or less. So now, if you buy something worth less than £15, the European store you buy from is legally obliged to add and collect the VAT.

What about consignments from the EU worth more than £135 in value?

For orders worth more than £135 there is no liability with the EU seller to pay the VAT upfront. Your EU supplier might choose to pay it upfront anyway, which offers you the reassurance of the goods not being stopped at customs (assuming the customs declaration is correctly filled out), or they might not. This is something you will have to keep an eye on and is likely to cause confusion.

People in Europe, who buy in the UK

The rules appear to be different for this scenario. While there is no customs duty liable for good arriving in the EU from the UK, VAT is due at your local country rate at the point of import, not the point of sale. It seems that there is no obligation for UK sellers to pay VAT upfront for EU buyers, whether the order is under £135 or not. Unless explicitly stated on product listings, it’s best to assume you’ll be expected to pay VAT when the item arrives in the EU country where you live.

What about Northern Ireland?

What the UK government are calling ‘the Northern Ireland protocol’ is extremely complicated and SDE will not even try to make sense of it. The UK Gov website still states the following: “the government continues to work through the implications of the Northern Ireland Protocol, including in relation to VAT and excise. The government is committed to providing guidance on how the Northern Ireland Protocol will work ahead of the end of the transition period”.

I hope this has been of some help. This post will be updated as and when necessary. Feel free to discuss the situation in the comments section, but please note that no comments will be published that turns the discussion into a political debate. Let’s keep to specifically to facts, advice, how it might change your shopping habits, links to useful articles etc.

144 responses to What Brexit means for physical music fans in the UK and the EU

  1. SimonH says:

    Good article in the Guardian today, the VAT issue is in part down to Brexit, because we are no longer in the EU wide VAT system, this means the EU no longer validates UK VAT numbers and that’s why VAT needs to be collected at point of sale not at the point of importation.
    So EU companies have to register for UK VAT.
    Various companies have as a result decided to stop shipping to the UK.

    • Stephen Bennett says:

      I purchased an LP from Townsend records in the Uk online, I’ve been charged 26€ import Duty , I wasn’t aware of the charge and had to pay it or it would just sit at customs until I paid , the album only cost £28 , I had my others redirected to a postal address in the uk to post then via Royal Mail …

  2. SimonP2 says:

    Just sharing a experience of the new world and a question to all…
    I ordered 4 discs from Udiscover.de on Jan 4th (value about £110). I’m in the UK. I’ve ordered from them many times so I know the process. This order was the same as normal except the postage charge was higher as UK is no longer in EU. There was no mention of UK 20% Vat at checkout. It just showed total unit cost (presumably including German vat?)
    The parcel arrived this morning with a load of additional documents attached. Two commercial invoices and two copies of customs CN23. The commercial invoices just showed total unit cost also and the CN23 total cost. I dont see any fields where Vat is mentioned.
    My parcel wasnt looked at by customs and I wasnt asked for any additional payment. However, it feels as though I would have been charged on the full commercial value had it been looked at. Does anybody know if one of these fields shows whether Vat has been prepaid or not? If not, how does UK customs know when to levy additional charge or not? Thanks.

    • NN says:

      In the light of your post, I had a look at Udiscover.de.

      Looking through the listings, showed there was no consistency over pricing with the Udisciover in the UK – even taking into account an exchange rate of around 1.10 – some prices were higher and some lower than Udiscover.co.uk, some wildly different, either way!

      Did you pay in Euros or GBP? Just a thought, but if you paid in GBP, then maybe the conversion from Euros to GBP took into account the different VAT rates along with the card / exchange fees, which I think maybe around 3%, which is often made of a flat fee plus a percentage, although that may vary from bank / card issuer to another?

      I had a look at the postage charges. They do vary from country to country within the EU. Postage to the UK is actually cheaper than some other EU countries! Postage charges have been going up a lot across the world in the last few years.

  3. Mike says:

    How about the rules for importing into the UK from outside Europe, (USA, Australia, Japan etc)?

    Have they changed too, (someone told me they had scrapped the £15 or below exemption (see below), but I can’t seem to find the info anywhere?

    It used to be that anything with a total declared value, (including shipping), under £15 was exempt from import VAT & import duty; anything above £15 but below £135 was charged VAT but exempt from import duty, and anything over £135 charged both VAT and import duty.

  4. NN says:

    I posted this on another SDE discussion, but it would appear to be appropriate for this discussion too.

    I have purchased items from European record labels, e.g. Nuclear Blast and Frontiers Records for a few years. Items have generally been priced in Euros (inclusive of the local sales tax / VAT rate).

    When I have signed in / gone to the checkout, the VAT rate has been adjusted to the UK rate of 20%. I think Germany had a VAT rate of 19%?

    As far as Amazon is concerned, they have to collect VAT on items they sell. This is clearly noted on your email acknowledgement. I can’t speak for others, but that’s applied to purchases from the France, Germany and US that I have made.

    What will be interesting, is where some third party sellers are based outside the EU27. I guess that their prices have been lower due to the £15 low consignment tax relief?

    Although none of us like paying taxes, whether direct or not, paying a little bit of VAT on low cost items is hardly the end of the world! Nice whilst it lasted!

  5. SimonP2 says:

    One further thing – I posted a couple of days ago that EU countries had been removed from my Ebay Global Shipping listings on Ebay. They have been reinstated now – with the addition of Import fees to be collected. The net result is that on my old Kylie picture disc that I was selling for £40 – a potential French buyer would now have to pay additional Import fees of £12.83. I guess I wont be selling much to Europe anymore as my prices wont be too attractive

  6. Elliott Buckingham says:

    Im wondering if vinyl will get even more expensive with alot if the pressing plants being in the EU with the hit and miss quality that gz vinyl produces being the biggest and the best in Europe being pallas.

  7. Jonathan Goode says:

    Not sure if anyone is able to shed any more light on this but appears the plot thickens with JPC. I just tried to pre-order the upcoming Schiller album and had an error message ‘Derzeit keine Lieferungen in das ausgewählte Land möglich’ (Translation: We are currently unable to deliver to your country). I checked the terms and conditions of JPC and they say they only deliver to countries in the European Union (which of course the UK was until 5 days ago) so I’m not sure if this now means that JPC will no longer be an option for the UK.

    Similarly, I tried pre-ordering it on Amazon.de as well and that one ended up getting cancelled and again had issues with the ‘country’ field when trying to place a pre-order.

    Hopefully, it’s just sorting out some technical glitches and maybe a bit of clarification on how orders to the UK will be dealt with in the future as I do order a lot from Germany as I can’t get their music over here!

    Interested to see if others have had the same issues!!

    • SimonP2 says:

      Today’s observations

      Re JPC – My McCartney Blue vinyl arrived from JPC today (it is identical to the HMV blue by the way for those keeping score). The label has a posted date of Jan 2nd. There was no customs declaration on the package and no evidence that UK customs had reviewed it and therefore no request for additional payment. Just like the old days. I presume customs are operating some undeclared leeway period.

