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GLUMLIT UPLANDS? Merchandise & Gear in a Post-Brexit Britain


In 2016, the population of the UK voted to leave the European Union. After years of torturous negotiation, it finally became a reality on the first day of 2021. Much ink has been spilt on both sides of the debate, but the crucial question is what has actually changed? We used to trade across the Channel and the Irish Sea with no more thought than we did popping to our local supermarket. Now anyone doing business to and from the EU is subject to a raft of new regulations, paperwork and charges the likes of which we haven’t had to think about for decades.


We reached out to a few people who deal with shifting stuff between the EU and the UK and asked them about their experiences. It’s early days yet for Brexit, and the full changes have yet to take effect, yet alone the full impact to come light, so this article is just a snapshot of how things have been since January, so if you have any experiences please post on our social media outlets.


All responses have been edited for clarity and all information was correct at time of asking.



THE CUSTOMS ADVISOR


Will has worked in customs clearance since 2008, and recently took a role as an advisor in a company specifically focused on the Brexit customs requirements and declarations. We spoke to him to fill us in on the details of getting goods in and out of the UK.


How has Brexit changed your job? There’s very little knowledge now with businesses who have only imported/exported from the EU, very few prepared and it’s causing no end of issues with paperwork leading to a lot of goods being delayed. We’re faced with 250 million additional customs entries this year as an industry, most of these need to be made in conjunction with businesses that don’t know what they’re doing which is a massive time drain. We’re hearing a lot of horror stories where agents/forwarders can’t cope with the volumes, again leading to delays and what we expect to be an awful lot of mistakes in customs declarations by newly trained staff or very under-pressure teams.


What information did you have from the British government prior to the rule changes? The information out there was actually not too bad, but the issue was we didn’t have proper test environments. Teams were hindered by working from home, but not having key software like GVMS ready for testing until 14th December was criminal. Webinars and key information was there but there was no way to get any actual experience putting it into practice.”


Aside from the current regulations, what changes are on the horizon and how do you see them?


“If the UK Government had any sense, the tightening of the EU border will be put back until Jan 2022 instead of full customs declarations being required from July 2021. A lot more staff are required and that needs to change. But this industry is stubborn - I see no major changes coming. Just the expectation that businesses/agents/forwarders should become more proficient and get to grips with what’s needed to keep the flow of trade going.”

How have the new Brexit regulations impacted on private individuals shipping goods from the EU to UK private citizens?


“The uncertainty of Brexit has left a lot of businesses not importing into the UK at all. When they do they’re putting additional charges on top in case of delays and trying to charge VAT on exports which is just all kinds of wrong. EU agents are also refusing to accept that Imports Custom Declarations into the UK can be deferred for up to six months. This is leading to delays in the shipping of goods and all additional costs are being put to the UK customer, as the EU believes Brexit is what we wanted. You may find all Export/Import costs are being passed to the UK importer, which again could throw £100 per shipment onto the cost of something. And that’s not taking Duty/Vat into account. Each Import from the EU now has an additional 20% charge - that 20% of the value of the goods, private individuals cannot reclaim VAT. Any Duty for non EU origin goods will also require Duty to be paid which is usually another 2.5% to 6%.”

As an example, if I was to have t-shirts printed in an EU country and shipped to me in the UK for me to sell, what paperwork and costs would that mean to me?


“This covers Duty costs, with the GB-EU FTA agreed just before Brexit goods that originate in the EU and travel to the UK don’t have Duty added to the costs. However, if t-shirts were made in China, shipped to Germany and then shipped to the UK, Duty would be applicable. Interestingly this is only one way. EU origin goods leaving the UK and going into the EU the Duty charge will still apply, which is fucking daft.”



THE RECORD COLLECTOR

Scott is from Leeds, and is an extensive record collector, most recently completing his Magnum collection.


How has Brexit affected you buying records?


“Unsure what others are saying, but me and a few Magnum fans have ordered albums from Europe. None of us have been charged VAT, Import duties or handling fees. So unsure why on other record sites I'm hearing they have. Unless it's down to value.


The postman arrived and stuck it in my hands. I said to him “What do I owe you?”

He took it off me, looked at the package. “Nothing,” he said, and handed it back.

I said, “what about these handling charges in place for delivery from Europe? He shrugged his shoulders.


A few friends on the Magnum fan page who were also expecting orders from Europe from Discogs, eBay and MusicStack all had the same experience. No charges. I’m not going to complain as I saved £25. It’s made me more open to continue buying from Europe if I continue to not get charged, unlike the adverts that said I would.”


THE GEAR BUYER


As well as being a music teacher giving kids a taste of what it's like to be playing in a rock ‘n’ roll band, Mart is also a keen gear head, buying from stockists both in the EU and the UK.


Have you noticed any changes in prices & shipping times since Brexit?


“Shipping times are currently: 'wait and see, it’ll be there when it’s there.' Pricing has been impacted as there are now charges placed on top of larger purchases (say, guitars) upon delivery and these are not clear at point of purchase. It seems, in addition to VAT paid upon arrival, courier costs are down to how large/challenging an item is deemed to be by the courier, and cannot be calculated by the seller. As such, that £200 bargain guitar might cost an additional £50 or £80 upon receipt which really puts you off impulse purchases or ordering from the continent.”


Will the Brexit changes affect where you buy from in the future?


