UK Chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng has confirmed plans to reintroduce duty-free shopping for foreign visitors.
The old system was abolished in Britain at the end of 2020 after Brexitalthough it remained in force in Northern Ireland under the terms of the Northern Ireland Protocol.
But as part of the ‘fiscal event’ outlined today (September 23, 2022), the Chancellor said:
“Britain welcomes millions of tourists every year, and I want our high streets and airports, our ports and our shopping centers to feel the economic benefit.
“So we have decided to introduce VAT-free shopping for foreign visitors.
“We will replace the old paper-based system with a modern, digital one.
“And this will be ready as soon as possible.”
In March 2021, a multi-party group of over 60 MPs and peers wrote an open letter to the Chancellor of the Exchequer, calling for the introduction of duty-free shops on arrival at UK airports, international rail and ferry terminals.
The letter said independent research by York Aviation showed the move could increase passenger spending by 20-30 per cent, and would “help our travel industry flourish and make the most of the UK’s departure from the European Union”.
UK government urged to support duty free shopping on arrival
Commenting on today’s news, Joss Croft, chief executive of travel trade association UKinbound, said:
“We are incredibly pleased that the government has listened to the tourism and retail industries and will introduce a modern, digital VAT-free shopping scheme.
“This is a major victory for Britain PLC which will fuel growth, provide a boost to high streets across the country and lay the foundation for the UK to become an international trading hub, boosting tourism and export earnings.” to the UK”.