      Re Amazon.de – I had tried ordering a few items on New Years Day but got the “unable to ship to your destination” type message. Today, it accepted the order. There is a Vat marker on the final order page . If you click it and drill down, it shows VAT breakdown (I calculated at 20% rate). I looked back at my previous recent orders and they showed an amount equal to 16%. In general, the prices are slightly higher now as the lower German vat rate has now been replaced by the higher UK rate. I may eat my words if they cancel my order later, but for the moment, it looks hopeful for Amazon.de

    • Nick says:

      JPC No Longer Ship to the UK – Although they ship to the Rest of the world – they even Have Zaire down as a ship to Destination even though it has been known as The Republic of Congo since 1997

      You can see why they are stopping shipping to the UK thanks to HMRCs Pathetic New Rules – which no other country has in place – to think if the rest of the World took HMRC’s Stance – then JPC and every other worldwide company would have to keep additional / records/ Invoices / upfront tax payments for all customers from 194 Countries – instead of being paid at the border like before….. then Having to Jump through hoops to trade – nothing would be shipped anywhere!

  8. Babis13 says:

    Hello, couple of further questions please:
    1. Would it be safe to assume that for orders from amazon.co.uk to EU (i live in Greece) there should be no additional charges at the receiving end (e.g customs) other than the import fees amount added by amazon in the total order price?
    2. Is there any impact on UK magazines? I am subscriber in few of these like classic rock and also buy a lot more online.

  9. Ben Cook says:

    How are UK customs supposed to know whether UK VAT has been paid for a parcel based on a CN22 sticker? It doesn’t have any box to tick or anything on there that mentions it?

    • Paul Sinclair says:

      Because the seller has to pay it if it’s under £135.

    • kid992 says:

      It has a space for a UK VAT Number which all VAT registered businesses selling to the UK will have. At the end of the day its a customs declaration the equivalent of being asked at customs if you have “anything to declare”. Most of the time they will take that on trust but sometimes they will look in your bag (or your parcel) and if they find something isn’t right questions are likely to be asked.

      Its still buyer be aware on the internet. Any legitimate business will make it clear about their VAT position. You can always ask for their VAT number or a VAT invoice. You certainly need have no concerns regarding Amazon(and now Ebay). As stated previously the VAT on online marketplaces is due to be introduced across Europe so in that respect it would have happened it we had remained or left.

      • Ben Cook says:

        But a lot of sellers on eBay aren’t VAT registered companies, they’re just individuals? That’s why eBay will collect the VAT? But how will UK Customs know that eBay have done that?

        Or are they just going to trust that if they’ve put that the item is below £135 it’s been paid? I doubt?

        • kid992 says:

          Take look at the link I posted a little lower down if gives you an idea.It doesn’t seem to matter if you are registered for VAT or not from July 2021 all online marketplaces will have to collect VAT on online sales and it will be the same for all European online marketplaces.

          • Ben Cook says:

            But how will customs know that the item was bought via a marketplace, unless they open it up and the seller has chosen to print off an invoice (which doesn’t always happen)?

  10. Alan says:

    If I buy from Amazon marketplace on the UK site from a European seller it says VAT is included in the purchase price before you confirm the purchase. Does Amazon keep this % and pass it to the government or is it the seller who would confirm it has been paid and then pay it. The email receipt does not show VAT paid nor does the Invoice in my orders.

  11. dapaladi says:

    please note that in italy when you buy goods from not european countries you have to pay 22% vat (we call it iva) and custom to collect this amount charges 15 euro extra per shipment for this ‘work’.

  12. Mark H says:

    I wasn’t aware of the £15 VAT threshold in UK being removed. How did I miss that one? Is it January 1st or July 1st as I’ve seen both dates quoted? If it is January 1st, does that mean that two LPs I bought from Deepdiscount.com in USA for delivery to UK under £15 will now have VAT and admin fees added by Royal Mail? They got delivered by Hermes last time! Or because they were purchased before Jan 1st am I still okay???

  13. SimonP2 says:

    Slightly different angle this morning. I’m in UK and occassionally sell stuff on Ebay. I’m a private seller not a business. For overseas sales, I usually just set the marker to Ebay Global Shipping so Ebay deal with the shipping and I dont have to calculate how much it costs to sent an LP to Uganda etc..
    I was contacted by a potential buyer in France last night asking about shipping (item value was £40). I checked the listing and it appears that Ebay Global Shipping now excludes EU locations and gives a message “the buyer may ship to your territory. Please contact seller for details”.
    Anybody else had anything similar?

  14. Peter The Parrott says:

    When US buyers buy from UK and European Amazon sites, the VAT is taken off…. I assume this will be happening for UK buyers now, otherwise UK buyers will be paying VAT twice?

    • kid992 says:

      Peter if you are indeed American you are indeed lucky you do not have to concern yourself with VAT too much. You(as a person or anyone else) cannot pay VAT twice on the same item. But many different people can pay VAT on that same item. Don’t ask. VAT is one (if not the)most hated and invidious of taxes that is why people seek to avoid it… There is a famous businessmen that all SDE readers will know that was forced to make a repayment of purchase tax( the name of VAT before we joined the EU) in 1971.

      All the above is more or less is true. What follows is what I think is now going on. A lot of the changes we have seen on Ebay in the last few days are probably a result of this


      So what is going on (on the online marketplaces) is not a result of Brexit but the timing is. It seems online marketplaces have been on warning for a while. In 2018 they were made responsible for the VAT by the UK government, in 2021 they now have to collect it for the UK government. As far as I can see nobody from Europe has posted that UK Ebay items have gone up, that is because the European legislation has been delayed but it is coming. For all businesses that were charging VAT before prices will not go up(unless they increase prices to cover increased costs).

      The stories about undeclared tax on online marketplaces have been going since before the word Brexit was coined. It seems that the large amount of VAT not being paid by businesses who should be paying it is the stick that broke the camels back and forced the UK and Europe to act. As someone posted earlier it’s a little strange way to achieve their goals(rather crude) the most disreputable tax just got more disreputable. It might be considered the first implementation of a digital services tax.

      It should be noted that this move was and is welcomed by many UK businesses (who were being undercut by businesses who should have been paying VAT on online marketplaces but were not). Just like that record dealer was doing on Oxford Street all those years ago. Older UK SDE readers might remember a time at the turn of the century when most CDS seemed to come from the Channel Islands( that was a similar situation – but a loophole rather than illegal)

      So for UK buyers buying from online marketplaces in Europe bear this in mind the seller has not put up their prices. Neither will they make more money.The only people that will be seriously worse off are those people(businesses) that were illegally avoiding the VAT (I do not feel sorry for them). All that 20% “price increase” is tax going to the UK government. We need the money. Any more than that and it’s political and we do not go there!

  15. Francis H says:

    I’ve collected much of my music collection via used music Vendors. 2nd Hand Music dealers in the EU have removed available stock listings almost overnight, and has driven up prices for regional listings, as their prices are set to compete with one another for similar listings.

    ‘Momox’ who are based in Germany have withheld on their eBay UK, Amazon UK and own UK sales website listings. Their statement is:- “Important information – Due to Brexit, we have to discontinue our service on momox.co.uk for the moment! Open sales will be processed and you can still access your account.”

    For the past couple of years their Momox_UK store had free delivery and much of their CD’s under £2! Have scored some classic Editions and Rare EPs and even Box Sets in close to Mint condition, for a bargain price. They were much more hit than miss compared to their UK competitor MusicMagpie, who also operate their business in other territories.

  16. Rare Glam says:

    I understand the rise in prices for discs sent from UK to Europe or the other way round. I only buy CDs (I’m in Britain) and it does also seem that British released CD titles for sale within Britain are also going up because they are presumably pressed in Europe (Czech Republic?). I like a lot of the Cherry Red CD clam box sets and these are typically £19.99 for a 3 x CD and a booklet set. These are now all being offered at around £24 for new title pre-orders on Amazon UK. There’s one of these Cherry Red 3 x CD 60s various artists collections called ‘Halcyon Days’ released on 4th November this year which seems only already to be available from Amazon UK and one or two eBay sellers (sold aout at Cherry Red) and is £30 from all of them (odd it seems to have sold out so fast – perhaps a lot of mods will have recieved it as an Xmas present?). It was £20 on release.