“Absolutely. With pricing as it stands, buying low cost guitars/amps /pedals/other instruments on a whim (while never cheap) is simply out of the question. I’ve watched prices on guitars closely for years, have noticed rises and falls in the USA to the UK in particular over time, but Brexit is new territory. Certain brands have traditionally gone up and up in line with quality, demand and the strength of the pound (Fender) while guitars manufactured in the Far East have improved astronomically in terms of quality, range and lowered price. Generally, it’s still a great time to buy guitars. However, restricted choice and higher prices are obviously less than ideal. Thomann’s Harley Benton range, in particular, is now less attractive due to unknowns surrounding delivery times and price - and their gear had started to make a real impact on the entry to mid level markets, massive bang for the buck and excellent variety. Not having that range of options and value is damaging to the consumer in my opinion. Confidence has been shook.


Have got similar experiences ordering modelling tools, paints, figures for wargaming. Everything has a big question mark over whether things will be able to be shipped, how long it’ll take, and what the final cost might be, and consequently, I’ve stopped ordering anything from outside England pretty much, until things settle.”



INVICTUS PRODUCTIONS


CLICK HERE FOR THEIR ONLINE STORE


Formed in 1999, Invictus Productions is based in Ireland, and distributes records and merchandise from Allfather, 1349, and Abbath throughout the EU and UK. Thanks to Darragh for his insights.


Have you experienced any changes in shipping products to the UK since Brexit, for example extra paperwork and charges?


“Yes! Since January 1st, DHL changed their entire shipping process and system without informing me, and it has resulted in an absolute nightmare of returned and missing orders. The majority of non-EU orders shipped since January 13th, when we resumed shipping after getting set up in the new warehouse, came back to us, beginning on Feb 8th. Some are still unaccounted for, presumed lost. The new process is a lot more time consuming. However the upside to it all is I can provide tracking info to customers for all orders, which I was previously unable to do. So it has been a nightmare and an extremely expensive one at that.”



Have you had any feedback from UK customers buying from your shop?


“Other than them telling me they cannot order from continental Europe, no. Everyone's getting their orders in relatively good time.”


Do you see any changes ahead for customers in the UK - for example, will you continue to ship to UK customers?


“I will continue to ship to the UK until such time as I am advised otherwise. The situation remains entirely unclear currently and based on the advice I have received from my accountant, there is no reason to cease shipping into the UK currently. That may change, of course.”





CHURCH ROAD RECORDS


CLICK HERE FOR THEIR ONLINE STORE


Home to Svalbard, Palm Reader, Slow Crush and many others, Church Road Records is one of the busiest record labels in the in the UK. Thanks to Justine Jones for speaking to us.


Have you experienced any changes in shipping products to the EU since Brexit, for example extra paperwork and charges?


“There are extra charges and paperwork, the most frustrating thing is there's no clear way of working out what the extra charges are. It's also taking almost 2 months in some cases for shipments reaching Europe which is a huge pain as it used to take under a week.”


Have you had any feedback from EU customers buying from your shop?


“A lot of our parcels are still in transit, I'm hoping things turn out okay, otherwise we might have to look at a better way of reaching our EU customers.”


Do you see any changes ahead for customers in the EU - for example, will you continue to ship to EU customers from the UK?


“We will still continue to ship to the EU as we still accept orders worldwide and Europe is a big market for us.”


Do you use materials manufactured in the EU, for example vinyl records that have been produced in pressing plants in the EU, and if so, what has changed since Brexit?


“There's a huge delay on vinyl at the moment but I think that's a combination of the pandemic and Brexit. All of our vinyl is manufactured in the Czech Republic, it's still pretty early days on how much this is going to affect us.”


SEASON OF MIST



CLICK HERE FOR THEIR ONLINE STORE


A great favourite at Dark Matter, Season of Mist has seen releases from Crippled Black Phoenix ,Sólstafir and many others. Was formed in 1996 and is based in Marseille with branches all over Europe. Many thanks to Guillaume Rochard for these insights.


Did you receive advice about the changes shipping to UK customers?


“Yes. La Poste [French postal service] informed us very early on that shipping policies would change because of Brexit, and they gave us information/instructions late 2020 regarding new shipping methods and taxes when it became obvious that no deal would be cut between the UK and the EU.”

Have you experienced any changes in shipping products to the UK since Brexit, for example extra paperwork and charges?


“Of course. Now we have to print out custom declarations and taxes may apply, exactly like when shipping to any other country that’s outside of the EU.”

Have you had any feedback from UK customers buying from your shop?


“A few. Some ask if we still ship to the UK, some complain about longer shipping time and taxes, but they don’t blame us. They know we just apply a shipping policy that was imposed to us and that we are not responsible for Brexit!”


Do you see any changes ahead for customers in the UK - for example, will you continue to ship to UK customers?


“We have many customers in the UK so it wouldn’t make sense to stop shipping there. But we expect smaller and less frequent orders than before…”

Does Season of Mist use materials manufactured in the UK, for example vinyl records that have been produced in the UK, and if so, what has changed since Brexit?


“Yes, some of our suppliers are based in the UK. Late December, one of them sent us four pallets that got stuck in Calais for weeks and only arrived yesterday [in early February]! We also experienced delays with parcels that got opened and checked at customs, which of course never happened before with shipments from the UK. We know we have to expect delays and/or inconveniences from now on when ordering from our British suppliers.”


Have you been affected by Brexit? Let us know on our social media pages.