5th April 2013

In Northern Ireland Single Use Carrier Bags will cost at least 5 pence from 8th April 2013.

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.

Single use carrier bags can be made from:

  • plastic
  • paper
  • plant based material such as starch

When Does The Charge Apply?

Customers will be charged for single use carrier bags when:

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

When Will The Charge Not Apply?

Services such as shoe repair or laundry will not be subject to the levy.  However, if goods such as shoe polish or cleaning products are bought 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 and include:

  • 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 clearing 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.

Retailers’ Responsibilities

From 8th 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.

From 8th April you should start keeping a record of bags sold and the levy collected.

VAT Information

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.

Payments are made to the Department of the Environment via a dedicated portal on NI Direct.  Any retailers who have not received a letter with a password for the bag levy portal should ring 0300 200 2879.  The returns will have to be made quarterly with the first return (8th April – 30th June) having to be filed and paid by the end of July.  Payments can be made electronically or by cheque.

Full details can be found at: www.nidirect.gov.uk/carrier-bag-levy-legislation-and-guidance

To discuss this in more detail please contact:

Stephen McConnell, Business Services Director Tel: 028 9032 3466 carrier bags to a shop.