    Going back to an earlier discussion this year about the future of physical format for music, this can’t bode well for the CD as a format, even less for the expensive modern vinyl sets as well. Will even more British small reisuers give up on physical formats now? Edsel or Ace, for instance?

  17. Burt says:

    Happy New Year everyone.

    I ordered that Beck Japanese import in the 7” box that Paul featured here a few weeks ago. I ordered it from JPC today informing me that they have refunded the total fee for that 2 other CD’s I ordered at the same time. I did have an email before but it was in German & don’t speak a word. Has anyone had a similar problem with JPC ? I suspect it is all what people are discussing here but I can’t be sure as I do not Speaken Ze Deutsch.

    • Alessandro says:

      You could paste copy their email here and I’ll help translate.
      Or you could paste copy it on deepl.com, it will do the translation for you ;)

      I think what’s happening isn’t war between the EU and the UK, it’s just uncertainty, and in the face of uncertainty you hold back. I for one won’t be buying stuff from the UK until everything is clear for everyone. It’s a crying shame but then I try not to buy stuff from outside the EU for the same reason: import duties are high, plus delivery times are long because the goods get stopped at the border… boring and expensive, but that’s how it has always been. The EU common market help more than we care to remember, with these things.
      Just my humble opinion.

    • That Wort says:

      If you have trouble with translating German or any other content, try pasting the text into an online translator (for example google translate). They seem to give fairly accurate results these days.

      • Burt says:

        Thanks those that replied. I did try the google translator but that wasn’t helpful from the text of the email that I received. I did receive 2 emails from the German company, one refunding me the the cost of the 3 CD’s & another refunding me something like 59 cents . That could account for a small percentage change in VAT (?) or something! Anyway, I reordered the Beck thing for still a bargain price of 39 Euros inc delivery & no email yet saying there’s a problem so fingers crossed. On Amazon Uk the same thing is 60 quid on its own & I’m not paying that, no matter how good it looks. Paul, grateful if you could publish this for people’s helpful advice & maybe they’ve had the same experience.

    • SimonP2 says:

      Hi – With regard to JPC. There is something strange going on. I had preordered the McCartney Blue vinyl and Target sleeve CD from them. They sent me an email on release date ( 18 December) saying shipping was delayed because of “logistic issues”. I then noticed some strange transactions on my credit card statement. They seemed to have cancelled the order, then recharged at a different – slightly higher – rate. This transaction was then cancelled next day and the original amount debited again. I then received an invoice from JPC (for original amount – showing paid). I have now received notification of shipment on 29th December.
      I think German VAT rate changed on Jan 1st? If you pre-ordered items at the lower VAT rate, possibly this may be the reason for your cancelled order?

      • Alessandro says:

        SimonP2 you are right, the German government had decreased VAT from the original 19% to 16% until the end of 2020 to help businesses in this difficult period. VAT has now gone back to 19%. This might explain the strange movements you are describing (although to be fair JPC should have warned you about it).

  18. MikeW says:

    Bought a used 5 Euro CD off a Discogs small seller from Germany. They did seem to push this out for despatch on 29/12/20, so hopefully HMRC/Customs here will look at the postage Franking Date on such small packages (as no customs sticker will have been completed, and no guarantee there will be any paperwork inside with a transaction date). Fingers crossed!

  19. Prince Fan says:

    A few CDs from overseas (EU and Azerbaijan) that I’m watching on eBay have shot up in price since yesterday.

    • Adam says:

      Snap. I’ve been watching a few vinyl on ebay from the EU and they shot up by 20/25% today. Also have recently paid for a couple of vinyl that have been held up by the lack of post from Europe due to the Covid variant, so I’m really not sure where I stand with those now.

  20. Alessandro says:

    Dear Paul and dear all,
    here is (presumably) how things actually stand:


    From 1st January 2021, with the UK no longer part of the European Union, our sales to customers in EU countries will be treated as exports and we will no longer collect VAT (sales taxes) on your behalf. Prices for CDs, DVDs, Blu-rays, Instruments and accessories displayed on the site will be proportionately lower to reflect this (Note – Sheet Music and Books are zero rated in the UK already, so prices on these products will not change).

    Orders under €22 in value
    If your order is under €22 in value (Including postage), and sent in the post you should receive it VAT free, ie. without having to pay any additional costs.

    Orders above €22 in value
    If your order is above €22 in value (including postage), you will be liable for import VAT at the time of delivery via the postal/courier service in your country (probably along with a one off clearance fee). The amount of the VAT payable will depend on how the items are classed for VAT in your country. The clearance fee rate will be set by the postal/courier company.
    The exact implementation of this is likely to vary across different postal services, and there may be some grace period for orders from the UK over the initial weeks and months in some countries, especially for items in transit on 1st January 2021.

    Unless items in your order have wildly different despatch estimates, we will generally ship all the items in your order together, and this will make up the value declared on the package. Please do not ask us to part ship orders in order to try and keep under the €22 limit. You are however welcome to place multiple smaller orders if you choose to do so.

    Didn’t the UK and EU sign a free-trade deal?
    Yes, but the UK-EU Free Trade deal agreed on December 24th 2020 means that duties will not be payable on the vast majority of goods moving between the UK and EU. However, duties and VAT are different things, and this does not impact on the VAT measures detailed above.

    Orders placed in 2020 but not delivered until 2021
    Sheet Music and Books are zero rated for VAT in the UK. Therefore no VAT has been charged on these orders. In line with the details above you will be liable for import VAT if your order is above €22 in value. However, there is no difference in our price to you whether the order was placed before or after December 31st 2020.
    CDs, DVDs, Blu-rays, Instruments and accessories ordered on or before 31st December 2020 will have included VAT (at 20%) in the price. Where these are not delivered until 2021 and the order value is above €22 there is the potential for you to be charged VAT twice. If this occurs please contact us with your order details and we will refund the VAT we had already collected, and remove it from our VAT declaration here in the UK. Please note that VAT rates vary across the EU, and as noted above you will likely have to pay a clearance fee as well, so the amount we are able to refund is likely to be lower than the amount you have to pay at the time of delivery.
    If you would rather cancel any items not yet despatched for a full refund please contact us and we will arrange this for you.

    From 1st July 2021
    From 1st July 2021 the system will change again: the €22 threshold will disappear completely, and prices displayed on the site will rise again as we collect the VAT at the time of sale and remit on your behalf to the tax authority in your country. This will apply to orders up to €150 in value (over 95% of the orders we receive from the EU are under this amount). We will look to clarify what will happen with the orders above €150 nearer the time of implementation. Overall, we look forward to this date as it will create a much simpler taxation system with no additional charges for the vast majority of orders. It is unfortunate that there is a six month gap between the UK leaving the EU and this new process coming in.

  21. Bobby F says:

    all of these things being discussed on here are wants, not needs. if the EU as a whole starts taking the piss out of England, they will be stuck with stock they won’t sell and revenues will drop sharply- then we’ll see what that does to their prices and their now bullshit admin add-ons. in this game, prices are often seemingly arbitrary, or what sellers think they can get away with anyway. look at the trading map on Discogs and who is the dominant buying/trading entity on there in the EU by a country mile. pretty good indication of other markets too and who doesn’t run a basket case economy. which many do. not a little Englander by any means but people here are not as thick as some of these EU companies/sellers want to think. we are going to see who is playing poker with jack high. bring it all on. shake the tree. personally, i couldn’t care less what they try all to attempt- i always laugh in the face of extortion techniques because i don’t require anything more than some desire to try to fleece. backbone. happy new year, happy new year….

