Consumer buying goods online from the UK face immediate changes with increased VAT and import tariffs when the package is delivered by An Post to their home in Ireland, if Brexit goes ahead at the end of October.
On a visit to the An Post Mail Centre in Portlaoise, Minister for European Affairs Helen McEntee said she hopes it did not happen, but it is important that people are aware that buying online will change immediately if Britain leaves without a deal.
She also warned that there will be changes to consumer rights protection for all products bought in the UK after October 31.
"In the event of a no-deal Brexit, immediate changes will come in the form of increased VAT, import tariffs and changes to consumer rights protection for products bought from the UK. I hope this doesn't happen," Minister McEntee said.
"But it's so important that people are aware that buying online will change when the UK leaves the EU and these changes will be immediate if they leave without a deal."
Advice for consumers
- Know where the company you are buying from is based
- Always read the retailer's terms and conditions carefully before buying, particularly around your rights to cancel the order, exchange or return the good
- Before ordering from outside the EU, find out what VAT and import charges you may have to pay and how these payments can be made
Garret Bridgeman, Managing Director of An Post Mails & Parcels, explained in addition to two years' Brexit planning, An Post is unique in having the end-to-end national and international mails expertise and global contacts to manage Brexit changes for private and business customers.
The company has been transforming its parcels business in line with rapidly growing e-commerce business.
Mr Bridgemen said: "It's our job to manage whatever comes out of Brexit.
"An Post already handles hundreds of thousands of parcels every week from non-EU countries , the paperwork and where duty or tax charges are due, we collect them from our customers as part of our national delivery service.
"We also carry Irish goods to the world every day and we are working closely with Irish companies of all sizes on their international shipping and logistics.
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"An Post is in daily contact with our colleagues in Customs, in Royal Mail and with all our national and international contract customers to ensure readiness for all possible Brexit outcomes."
Fergal O'Leary, from the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission, said consumers have strong rights when buying within the EU, particularly if they change their minds or if goods are not delivered.
"These rights do not apply if you buy from a business outside of the EU. So it is important to prepare now for the possibility that following Brexit there will be changes to your rights if you are buying online from a UK based retailer," he said.
"We have prepared helpful information for consumers about the impact Brexit could have on their rights when shopping online and booking a package holiday.
"At a minimum, before you buy you should be sure you know where the business is located, and if its outside the EU, check the terms and conditions on their website particularly the returns policy and any costs for returning goods.
"Make sure you are happy with these before you purchase anything."