From 1 October 2011, anyone who sells goods in Wales, OR sells
goods outside of Wales that are delivered in Wales, must charge a
minimum of £0.05 per "single use carrier bag"
The Single Use Carrier Bags Charge (Wales) Regulations 2010
apply where goods are transferred to another person in exchange for
money, and the single use carrier bag is used for the purpose of
taking the goods away. The sale must be made in the course of trade
There are, therefore, certain situations where the obligation to
charge will not arise. For example, where a single use carrier bag
is used for goods which are free, e.g. a free brochure or
promotional items, there is no sale and therefore the charge will
Similarly, where a bag is used for goods which have been
exchanged for something other than money, (for example at a swap
meet), there will be no sale and therefore no charge.
The requirement for the sale to take place in the course of
trade or business allows some sellers to avoid the obligation to
charge. A certain amount of frequency is required, so for example
the regulations will not apply to people who occasionally sell
items at car boot sales or on auction websites. This
exemption is unlikely to apply in the case of direct sellers.
Note that the regulations apply to single use carrier bags. A
durable "bag for life" will not attract the charge, as
these are designed to be used more than once.
Bags for various purposes will be covered by an exemption under
the Regulations. None of the exemptions seems likely to apply to
Although there are circumstances in which the obligation to
charge will not arise, either because the conditions are not met or
the bag qualifies for one of the exemptions listed in the
Regulations, it may be safest to start with the assumption that the
charge will apply and then establish whether there is any reason
why it may not. Where a seller is selling goods within Wales or
selling goods which will be delivered in Wales, they should always
be aware that is it likely the charge will apply. Anyone who gives
carrier bags away free when they should have applied the charge
will be breaking the law and could face a penalty of up to
The Regulations do not specify what must be done with the 5p per
bag collected. It should not be paid over to the Welsh
government, as that would amount to taxation. Those who
collect the money are merely encouraged to contribute it towards
The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.
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