    • Richard B says:

      Bobby F, the extra VAT we will all be paying is a UK government imposition, not the sellers in the EU. They aren’t keeping it. Ebay is collecting it and passing it on to Rishi Sunak and HM Treasury.

  22. Joachim says:

    Happy and healthy new year to all of you.

    I wonder what will happen to the John Mayall Box-set I ordered from SDE-shop to be shipped to Germany…

    • Paul Sinclair says:

      We will email everyone about John Mayall. The situation for that specific product is likely to be that we will take measures to ensure the import VAT is prepaid and therefore customers will have nothing extra to pay. But that isn’t necessarily a blanket rule going forward.

  23. Patrick says:

    A good effort Paul at trying to explain these changes. Perhaps you could offer to help the UK government understand what they’ve done?
    And at the risk of sounding pedantic your references to UK are not correct. Most of the changes you refer to will affect GB, here in Norn Irn we’ll have our own challenges.
    Living close to the border I swap between NI & ROI & I just ordered an LP from Amazon UK costing £23 & used ROI delivery address, VAT was removed & replaced with Import Fees Deposit of £5.04 leaving a total cost of £25.04. I can live with that. I would also assume that if someone in GB buys from Amazon.EU the Import Fees Deposit scheme will apply so maybe not a big difference with Amazon. My fear would be that smaller retailers simply won’t be able to accomodate orders to GB & will stop selling to GB. At least Amazon will do well out of Brexit.
    A happy new year to you Paul & your contributors.

    • SimonH says:

      I think all I would say is why would anyone want to be even £2 worse off?
      It will be interesting to see what happens across the economy. Duplicate what seems minor over a wide range of products and it all adds up to a lower standard of living for all.
      For me I want my money to get me as much physical music as I have time to listen to, this just reduces the options so very sad.
      I wouldn’t mind so much if it was money going to artists (I’m thinking lower level not megastars:)).
      Maybe it will settle but I doubt the end result will be positive. Suspect some small traders, the kind who use Discogs say, will decide it’s not worth the hassle.
      Thanks to people who are posting detail of what’s actually happening, it’s really useful.

  24. musicoloog says:

    Paul, I sincerely hope you will cancel – like other online shops – the Fine Young Cannibals 5CD bundle, as these still hasn’t released/shipped yet.

    • Paul Sinclair says:

      You mean, you hope we WON’T cancel. We aren’t cancelling, no. Although there is a risk you will now pay VAT when they turn up.

      • musicoloog says:

        Haha…yes, indeed… I hope you WON’T cancel!

        The release date was December 11th, then it has been delayed a week to December 18th.
        IF the bundle has been sent in time, this whole VAT-thing shouldn’t be an issue at all.
        Any idea the order will be sent?

        • Paul Sinclair says:

          I did email everyone… European orders aren’t being sent until mid/late next week, due to very late arrival of stock. Unfortunate, given the whole Brexit thing, but them’s the breaks.

          • Timo says:

            What about the VAT on the European orders? I believe we have paid the UK VAT at the time of order in Oct 2020. Will that be refunded, if we in the EU are, now in 2021, liable to pay the national VAT on delivery?

          • Paul Sinclair says:

            No it won’t be refunded. That transaction took place in October and that VAT is due to HMRC, so it can’t be refunded to the customer. Yes, I recognise this means you may end up paying extra when it arrives in the EU. Anyone who is not happy can cancel their FYC order.

  25. Dave Thornhill says:

    Welcome to our world… when the Australian GST (Goods and Service Tax) was reviewed a couple of years ago where they completely removed a $AU1000 ‘exemption limit’ for overseas purchases, Amazon dealt with it by shutting down sales to Australia from any overseas stores… still largely in place, the only avenue they opened up was the US store, butI’d been quite happily shopping from Amazon UK / France / Germany / Italy, only to have it shut down with no real warning.

    While I know they were/are not the only option for shopping across Europe especially, it was hella convenient…

  26. Richard B says:

    I’ve been buying old CDs from Europe for years now from some small sellers on ebay. At 11pm last night their prices all went up by exactly 20%. For instance, there was a CD in my basket that showed as E16.50 earlier in the day that is now selling for E19.80. When I look at the same item via ebay’s French or German sites, it is still selling there for E16.50,

    I doubt that there will be many checks by customs officers for this sort of thing. By getting large e-commerce sites to collect the tax for them, the government will be quids in.

    Similar price increases seem to have happened with US based sellers such as AllYourMusic and rarewaves.

  27. Tim says:

    I think a lot of these issues will settle over time. I’ve also had Amazon orders cancelled (I’m EU) that were in the pipeline. I suspect they don’t want to deal with the crossover issue. I reordered some this morning with no difficulty. The only thing I noticed is the price at checkout breakdowns differently – what was listed as VAT is now listed as “import fee deposit” but the end price is similar. I think the big international retailers will have no issues as they will just move UK from their EU listing rules and into a seperate setting and apply the UK rules to it. I would imagine costs could increase for the type of Amazon scenario where an order in one market is fulfilled in another – the order from Germany/France etc into the UK won’t come from the UK warehouse (or some fancy paperwork will be done to resolve the background scenario). I imagine a lot of smaller retailers will stop exporting if the cost is not sustainable. Red Tape is always easier for the big companies in any industry vto deal with.

    • CAB says:

      “I think a lot of these issues will settle over time.”
      You’re probably right, but it’s going to be a path on which many will feel ripped off and mugged, frankly.
      I also live on the continent and (used to) order lots of used CD’s from the UK. According to Paul’s explanation of the new rules :
      I could order a £10 CD from the UK …….
      Does the seller list a menu of prices – ex VAT for EU buyers, inc VAT for UK buyers ?
      How will I know if double VAT isn’t being paid (or not !) – UK and at arrival point ?
      Does the seller declare VAT on the item in the UK ?
      Can we expect (and assume over time) that UK VAT will be removed on order and paid per country rate when it arrives ? (Or is handled automactically by the vendor) ?
      Will every purchase require a calculator, or will the system be automated ?
      Can we expect that large retailers like Amazon will act as revenue collectors for state tax regimes ? (This already happens with organisations like Airbnb regarding tourist taxes.)

      Music Magpie stopped (CD) delivery to the EU mainland a few days ago. I contacted them and asked them why, to which they replied that people were complaining about extended delivery times due to Covid. I think it had more to do with this new VAT regime – maybe they had a heads up. They just can’t be bothered to deal with the hassle that will ensue when buyers feel they got skimmed.

  28. Rashers says:

    Thanks Paul
    I live in Ireland – Amazon always charges me Irish VAT on purchases from international Amazon sites (i.e. the price is always higher than expected). Strangely, his week I had a bunch of pre-ordered records summarily cancelled on me by Amazon UK and Germany (we are still in the EU!).
    Cmon governments in terms of fostering international culture – how about abolishing all import fees on physical music media – so that we can get all those nice Org, Mofi and AP records at a not astronomical price.

