Revenue warns of possible hidden costs when shopping online


The Revenue Commissioners is warning people shopping online this season that if a price seems to low to be true, that may be because it is.

If you are shopping online and buying goods from outside of Ireland, it may be that the advertised price does not include tax and duty that will be applied once they arrive in the country.

Ms Maureen Dalton, Principal Officer in the Revenue Commissioners Customs Division, outlined that online shoppers need to be aware of potential additional charges before buying.

“Almost all goods arriving from non-EU countries will be liable to tax and duty,” she explained of shopping online from vendors around the world.

“If you shop online, you need to check whether the advertised price includes any tax and duty costs due before you make your decision to buy the goods concerned.”

Last year, Revenue officers in postal depots around the country applied charges to almost 100,000 parcels and packets, with the average duty and VAT charge per parcel coming to €68.66.

VAT applies if the cost of goods, including transport, insurance and handling, comes to more than €22, and Customs Duty also comes into play if the cost is above €150.

“For example, if you bought a mobile phone online from China, at an equivalent cost of €212, you would have to pay an additional €54.50 in Customs Duty, VAT, insurance and handling fees,” Maureen Dalton explains.

However, while most goods arriving from within the EU are exempt from Excise Duty and VAT, for alcohol and tobacco products are not.

“For example, the Excise Duty, VAT and handling fee on an average case of 12 bottles of sparkling wine, originating in another EU country, could add up to €119.27 to your purchase price.”

Ms Dalton concluded her advice to online shoppers by saying “Make sure you are clear on the actual or real cost of a product before you order it online. This will ensure you not faced with any additional unanticipated charges when you take delivery.”