Cross Channel Shopping Sprees Continue

Many thought that following Britain’s exit from the European Union, cross channel shopping trips would fall out of favour. But the opposite seems to be true.

Seemingly defying Brexit, record numbers of motorcaravaners are making cross channel shopping trips to stock up on food stuffs and cheaper alcohol.

Ferry operators have reported a surge in the number of people making cross channel shopping on day trips, predominantly to take advantage of duty-free shopping.

Reintroduction of duty-free allowances

When Britain left the European Union brits lost the ability to bring home unlimited alcohol for personal consumption. Brexit, however, heralded the reintroduction of duty-free allowances.  Beginning in January 2021, Britons were able to claim a VAT refund on purchases.

That gave the green light for duty-free sales to restart on cross channel ferries and ports.

Businesses near Calais have taken advantage of the new rules, which also apply to goods costing over €100.00. Cité Europe the shopping mall beside the Eurotunnel terminal in Coquelles is home to more than 140 shops including a Carrefour hypermarket.

Détaxe form

Since 2021 almost all of them offer cross channel customers the opportunity to enjoy duty-free shopping.  They issue cross channel Britons with a détaxe form.  This can then be scanned at the ferry or Eurotunnel terminal on a Pablo machine in order to process a refund.

Since 2021 the number Brits taking short-break cross channel trips has more than tripled.  In the same period those taking daytrips have more than doubled.

cross channel ships sell duty free

And the evidence is that it is the cheaper alcohol prices in France that are responsible for the upswing.

Under the new laws, Britons over the age of 17 can cross the channel and return home bringing back booze for home consumption without paying tax.  The biggest savings available are on bottles of spirits.  They can now each bring back 42 litres of beer, 18 litres of still wine and four litres of spirits.  If they opt not to bring back spirits, they can instead, bring back 9 litres of sparkling wine, fortified wine or any alcoholic beverage less than 22 per cent ABV. 

Not just alcohol

Carrefour customers can still make savings on wine because duty levels, are much lower in France than in the UK. It is not difficult to find wines under £2 on hypermarket shelves.  Customers are not just buying alcohol.  Products such as perfume, Lego, electronics and cosmetics can all become the subject tax free refunds for channel crossing customers.

Ferry operators have been quick to cash in on the new opportunity.  The Danish international shipping and logistics company. DFDS has opened two huge new duty-free shops in the ports at Calais and Dunkirk.  And duty free sales on cross channel ships are increasing too.