Written answers

Tuesday, 17 September 2019

Photo of Micheál MartinMicheál Martin (Leader of the Opposition; Cork South Central, Fianna Fail)
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128. To ask the Minister for Finance if he will report on the recent announcement by the United Kingdom Government that duty free is being reintroduced; if he has met his officials to discuss the matter; his plans to deal with the announcement; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37421/19]

Photo of Paschal DonohoePaschal Donohoe (Dublin Central, Fine Gael)
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The UK Chancellor announced, on the 10th September, that the UK Government intends to reintroduce duty-free shopping for passengers travelling to EU countries if the UK leaves the EU without a deal on 31 October next.

If the UK leaves without a deal, the UK will assume the status of a ‘third country’ in terms of their trading relationship with the European Union.  Earlier this year, the Oireachtas passed extensive legislation covering contingency arrangements in relation to the exit of the UK from the EU under these circumstances.

On 22 February, the Withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the European Union (Consequential Provisions) Bill 2019 was published.  It completed all Oireachtas stages on 13 March and was signed into law by the President on 17 March 2019. The legislation introduced a specific measure relating to Duty Free sales between Ireland and the UK in the event of the UK leaving the EU without a deal. The provision contained in the Act was designed as a contingency measure in that it was anticipated that a solution to such matters would form part of a future relationship agreement between the EU and UK.

In the Act, I made provision to impose restrictions on duty-free sales in Ireland to UK bound travellers, which I planned to implement if the UK introduced similar restrictions in respect of Ireland bound travellers in the UK. As the UK has now decided to apply an unrestricted duty-free scheme in the event of a no-deal Brexit and in line with this reciprocal policy, Ireland will not now commence the relevant legislative measure and European Union rules, in relation to passenger travel between the EU and third countries, would therefore apply from 31 October.  In effect this would mean that Excise and VAT free sales on purchases of tobacco and alcohol made at duty-free shops, subject to quantitative purchase limits, would therefore operate between Ireland and the UK. 

Passengers from the United Kingdom will however, only be entitled to bring goods into Ireland without payment of tax and duties, within prescribed limits.  The total value of the goods may not exceed €430 (€215 in the case of a traveller under 15 years of age), and quantitative limits will apply to excisable products (alcohol and tobacco).  The quantitative limits are set out in the attached table (see table A) and the enforcement of these limits will be an operational matter for Revenue.

This policy is in compliance with EU law and Ireland’s international obligations.

Table A: Quantitative limits on excisable UK duty free entering EU

Excisable ProductsProductPersonal Allowance for 3rd country travellers
Cigarettes200
Cigarillos100
Cigars50
Tobacco productsLoose tobacco250g
Spirits1 litre
Intermediate products (e.g. port., sherry) and sparkling wine2 litres
Wine4 litres
Alcohol productsBeer16 litres

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