Online retailer concerned excise duty will have to be paid twice on alcohol shipments
Amazon has stopped selling wines, beers and spirits to its Northern Ireland customers due to with new customs rules post-Brexit, it has emerged.
ITV News reports that the online retailer is concerned that excise duty will now have to be paid twice on all shipments of alcohol which are sent from the British mainland across the Irish Sea.
Amazon’s suspended orders in Northern Ireland at the end of December, shortly after the UK/EU trade deal was published, and the decision is unlikely to be reversed until the company obtains clarity on the tax situation from HMRC.
One Amazon customer from Belfast, who didn’t wish to be identified, told ITV News his subscription for a delivery of whisky every three months had been cancelled.
“My biggest issue is they will no longer supply any alcohol to Northern Ireland, despite me being a Prime customer and having bought hundreds of items over the past 15 years,” he said.
Industry sources say Amazon is also considering halting the sale of a large number of other products to Northern Irish customers - including pet food, organic food supplements and some over-the-counter medicines - before the end of March when the three-month Brexit customs grace period ends.
From April 1, all deliveries of products of animal origin, sent from mainland Britain to Northern Ireland, will need to be accompanied by Export Health Certificates (EHC) which need to be signed-off by a vet.
Amazon is concerned that the burden of the extra customs paperwork coupled with the requirement for physical checks will be too costly and disruptive, running the risk that lorries carrying thousands of Amazon parcels - many of which won’t require EHCs - get held-up at the border.
Northern Ireland’s online shoppers are already facing fewer choices as big retailers like John Lewis, Dunelm and TK Maxx pause deliveries to here..
In a statement, a spokesperson from Amazon said: “We are planning and preparing for April 1st end of the grace period so we can continue to serve our customers in Northern lreland who count on Amazon with the broadest possible selection of products.”
A government spokesperson said: “These goods will not be taxed twice, and we will issue new guidance clarifying the position to ensure any remaining issues are addressed.”