Bag Levy Northern Ireland

17 April 2013

Monday, 8 April 2013, saw the introduction of a 5p charge for new single use carrier bags in Northern Ireland.

The main aim is to help protect the environment by cutting the number of carrier bags we use. The charge applies to all single use bags – plastic, paper or plant-based material such as starch.

You will be charged for single use carrier bags when:

  • you buy things like groceries or clothing
  • goods need to be delivered, for example when you make an internet purchase (for goods which are delivered in single use carrier bags and dispatched from Northern Ireland premises)

Retailers may charge more than 5p if they wish, however, only 5p from the sale of each bag is payable to the Department of the Environment.

When will the charge not apply?

If you are buying a service, for example, shoe repair or laundry, the service will not be subject to the levy. However, if you buy goods such as shoe polish or cleaning products from the service provider then the charge will apply.

The levy doesn't apply if a single use carrier bag is used for promotional or free items such as catalogues. It only applies when goods are sold.

Some single use carrier bags will be exempt from the levy:

  • bags used to contain take-away hot food and hot drinks
  • bags used solely to contain certain items such as unpackaged food, seeds and bulbs, axes/ knives/ razor blades, goods contaminated by soil and some medicinal products
  • bags used to carry goods purchased in an airport after you clear security
  • bags of a certain size used solely to contain packaged uncooked meat or fish
  • certain types of small bags
  • specialist bags such as mail order dispatch and courier bags

The levy doesn’t apply when a carrier bag manufacturer or wholesaler sells carrier bags to a shop.

For more information about the carrier bag levy contact the information line:

0300 200 7879

Retailers’ responsibilities

From 8 April 2013 retailers will, when applicable:

  • charge customers at least 5p for each new single use carrier bag
  • pay the net proceeds of the levy to the Department of the Environment

VAT information for Retailers

If you only charge the levy, then the full 5p per bag should be paid to the Department of the Environment as VAT is not applicable.

If you add your own charge on top of the levy, the full amount would be considered inclusive of VAT. For example, if you charge 7p on top of the levy, then the total amount (12p) would be inclusive of VAT. The total VAT in this case would be 2p - 0.83p of this would relate to the levy, with approximately 4.17p per bag payable to the Department of the Environment.

When you submit your quarterly return, the system will automatically calculate the amount to be paid to the Department of the Environment. VAT proceeds should be paid to HMRC in the normal way.

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Daly Park Newry Office

6 Trevor Hill Newry Co. Down,
Northern Ireland BT34 1DN
Fax: 028 3025 7335

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