Belfast Telegraph

No-deal Brexit may bring surge in duty-free booze cruises

Excise: Cheap drink
Excise: Cheap drink

By Kevin Doyle

Irish consumers will make trips to the UK purely to buy duty-free alcohol and cigarettes on their return if there is a no-deal Brexit, experts have claimed.

The price of a packet of 20 cigarettes will be as little as €3 (£2.70) for people travelling from the UK into the Republic.

Dramatically cheaper spirits could also see the return of the 'booze cruise', a common day trip across the Irish Sea before the EU banned duty-free sales within the single market 20 years ago.

The Irish Department of Finance is warning that if a disorderly Brexit occurs the UK will be considered "a third country for the purposes of excise duty".

Officials predict this will prompt shoppers to take advantage of duty-free allowances and will "promote further fiscally motivated travel".

Latest figures show that 7.6m passengers arrived in Ireland from the UK in 2017.

"For illustrative purposes, if 50% of the total passengers arriving in Ireland from the UK availed of tax-free allowances within the fixed limits for cigarettes and spirits alone, this would have involved the import of 760m cigarettes and 3.8m litres of spirits," the advice document prepared for Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe said.

It adds that this would cost the Irish Exchequer €350m (£314.5m) in a year.

The assumption was that the issue would be dealt with during the transition period after they leave the EU.

However, the UK is currently on course to crash out on October 31.

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