  29. CAB says:

    I’m finding it hard to believe that the new VAT scheme has been designed as it has, yet alone signed off by the powers that be. It’s a complete scam. I find it remarkable that direct-from-China Chinese products have been flooding the Amazon and Ebay markets for years without any hint of VAT or import duties, with the added bonus of extremely cheap Chinese shipping costs that undermine unionised European postage by a factor of 10, yet somebody has just signed off on VAT being charged on second hand items sold on Ebay within Europe.
    VAT in Europe has always been paid at source. European countries have achieved near parity regarding the purely arbitrary nature of VAT over the last 10 years. If the system is changed in the way it seems to have been – and unless the UK goes entirely VAT free on everything – the charging of VAT in the UK is a nonsense – nothing more than a milking scam.

  30. Jan Arne Hansen says:

    Well, I guess I just have to shop in EU-based shops from now on.
    The germans will be happy about that. “Ones’ death is another ones’ bread”.

  31. Simonp2 says:

    Just a practical example to share. I live in UK and sometimes buy from Udiscover.de in Germany. Shipping is usually a flat fee of 12.95 euros. I’ve just placed a new order – flat fee has now increased to 17.75 euros due to “increased shipping administration”.
    There doesn’t seem to be any other difference yet (ie no additional vat collected etc)

  32. unique says:

    this is the thing that most bothered me about brexit (apart from the major financial issues and costs). i buy a fair amount of stuff online from outside the uk, using this site for example to buy from non uk amazon when the price is cheaper, and i also buy a lot of cheapo chinese things from ebay for a quid or two

    from what i understand, if the business charged the VAT properly at their end the customer has no issues – in particular no £8 charge for customs clearance, the big bugbear for many, especially if you buy something that’s just £1 or so over the £15/18 threshold at the time (that’s now gone). my concern is if the business doesn’t do their bit right, on top of what you pay them there’s the extra 20% VAT plus the £8 customs clearance fee, so typically another tenner or more on top of a typical cd. so does anyone know what the deal is there? is the UK customer basically stung if the seller doesn’t do it right? i can’t imagine chinese ebay sellers doing everything legit. often they say they are UK based and your item turns up 3 weeks later from china. getting stung for £8 clearance fee on a bunch of £1 items from various sellers is going to put myself and many others off buying

    and what happens if you bought something early december that’s still on it’s way here, such as stuck in the customs clearance hell. so you bought before the rules kicked in. i have an order from vans from the .co.uk site and noticed it’s coming from Czechia. it says VAT on the invoice, and i presume vans will have the admin right as they are a big company, but will the VAT paid show on the declaration so customs know not to charge it again and you don’t get the £8 charge

    and unscrupulous ebay sellers from china or wherever, could they potentially fill in a declaration showing VAT paid but they just don’t pay it over, and rinse and repeat with various ebay accounts? jimmy dogood from hmrc is hardly going to go to china to get the VAT back from a business that’s sold £10k of stuff on ebay, are they?

    part of the problem is we have these questions, but there are no published answers as far as i’m aware, and that’s part of the problem in itself. there’s insufficient guidance and as it’s just been signed off they are probably still making it up as they go along

    • Paul Sinclair says:

      With reputable businesses and online sellers you should be fine. Dare I say it, but buying cheap Chinese goods via an intermediary on eBay isn’t necessarily going to be a premium shopping experience.

  33. Simon Carson says:

    Just looked on Ebay, 20% vat has started.

  34. kid992 says:

    As consumers we have always paid VAT on all the orders we make from Europe the fact we are leaving changes nothing we will still pay VAT on all the orders we make from Europe.

    • Paul Sinclair says:

      It’s not true to say it ‘changes nothing’. The type of VAT is different. It is supply VAT or import VAT that is payable to the UK Government, not to the EU member state. It adds a whole new level of bureaucracy if you are the business supplying the goods.

      • kid992 says:

        Only referring to VAT when I say it changes nothing. I’ll freely admit I may have got it wrong as you said it is complicated but as far as I can see if I bought a CD from Amazon Germany this week I will have paid German VAT on it. If I buy a CD next week from Amazon Germany I will pay the same German VAT on it and I will pay the same rate of VAT on it.

        Of course if e.g. Amazon decide their administrative costs have increased the CD maybe more expensive, but I can’t see that the HMRC can charge VAT on an item that has already had VAT paid on it as no Value has been added to the item and it is not for resale. VAT rates have only moderately varied within the EU and I didn’t think the HMRC do anything about minor differences between rates across borders. Of course that could be different going forward if the rates wildly diverge but it seems unlikely.

        Of course import VAT has always been payable on goods from the US because they have no VAT there, but as they have VAT in Europe and we have VAT in the UK I imagine that prices will not change that much. I pay VAT when I buy in Europe and when Europeans buy from the UK they pay UK VAT. That’s what I’m hoping for anyway!

  35. George says:

    Where I live, the Government bangs me for a 4 quid fee if I have a package with the goods worth more than 25 quid AND then also they’ll bang me for another 10% if I have anything worth more than £25 ( though it depends on who you get served by in the Post Office ) also, if anything comes through FedEx ( King Shithouses ) they bang me for a non negotiable £10 fee for “Customs Clearance” which is a bollox 2 minute job at most. At least DHL never do that & that’s before all this Brex-Shit lark. I can see it padding out that I have to be more thoughtful about what I buy, which my Mancave Shelves will only thank me for!!!!

  36. kaycey says:

    I live in the Republic of Ireland but will never purchase from Amazon Italy again. They refused to honour a pre-order price guarantee on Prince’s Sign O’ The Times Box Set that I purchased from them. I sent screenshots proving I was entitled to the discount and received a number of responses. Some informed me I was entitled to the discount and others said the opposite. Eventually I was told to go away by Amazon Italy. I did and will stay away. I was so angry I contacted the European Consumer Centre Network for assistance but got nowhere as they have no regulatory powers. They suggested requesting a chargeback on the item but that might have resulted in a Worldwide Amazon ban for me as a customer so not worth it for the sum involved. Still fuming though and tried to close my Amazon Italy account but was unable to isolate or exclude them from other Amazons.
    On another note Amazon UK cancelled my pre-order for Marc Almond’s The Stars We Are yesterday. No explanation given but none required under the present circumstances.

  37. Ken says:

    Complicated processes is the EU way.So no surprise it is all very convoluted and confusing.Unfortunately because we were the ones trying to get out I assume the inflexible EU kind of dictated most of this stuff,and probably rejected all our attempts to simplify any of it.From watching the negotiations unfold I kind of got the vibe that everything must always be the EU way or the highway.Their inflexibility is legendary.The EU just digs in and never wishes to compromise or accommodate the other sides requirements .We just have to hope that over time this trading stuff gets more clearer and less complicated.Otherwise we will get silly things like it being cheaper and easier to buy the same product from Japan or Australia or the USA than from our nearest neighbours France.So in business terms the EU’s loss will be another nations gain when folk start shopping around the world for the best deals.

    • Marco Gottschalk says:

      Please don’t forget that we Europeans also bought a lot of stuff from the UK. I just had 3 big orders which I all canceled because of the unclear situation. In the end, it will be your loss, sadly. I just ordered it from France;-)

    • SimonH says:

      Slightly one sided view, just maybe… also remember we chose this:)
      Good luck getting something cheaper from Japan or the US, postage from the US is as much as a single cd.

  38. Straker says:

    As of today Amazon Spain will not ship a £50 book to me in the UK (the stock is almost certainly still held here which just underlines the absurdity). They would have done so last week but now it won’t let me go past the address stage of checkout. I’m assuming it’s the same across all the EU sites and for all items. Happy to be corrected if not.

