Many Italian ecommerce owners selling in the UK are wondering what has changed for their business with Brexit . In fact, from January 31, 2020, the United Kingdom officially stopped being part of the European Union, with inevitable consequences for the entire market. In this article, therefore, we will try to resolve all doubts on the matter.

Brexit: what is it?

Before understanding what has actually changed with Brexit for Italian ecommerce owners selling in the UK, it is worth clarifying what it is. As anticipated, from 31 January 2020 the United Kingdom , therefore England, Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland, is no longer a member country of the European Union . This is certainly not unexpected news, since the UK had already shown a certain "detachment" from EU policies in the past, for example by rejecting the Euro and keeping the Pound Sterling. In the intentions of the country, we certainly find the search for an improvement in economic conditions , especially by resorting to the adoption of protectionist and customs systems. But what repercussions does this choice have for the European market? There are really many doubts on the matter, especially for all those who do business with the UK market, including Italian online shops.

Italian Ecommerce: the consequences of Brexit

Following the UK's Brexit , some consequences have emerged for the owners of Italian e-commerce. In the first instance, they will find themselves facing a less fluid mobility and trade . In fact, by deciding to abandon the single market, the Government has substantially decreed the end of the free circulation of people, services, goods, and capital with the European Union. This situation inevitably leads to a definite consequence.

In fact, trade between the UK and the EU will certainly be slower, since it can no longer be "automatic" as it did in the recent past. But it doesn't stop there. When additional customs fees are applied, maintaining a truly competitive and attractive offer for customers, able to outperform competitors', could become a real challenge.

Going into detail we can see that for sales from Italy and the European Union in general to the United Kingdom, no additional cost will be calculated as long as the purchase amount does not exceed £ 135 . In this case, the VAT will still be declared and paid by the European trader. The situation changes instead for purchases of amounts over £ 135, because in this case potential customs duties could come into play, without forgetting that shipping will also be subject to VAT.

Nor should we forget that since the United Kingdom has left the European Union, any goods in transit will have to be subjected to checks . Last but not least, due to Brexit for Italian e-commerce owners there will also be important consequences on data protection policies. Fortunately , the first six months of this 2021 will in all respects be considered transitional at this juncture, so transfers related to personal data will still be possible.

Within this period, the United Kingdom will be responsible for recognizing that the privacy regulations issued by the EU can also be considered valid for the transfer of data from the country to the Union. However, in the event that an agreement is not reached, the customers of any Italian ecommerce should also consent to the transfer of data to the United Kingdom. Not being considered adequate by the Union itself, the negative effects on trade could become severe.

Brexit and tax consequences for Italian online shops

At this point it will certainly be clearer that the whole situation linked to Brexit for Italian online shops will become more complicated. But the consequences will not only be from the "logistical" profile due to the physiological slowdown given by customs, but also from a purely fiscal one. We have said that for transactions of amounts greater than 135 pounds, VAT must be calculated on what is the total value of the order, therefore including shipping costs.

For ecommerce owners in our country, this also means having a British VAT number . We remind you that the UK VAT is 20% and that the scheme will be managed through a specific form. As for the sending of parcels, the bureaucratic aspect will also become more complicated. In fact, due to Brexit, exchanges with the United Kingdom are no longer to be considered intra-European, but precisely extra-European. Therefore, the following documents must be included in each shipment:

For ecommerce owners in our country, this also means having a British VAT number.

A copy of the aforementioned documents will be inserted inside the package , while two copies externally in a transparent envelope to facilitate customs controls. The last copy , on the other hand, must be kept directly by the owner of the ecommerce in the personal archives. We must also specify that these formalities are to be considered mandatory for any type of packaging, package or letter. In the latter case, documents are excluded from the discussion, as they are not subject to a customs declaration.

In addition to this exception, however, any other shipment will have to comply with these rules, even those that include gifts or free samples of the products within them. In detail, the CN23 form must report:

  • Sending category . Among the main ones we find sales, non-commercial if concerning the sending of free samples or demonstration material, the return of any returns, and others.
  • Sending content . The form must contain an accurate description of what was shipped, the weight, the country of origin, the value, etc ...
  • Sender and recipient . In addition to the personal information, the telephone numbers of both parties, seller and customer, must also be reported.

In addition to the aforementioned information, additional data must also be entered in the CN23 form, including:

  • SH code . This is a 6-digit number used by European customs to calculate any taxes and customs duties.
  • EORI code . Code provided directly by the customs authorities to also be included on the invoice.
  • British VAT number . As anticipated, for orders of less than 135 pounds the Italian seller will collect VAT, which must subsequently be declared in the United Kingdom after having opened a British VAT number.

Italian Ecommerce and Brexit: in conclusion

There is no doubt that Brexi t will have a very important impact on what are the commercial exchanges between the United Kingdom and the European Union . This does not mean, however, that all these problems cannot also represent an opportunity and more generally an opportunity to be seized for all those ecommerce that should respond to market demands before others.

Author: Stefania Tamberlani


Stefania Tamberlani commercial, organizational and administrative hub of Arte e Informatica deals with relationships with customers and suppliers. He has a high level of knowledge in the configuration and management of the Joomla and PrestaShop platforms, from the configuration of payment methods to couriers, passing through the management of the catalog and orders.

PrestaShop Experts Program
PrestaShop Web Agency

Certified E-commerce Web Agency® is among the first Prestashop Platinum-certified agencies in Italy and in Europe. We specialize in helping small and medium-sized businesses sell online.

Consulting and Assistance

You can rely on our digital agency for advice or resolution of issues related to your online store or company website. 

Assistance | Check-UP | Hosting PrestaShop

Product added to wishlist