Selling to EU Buyers
If you sell to buyers in the EU, there are consumer protection regulations that apply to you, even if you are based outside of the EU. For example, under laws such as the European Union Directive on Consumer Rights, EU consumers are given special legal protections which may be unfamiliar to people from outside of the EU. Rules for online purchases are sometimes referred to as “distance selling laws”.
Laws and regulations may differ for Etsy sellers selling products to other businesses, including retail companies buying products through the Etsy Wholesale marketplace. Also, keep in mind that some products, including custom-made goods and perishables, are exempt from certain rules. Please see below for more information on those exemptions.
This is not a complete list of all potentially relevant laws, but some of the key rules can be found in legislation like the Directive on Consumer Rights. We have simplified the rules to make them easier to understand. In addition to the Directive on Consumer Rights, there may be other European laws and regulations which apply to your business. We recommend speaking with a qualified expert about which laws may apply to you and your business.
Right to Return Items (Right of Withdrawal)
Under the EU’s distance selling laws, buyers have the right to return certain products for any reason by contacting the seller within 14 days. This 14-day period will start the moment a customer receives a product, rather than at the time he or she purchases it. Within that time frame, buyers can change their minds and return products without providing a reason. Sellers must clearly inform buyers that they have 14 days to contact them about returning an item. If not clearly stated, this returns period will automatically extend to one year.
When filling out your shop policies, make sure to accept returns and exchanges. You can set the number of days that a buyer has to contact you to return an item. If you sell to the EU, you can set this to a minimum of 14 days.
This rule does not apply to custom-made products, digital items, certain perishable goods, or goods that can’t be reused for health or hygiene reasons and are unsealed after delivery.
Goods which can’t be reused for health or hygiene reasons could include items such as earrings and underwear. If you sell items of this nature and wish to refuse returns for health and hygiene reasons, you must seal them in protective wrapping or packaging. If you seal an item of this nature and a buyer then unseals it after delivery, the buyer won’t be able to return it.
For custom-made products, digital items, certain perishable goods, or goods which can’t be reused for health or hygiene reasons and are unsealed after delivery, sellers must clearly warn buyers that they won’t be able to return these types of items. If not clearly stated, then buyers can return those items. If you sell items that are exempt from the right of withdrawal, you can specify which types of items may not be returned by selecting the appropriate options from the dropdown menus in your shop policies.
Model Withdrawal Form
You must also provide buyers with a model withdrawal form (in other words, a cancellation form) that they can—but are not obliged to—use if they change their mind and wish to return a product. We’ve created sample forms which fulfill the EU law requirements for sellers to give to buyers.
You don’t need to do anything to satisfy this requirement. Etsy will automatically include a link to the appropriate form in the receipt email to buyers from the EU.
Under the current regulation, if buyers properly exercise their right of return, sellers must issue a refund within 14 days of receiving the returned item or evidence that the item has been shipped back. Please note that in the EU, the refund a seller provides in the event of a return is required to include the shipping cost for the initial delivery to the buyer.
Prices, Taxes, and Fees
Under the regulations, sellers must disclose the total price of each product—including taxes, shipping charges, and any extra fees—to buyers before they place an order. If you don’t inform buyers of costs before they place an order, they will not have to pay them. Read more about adding Value-Added Tax (VAT) to physical goods here.
Note that any potential customs and duties fees are not included in this, since a seller will generally be unable to predict them. See Customs Fees below for more details.
Transparency About Your Business
EU law requires sellers to clearly and prominently provide specific information to buyers before they agree to purchase their products. For example, you must disclose your name (with enough detail to know who you are, such as your full name or company name), email address, phone number, and geographic address. You can provide this information in the seller details section of your shop policies. The information you provide there will only be visible to buyers who have set their location to an EU country. Etsy will not use the information you provide here to contact you.
Sellers must also give buyers information about shipping times, return policy, and seller details in a "durable medium". A link to a page or policy is not enough. Once you fill out your shop policies, including the seller details section, we'll take care of this requirement for you by including this information in the buyer’s receipt email.
Detailed Information About Digital Products
You must provide detailed information about digital content, including anything related to compatibility with hardware and software. You must also notify buyers if you have taken any technical protection measures with the digital content—for example, if you’ve limited the right for buyers to make copies of the content.
Provide Information on Delivery Times
It’s always good practice to include information about delivery times in your shop. Under the new legislation, if you do not agree on a delivery time, you must deliver items without undue delay and no later than 30 days from the date the product was purchased. If you sell goods that will take longer than 30 days to make and deliver, flag this to buyers in advance in the listing description.
In order for buyers to know how long it will take to ship an order, you should fill out your processing times. You can also fill out the shipping table in your shop policies to provide estimated shipping times to various destinations.
When a package is shipped internationally, it may be subject to import taxes, customs duties, and/or fees imposed by the destination country. Generally, these fees are hard to predict and are paid by the buyer.
In your shop policies, we have included a message to buyers to let them know that there may be additional customs and import taxes to pay, and that there maybe unforeseen customs delays. We have made it clear that you as the seller are not responsible for these charges or delays.
However, as an Etsy seller, you’re expected to know and follow the import laws and regulations of the countries you are shipping to, in Europe or otherwise. This includes accurately representing the contents of your package. For example, you must ensure that a sold item is not marked “gift”.
Etsy displays information to buyers about the potential for additional duties and taxes on cross-border purchases. If a buyer and a seller are located in different countries, we will inform buyers that additional duties and taxes may apply. This is to make it clear to buyers that they may be responsible for paying these additional fees.
For more information about how additional duties and taxes are communicated to buyers, please see this Help article.
More information on customs and import duties can be found here.