    • H says:

      Just tried to place an order with Amazon France and it’s done exactly the same with me yet an order I placed with them early December was delivered the next day.

      • Al says:

        Might be worth trying again today? I’ve just placed an order for a couple of Blu-rays from Amazon.de and it appears to have gone through without any issues (I am UK based).

  39. George says:

    I’ve pre-ordered the Best of Bond…James Bond tripple vinyl from Amazon UK as the other entities doesn’t offer this. Yesterday I’ve received the message:

    Unfortunately, we have had to cancel your Amazon order for the below item(s):

    Best Of Bond…James Bond [VINYL]

    If you’ve been charged, we will process your refund; it will appear on your bank statement within 5-7 business days.

    We are sorry for any inconvenience caused and hope to see you again soon.


    As there was no reason mentioned I’ve contacted them and they told me: because of the Brexit…

    Happy New Year from Germany

    • John says:

      The same email i received yesterday from amazon.co.uk.
      I preordered the 2 Fine Young Cannibals rCD’s and they canceled my order.
      What shipping method did you choose for your order ?
      I had the expedited shipping (i live in Greece).When i contacted the customer service they did not give me a reason.They told me to place a new order.When i tried i did not have the option for expedited shipping (UPS or DHL).I hope they fix it because i think amazon.co.uk had on of the best services.

      • Trapdoor says:

        This may not be due to Brexit as the FYC re-issues seem to constantly have shifting release dates (at least from the major retailers) on CD.

        That is more likely due to COVID than Brexit I’d wager…

      • George says:

        Dear John,

        first of all Chronia Polla to my country of birth Greece :-) When you order from UK to German the only shipping option you have is standard parcel by DHL. But the goods always are shipped from Europe. I’ve just tried to order the items which price has now climbed up. The price of the item is 34,99 GBP. At check out the price is only 29,16 and they charge you the standard postage 4,37 GBP, VAT 0,00 GBP and Import fees 5,36. Total price is 38,89. But I am no longer able to choose a parcel station or post office as delivery address – only my home address.


  40. Mike says:

    I got a message from JB Hi-Fi who I source Australian releases from. They’re no longer shipping to the UK. Anyone got any alternatives?

    • Rob says:

      Me too. Very disappointing as they seemed to be the only Australian store without extortionate postage costs

      • James says:

        Postage costs from Australia to the UK have always been high, but more so now due to Covid, with the economy rate for parcels no longer an option. One can’t blame the sellers for this. It costs nearly four times the amount to send something to the UK than it does for the UK to send something here.

        Ironically, those of us in Australia have had to deal with these issues now for a long while, with all the Amazon sites (bar the USA) refusing to ship here.

        • Michael says:

          Certainly am experiencing high costs of postage to a range of overseas destinations, not just the UK. Whilst the number of options may be less due to COVID, a large part of this comes from the way that Australia Post charges for parcels. There is no pricing for any items less than 2 kg for any countries. This means that if you want to send a single CD (less than 125g), then you pay the same if you send approx. 10. They stopped this option a number of years ago. I found this out when getting a quote for a parcel 260g to the US. $29AUD (Standard) – $34AUD (International). Australia doesn’t have many alternatives, but getting ready to give Sendle a go.

    • tom m hans says:

      I had good experiences with a Hong Kong Based Seller for Cold Chisel CDs shipped to the US – they were all sourced from JB Hifi since they still had the sticker on it. $5.00 flat rate shipping but that was probably 2 years ago. Not sure if that still works.

  41. Andrew r says:

    Sad sad article Paul , really feel the loss of freedom in being part of Amazon eu . It may only be a small thing
    But it seems the pleasure of scouring different eu countries for the best price is to be a thing of the past . A fitting end to a horrid year . All the best Paul

  42. Christoph says:

    I have not read all the comments yet and I have not had the chance to take a good look at the free trade agreement. But here some info just to clear some things up for EU customers as I live in a EU country myself and am a customs officer.

    A free trade agreement generally means that no import duties are paid IF the goods are of preferential origin in (in this case) either the EU or the UK. I say ‘generally’ because I have not read the specifics about this agreement.

    Example: you live in an EU country and you order a CD boxset from the UK which ships from a store in the UK which costs around €200,00 and it is produced in the UK. You will not have to pay import duties since the product is produced or has its ‘origin’ in the UK.

    If however that boxset is produced in the US or China, you will have to pay import duties because it has no origin in the UK. Because those countries are no partners in the agreement.

    Little ‘positive’ note: the import duty rate in the EU of CD’s is 0%. So when ordering CD’s, you will never have to pay import duties, only VAT.

    About exemptions:
    – shipments with a value of less than €22,00 are exempt from import duties and VAT.
    – shipments with a value of more than €22,00 but less than €150,00 are exempt from import duties but not from VAT.
    – shipments with a value of more than €150,00 are not exempt.

    Important (!) however is that the exemption for VAT will be lifted by the EU somewhere this year. From then on for every shipment, no matter the value, VAT will have to be paid.

    • Klaus says:

      Thanks Christoph,

      i took the risk of ordering some cd’s from amazon.uk today.
      During the order process everything looked like i’m used to including the reduction of calculated VAT to the German rate of 16%.
      Now i’m anxious to see what happens…

  43. Gary Hunter says:

    What is the position if you want to send a CD to somebody in Europe, what are the procedures/potential charges for that??

  44. Jurgen says:

    This is what was said on the news today. I thought of the time (before online shopping) I went to London to buy cd’s.

    Now that the UK is no longer part of the European Union and European Customs Union, you cannot just bring everything you buy in the UK to Belgium without restriction and free of charge. For example, if you return by plane or ferry, the value of all the products you take with you must not exceed 430 euros. If you return with the Eurostar, the maximum value is 300 euros. If you bring more, you will in principle have to pay extra costs.

  45. Alan Champion says:

    I echo those who have said this will make only small differences when UK individuals are buying from VAT registered European businesses, but as Paul says these EU businesses may choose to pass on the costs of the extra administration that is now being placed upon them.

    One area that seems much less neutral to me though is on purchases of physical musical product through Ebay or from individuals based in the EU. VAT will no doubt be levied at point of entry to the UK as the goods will not be VAT prepaid as with those goods worth less than 135 euros shipped by EU businesses. Like most collectors who buy both second hand items in addition to new box sets I feel the most frustrated by the prospect of a much higher cost on used collectables.

    • Paul Sinclair says:

      I think ebay is what HMRC call an ‘Online marketplace’, which is a body that ‘facilitates’ a sale. Apparently, they (eBay) will be responsible for “collecting and accounting for the VAT” so it may not be as you suggest (point of entry).

      • Alan Champion says:

        Thanks Paul, you are correct, I see now that ebay will levy the VAT. This still makes second hand physical collectables at least 20% more expensive, so this market would appear to be in line to be hit hardest of all.

  46. MarkD says:

    What a nightmare and a roulette game to see if your order has a correctly completed form attached.
    I think I will avoid buying from abroad until Easter to let everything settle down and see what other people’s experiences are.

  47. smorrissey says:

    Firstly of all Happy New Year Paul Sanclair!

    Secondly, i’m in Mexico city and recently bought the latest Rammstein Herzeleid Reissue, i had to order from Amazon UK cause other euro countries didn’t send the product at that point.

    Well i paid 68 bucks (with shipment) for a 1 CD single release…

    Now i’m starting to think it is pretty pretty dumb to pay those prices for physical releases….

    Let’s see 2021 but i assume i’m gonna be affected too….

