Duty-free shopping to return under no-deal Brexit

Chancellor Sajid Javid

London,  The UK government will reintroduce duty-free purchases of cigarettes and alcohol with immediate effect if Britain leaves the European Union (EU) without a deal on October 31, Chancellor Sajid Javid has announced.

The Treasury said that under a no-deal Brexit, UK excise duty would no longer be due on alcohol and cigarettes bought when leaving Britain, meaning a bottle of wine bought at Heathrow by a departing passenger would be up to 2.23 pounds cheaper, according to media reports.

“As we prepare to leave the EU, I’m pleased to be able to back British travellers,” Javid said in a statement, adding: “We want people to enjoy their hard-earned holidays and this decision will help holidaymakers’ cash go that little bit further.”

Duty-free shopping is already allowed for those travelling to non-EU countries, but was stopped for EU travellers when the bloc’s Single Market was introduced.

People returning from the EU would have the choice of continuing to purchase and bring home unlimited amounts of cigarettes and alcohol with duty paid – as is the case now – or to buy limited amounts at duty-free shops in EU countries instead.

According to figures provided by the Treasury, someone buying two crates of beer would save 12 pounds.

But the return of duty free will only apply if Britain leaves the EU without a deal because under the terms of the withdrawal agreement the UK would stay in the single market and the customs union for the duration of a transition period, and this means keeping the current system in place.

At the end of that period, the UK would have to decide whether to remain aligned with EU rules on duty free but leaving without a deal gives the government the freedom to set its own rules.