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The new BREXIT rules, and Click and Collect in Europe – not all plain sailing

As we know, BREXIT has introduced a new regime for cross-border UK-EU sales. The seamless flow of products has been interrupted. VAT, which under EU rules is collected in the country of origin, must now be collected in the country of delivery when selling into or buying from the UK. This introduces delays and uncertainty where previously there was none. Although most African e-shops selling into Europe will not be affected, if an African e-shop is using, say, warehousing in the UK, to distribute goods across the EU then delays and different tax rates will arise. In that case we strongly recommend that the e-merchant should study the 3 solutions – whether it would be best to relocate their warehousing outside the UK and within the EU, or find warehousing facilities in both the UK and EU,  or continue with their present solution in the UK and warn their European customers of delays and different VAT rates. The final processes for BREXIT have not yet been completed – the treatment of services (particularly financial services) to and from the UK still need to be agreed upon. If the UK press is to be believed, the EU aims to penalize services sold from the UK to the EU. Our advice would therefore be to move your services fulfilment out of the UK in order to avoid potential problems in the future.

Our colleagues at the EU, the Ecommerce Europe, has been following the issue of contactless Click & Collect solutions since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, and are concerned to see diverging regulations and classifications at national and regional levels are preventing some e-merchants from implementing these solutions. It appears that several Member States or federal states have not allowed contactless Click & Collect, especially during the first lockdown. In some EU countries local authorities have adopted different approaches within the same state (eg in Germany), or interpreted national rules differently. Ecommerce Europe notes that an EU definition of contactless Click and Collect may be necessary.

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Alastair Tempest

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