  48. Richard Anderson says:

    I live in Northern Ireland. With all the Beatles Super Deluxe offers last week I thought I would treat myself to all three. Despite all 3 being ‘in stock’ Amazon.co.uk would not ship Abbey Road to Northern Ireland yet they were able to send the White Album. Amazon Germany would not send Sergeant Pepper. So it was 1 out of 3 for now.

  49. LowPop says:

    An artist’s perspective from Chris Olly from his newsletter today. You may know Chris better as the founding member and continued driving force behind the band Six by Seven. If you haven’t been following his output since then, I can’t recommend it enough. He is a true artist in every sense of the word.

    “This year I will try and release more vinyl. Hopefully, I can keep prices down but because of Brexit I am already being slapped with £50 ‘paperwork’ charges, and next year, after 1st January, there will be import duties to pay (all my vinyl is made at pressing plants in Holland, Poland, Czech Republic, and France – there is only one pressing plant in the UK and the quality of the vinyl is not as good as from these European plants)”

  50. Chris says:

    My understanding is the local VAT won’t be charged when buying from EU but export VAT will?

  51. Murray Robbins says:

    Amazon.de cancelled a pre-order I made for the Sabbath Vol 4 CD SDE so I guess the order ran foul of the VAT rule from their standpoint.

    HNY to you Paul and the SDE community

  52. H says:

    Thanks for the breakdown Paul made it a lot clearer – probably after a couple of months it will all become second nature.
    From a business point of view is this what you anticipated or have we been stuffed?
    Thanks for an always brilliant site and best wishes to you and yours for a peaceful prosperous and healthy 2021.
    PS fingers crossed for a definitive Carole King collection.

    • Mikko Suhonen says:

      What about the “Carole King definitive collection”? I am intrigued. Have you heard rumours? It is of course the 50th anniversary of Tapestry. Hopefully this anniversary is celebrated by something else than just coloured vinyl.

      • H says:

        Hi Mikko sorry to disappoint but it’s something I’ve been hoping for many years but which has never materialised – just one on the wish list but sometimes dreams do come true . Carole’s back catalogue has never received the justice it deserves.

        • Mikko Suhonen says:

          I do agree. As much as I love Tapestry, the rest of her catalogue (not to mention the songs she has written to other artists) includes several gems that are shadowed by her masterpiece. I don’t keep my hopes high, but good and loving re-release program would be nice. I love particularly “Writer” and “Love makes the world” and really most of her albums in between are great too.

  53. Jonathan says:

    European prices would include local VAT which should no longer apply on exports outside the EU. Adding UK VAT to the net of local VAT should result in a similar price as to now.

  54. THULL says:

    As an American, I can’t afford to buy from Europe anymore. Oftentimes the shipping is more than the item I’m purchasing. I miss out on a lot of actual product, especially 45s from newer bands because of this. Shame…

  55. Matt says:

    I might be wrong, but all the current European prices include VAT (as usual, paid at source in the EU) so for the UK if we (the UK) are to charge VAT then the EU VAT should be taken off the original price as it is now being exported … so the price should be the same (e.g. VAT goes to UK not EU). Same in reverse – if in Ireland and you buy from UK then the UK VAT isn’t applicable anymore (it is refunded for exports) so it should again end up about the same price, although you might be hit for charges by the post. Clear as mud in any event …

    • Paul Sinclair says:

      Yeah, that could happen… will have to see how things pan out. Costs will increase for sellers and that has to either be absorbed by the seller (not easy) or passed on the the customer.

      • Thorven says:

        What I am wondering: With orders that are already in transit, does the shipping date or the delivery date count? I ordered two rather pricey items from the UK in early December, which were shipped on the 4th and 8th of December and still haven’t arrived (maybe stuck in Dover).

        • Paul Sinclair says:

          My understanding is that the date of the transaction is what counts, although how customs know what this is (since it’s not on the CN22 customs label) is another matter.

  56. Prince Fan says:

    When buying from Amazon EU sites, I’ve always automatically been billed for VAT when checking out my basket. I don’t understand what has changed in that respect.

    • Tref Davies says:

      I’ve been a Finance Officer until recently, specialising in VAT (thanks Covid for losing me my job!). Prior to Brexit, VAT was only removed from the price when buying between EU countries if both the seller and purchaser were registered for VAT. It’s why some online suppliers will ask for your VAT registration during checkout (Dublin-based Adobe are a good example of this). For buying from outside of the EU, VAT is automatically not included (unless the online shop is not set up to make the determination and just blanket applies it to everyone).

      Since the UK has now become outside of the EU, sellers who are registered for VAT in their own country are not required to charge it on the sale. However, they will need to have updated their websites to account for this, so it makes the adjustment when you enter your billing address. Then there are stores which don’t make the adjustment for anyone, so they charge VAT to everyone regardless.

      So that’s something to be aware of – look to see if you’re being charged VAT or not – for purchases outside of the UK, you should not be, but be aware the seller may not have adjusted for this. They may do, if you contact them, but it’s not a given.

      So once you’ve noted that, then it’s checking the rates Paul has put in his article above. The main difference is that import duties or VAT may now be chargeable prior to delivery (based on value) once the item crosses the border, and these charges apply across the board, regardless of whether the seller is VAT registered or not, or if you’re buying through the second-hand or commercial markets.

  57. Christophe says:

    Thanks Paul for your explanations, beside I am sad for both sides we will loose advantages for buying physical music we love so much… :-(

  58. Peter K says:

    Hi Paul, Import duty will be imposed in Ireland together with local VAT rate as far I know. Effectively UK will be treated similarly to for example US. VAT may not apply to books, magazines but I was buying your booklets anyway before they sold out. Love the site and am seriously disappointed UK is leaving EU.

  59. G.D. Wilde says:

    I had the impression that the VAT issue was already raising its ugly head within the EU recently: Companies like Amazon.nl and and bol.com have already stopped selling outside the borders because they are being hit by VAT responsibilities.

  60. Colin Harper says:

    I live in NI. For ages, it has generally been the runt in the UK litter – in purely practical terms (I’m not going near the politics here!) – in the sense that it has often been excluded from things like national newspaper / magazine deals where X vouchers gets a book/recording (‘does not apply to NI’) and where it is too often considered not part of the UK for online deliveries of various things from national/international businesses. They’ll deliver to Fair Isle, but seemingly NI is a problem for them…

    It now looks like living in NI will – for the first time ever – be advantageous in various ways. Though I doubt that will mean that anyone in GB will start recognising NI banknotes as sterling any time soon (they are sterling – but try and use one in GB and you will be looked at like a fraudster). (I can never understand why NI banks issue their own notes…)
    This BBC item explains some of the new differences for businesses/residents in NI – in brief, it’s a cake & eat it situation: if one wishes, one can get an Irish passport and be back in the EU, while in terms of businesses, they are automatically within the EU… and within the UK (bar a paperwork border in the Irish Sea):


    • Chris Woods says:

      Colin, I also live in Northern Ireland and that’s a very optimistic take on this situation. Numerous GB retailers, and those that ship to GB, have already suspended shipping orders to Northern Ireland ‘for the foreseeable future’. They cover a huge range of sectors.

      No doubt it will get sorted in time but I have little confidence that some smaller retailers (such as independent record stores) will go to the hassle of updating their systems to reflect NI’s unique position. As it stands now there is as much red tape for a company in Campbelltown sending something to Northern Ireland as there is sending something to the furtherest extremities of the EU in Réunion in the Indian Ocean which is part of the EU Customs union.

