PPA Blog

EU Customs VAT clampdown on subscription mail

By Sebastian Cuttill

1 Dec 2021

Italian Customs are beginning to clampdown on items that do not comply with VAT rules. It is likely that similar clampdowns could occur in other EU nations, and publishers should take action to comply in order to prevent serious delays.

In July, the VAT exemption for the importation of goods with a value of €22 or less into EU member states was removed, meaning all goods imported into the EU are subject to VAT. Although magazines are zero-rated for VAT purposes in the UK, most EU countries operate a reduced or full rate as there is no universal exemption.

The PPA has produced a Guidance Document on the changes, which explains the new regime and possible courses of action publishers can take in greater detail. You can access the Guidance Document by clicking here.

As PPA previously advised, if publishers and sellers do not take action it is likely that subscriptions will come into the EU on a Delivered Duty Unpaid (DDU) basis – means the customer pays VAT and administration fees in order for the purchase to be released to them.

Italian Customs are now clamping down on non-compliant items, which is leading to delays in Italy. Poste Italiane is conducting thorough checks, and demanding proof of clearance, of items originating from outside the EU - including magazines and periodicals. This has also occurred in Sweden and Belgium. There is a possibility that similar clampdowns could occur in other EU countries, creating considerable disruption across multiple destinations.

These clamp downs serve as a reminder that it is imperative for publishers to work towards becoming compliant to avoid precisely these sorts of issues: it is now inevitable that compliant mail will have faster transit times.

PPA Strategic Partner Air Business, a market-leader in global mail, fulfilment, distribution and subscription management, said: "The clampdown of VAT and customs compliance in Italy is not unexpected, and supports our belief it would be unwise to gamble on whether the rules would be strictly applied or not. We have always believed it was a case of ‘when’, not ‘if’, and evidence suggests other countries are following behind - there are reports in other EU countries of subscribers being asked for local taxes before their magazine is delivered."

To mitigate the risk of serious delays to mailings to the EU, we encourage publishers to fast-track their processes towards compliance, and we would be happy to discuss any concerns or solutions with PPA members - please contact Rob Barham at Robert.Barham@airbusiness.com, or the PPA’s Public Affairs Executive sebastian.cuttill@ppa.co.uk, for more information.

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