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UK ecommerce 2021 VAT changes – Northern Ireland

  • Nov 17, 2020 | Richard Asquith

The UK’s HMRC has provided guidance on how its 2021 ecommerce VAT changes will be applied to goods moving through Northern Ireland (NI). Since NI VAT after the Brexit transition period will be inside the UK and EU VAT regimes, the guidance clarifies how the anti-fraud measures will apply.

For NI, there will be no significant difference with the changes to the rest of the UK (‘GB’). The only key difference is: NI goods held by overseas sellers and sold on ‘facilitating' Online Marketplace (OMP) to NI consumers will remain the VAT responsibility of the overseas seller. VAT obligations reporting obligations will not move to the OMP. However, the OMP will share joint and severaly liability.

Movements between NI and EU are not affected by the UK ecommerce changes. These fall within the EU rules. The EU ecommerce VAT package, with similar changes, comes into force on 1 July 2021.

UK import VAT changes on consignments not exceeding 135

The key UK-wide changes taking place after the UK leaves the EU VAT regime in 2021:

  • The current ≤£15 low value consignment stock relief measure – which makes goods below this level VAT free – is being withdrawn. 
  • Consignments of goods sold from outside of the UK to UK consumers and not exceeding £135 - the VAT collection is moving away from the border sellers, or online marketplaces where they facilitate the sale, become liable to account for the VAT on their VAT return. The changes for overseas consignments will not apply to excise goods or to non- commercial transactions between private individuals.
  • Online Marketplace which facilitate UK or overseas sellers' imported sales not exceeding £135 will become liable to accounting of the VAT at the checkout. Also, for any value sale by an overseas where the goods were already in GB - not Northern Ireland.

These rules mostly also apply to goods shipped into NI from overseas

Need help with your UK VAT compliance?

Researching UK VAT legislation is the first step to understanding your VAT compliance needs. Avalara has a range of solutions that can help your business depending on where and how you trade. 

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VP Global Indirect Tax
Richard Asquith
VP Global Indirect Tax Richard Asquith
Richard Asquith is VP Global Indirect Tax at Avalara, helping businesses understand their compliance obligations as they grow globally. He can be contacted at: He is part of the European leadership team which won International Tax Review's 2020 Tax Technology Firm of the Year. Richard trained as an accountant with KPMG in the UK, and went on to work in Hungary, Russia and France with EY.
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