      • Colin Harper says:

        I’m sure you’re right, Chris – I daresay there will be a range of pros and cons once it’s all had time to settle, as it were.

        I had no idea Réunion was part of the Customs Union – amazing. I’ve occasionally seen Bouvet Island (the world’s most isolated bit of land, uninhabited) in various mail order platforms’ ‘country lists’ and wondered ‘What would happen if I select that as a postage destination?’ :-D

        One of the pros to living in NI, even pre-Brexit, if one is involved in any kind of cottage-industry level mail order business, is the proximity to post offices in the Republic. When I semi-self-published my book ‘The Wheels of the World: 300 Years of Irish Uilleann Pipers’ in 2015, with Belfast pro piper John McSherry my collaborator, we had loads of orders from abroad – economically, it made sense for me to drive to the nearest RoI post office with a hundred parcels for anywhere in the EU (including the R of I), USA, Australia etc. Because the postage to ANY of these places was greater – often much greater – from the UK than it was from 40 miles down the road in Carlingford. Factoring in time and petrol, it was still a heavy saving!

        I can hear Paul thinking ‘Hmmm, should I move to the NI/RofI border?’ :-D

  61. ANDREW R says:

    Crikey…that’s the simplified version… thanks for that…the thing a lot of people will have missed is the scrapping of the ‘Low Value Consignment Relief’. All those cheap CD’s, Vinyl, DVDs and Blu Rays that used to come in from Amazon Luxembourg..will now have 20% VAT added…yikes

    • Caroline says:

      If they’d done something about that 15-20 years ago, the music retail sector wouldn’t be in the mess it is now*.


    • Prince Fan says:

      I’ve just checked a few Amazon EU orders. Even on CDs costing less than €10, VAT was automatically billed (and paid) on checkout for items sent to UK.

  62. Jamil Ahmad says:

    Thanks very much Paul …this article was much needed, you have cleared some of the clouds away. I live in Italy and order many items from the UK. As far as I am concerned, it’s a bad deal – items (imported from the UK) that are more than the value of Euros 22 (including postage) will be subject to customs duties, taxes and fees (“Import Fees”) …Italian Customs charges are expensive and they induce smoke to come forth from ones nose ;-) Thanks again for such an informative article. May you and all your loved ones have a peaceful and a healthy 2021.

  63. RichardL says:

    Like others I just got a message on Amazon France for Neil Young’s Archive II box (117 euros – about £10 cheaper than UK) – “This item cannot be shipped to the address you selected. More information. You can change the delivery address or remove the item from your order.” I tried a cheaper item and it worked OK. And where one Amazon site goes the rest follow – same thing happens on Amazon Germany. I can only assume that if the order is closeish to the £135 barrier Amazon put it through any longer. So it looks like Brits are no longer welcome on Amazon Europe and it’s goodbye to big bargains in Europe for us (eg Sign of the Times Super Deluxe on Amazon Italy for under £100!). I’m just hoping that we can still buy OK from the US where I buy a lot of blu rays that can’t be had outside the US. Otherwise it’s over to ebay and customs roulette.

    • Alan says:

      Similar problems here. Months ago I pre-ordered the Tame Impala Innerspeaker box set coming out next year from Amazon France for around 50 euros in total – the best price I could find anywhere. But I just got the same email saying “This item cannot be shipped to the address you selected” etc.

      For anyone interested, FNAC are doing it for the same price, so I’ve now ordered from them. Hopefully they won’t do the same.

  64. Peter K says:

    Hi Paul, just bought your 2 DD Booklets. I’m in Republic of Ireland and it looks like I wont be making many purchases from the UK going forward given the imposition of VAT and import duties as well as potentially shipping given Amazon prime seems less useful. I will of course look to Europe much more!! I think a lot of chickens will come to roost for the UK tomorrow and going forward. I of course will continue to read and use your wonderful site but unfortunately cost is a huge factor….

    • Paul Sinclair says:

      There is no import duties, only VAT. And VAT is zero-rated on booklets, also, at least in the UK (not sure about Europe).

  65. Pieter van der Velde wzn says:

    Can somebody tell me what happens to the prices of magazines I buy from Waterstones in Amsterdam. I go there every month to buy Record Collector, Prog Mag. and every now and then Classic Rock, MOJO or Uncut.

    • Paul Sinclair says:

      Nothing. There’s no VAT on magazines.

      • johneffay says:

        Paul, there’s no VAT on magazines in the UK, but there is in other European countries. In the Netherlands it’s a reduced rate of 9% (full VAT is 21%).

      • Pieter van der Velde Wzn says:

        Thank you very much for your fast and clear answer. I keep enjoying your site and read it daily
        All the best for 2021 to you and your readers.

    • david jones says:

      do they have English daily newspapers there? When I was in Groningen recently, there were none at all anywhere.

  66. Harcourt Fenton Mudd says:

    Grey Area Alert :
    When buying from amazon Germany/France/Italy, the item is posted to the UK from within the UK itself (as has been the case in EVERY occasion (bar one ) where I have bought from amazon “Europe” in the last dozen or more years . . .
    No physical product crosses any UK/Europe border : I wonder how amazon will treat this from tomorrow onwards! It’s a mystery, as Toyah said.

    • Philip wilson says:

      Also, I am in the UK and sometimes items purchased from amazon.co.uk are posted from France, Germany or Italy as that must be where has stock, wonder how that will work.

      • John Blutarski says:

        @Philip I’m curious what happens the other way around: I live in the EU and often order at Amazon.de or Amazon.nl and notice it ships from the UK. Maybe that last things will stop, Don’t know what Amazon will do, we’ll see

    • Auntie Sabrina says:

      You will no doubt pay the VAT as you are ordering the item from a EU seller.

  67. Harvey says:

    If you are in Ireland and order anything above the value of €22 including postage, you will be hit with VAT on it and no doubt charge of €8 I think for handling it.

  68. Silica says:

    Thankfully for the majority of us, it looks like there shouldn’t be too much of an issue when buying from the EU. I can remember a time in the 90’s early 00’s i bought from the US without any taxation at all (luckily everything seemed to skip through). Sadly everything gets taxed these days. Oddly things from Japan and China get through most of the time!?

    On a separate issue, i wish Paul (all at SDE) and everyone here a better new year. Due to poor health i haven’t been able to contribute much this year, but i do check in daily. It really has been an awful year for so many, so this has been a place to just forget about things and remember the things that keep us all going.

    Music (and the arts) are truly a gift that brings us together, and this year has been a reminder that we really have missed them. Yes, we can live without the arts, but our lives are so much poorer without them, they keep us going through good times and bad.

    All the best to everyone and a happy healthy 2021 to all. :-)

  69. Steven Roberts says:

    Bugger – an extra 20% on items coming in to the UK.

    Looks like I’ll be buying less from Europe from now on :(

    • Mark H says:

      It seems it’s not just European imports. I looked this up on HMRC and the £15 VAT free threshold has been totally removed. I tried to repurchase a low value item from Deepdiscount as a test. It now has 20% added even though the total cost of the item plus post was less than £15. It looks like the HMRC are just being lazy and simplifying the whole process by charging VAT on everything outside UK. And if course boosting the government coffers, by increasing the costs of our low value music treats….and of course everything else too….Bah humbug!

  70. Alastair says:

    Thanks Paul. I’m in the UK, and occasionally buy from a European Amazon store. I understand about being charged for UK VAT, but would I no longer be liable for the EU state’s VAT and therefore babble to claim a rebate?

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