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What Etsy Sellers Should Know About the European Union’s New Online Selling Regulations

Jun 12, 2014

by Susannah Bradley

Etsy.com handmade and vintage goods

On June 13, new regulations will take effect in the European Union that will have an impact on some Etsy sellers. The regulations, which will implement the European Union Directive on Consumer Rights, apply to some Etsy sellers based in EU member countries. If you are an Etsy seller based outside of the EU and you sell to customers based in the EU, it is currently unclear if and how the regulations apply to you. We will update this information as the regulations go into effect. The regulations do not apply to Etsy sellers selling products to other businesses, including retail companies buying products through the Etsy Wholesale marketplace.

Even if your shop is not based in the EU, it’s a good idea to learn more about the new regulations; they will set the standard for what your customers and competitors will be used to and expecting in Europe. Below are some key aspects of the legislation. This is not a complete list and some of rules are simplified to make them easier to understand. Also, keep in mind that some products, including custom-made goods and perishables, are exempt from the rules (see below for more information on those exemptions).

For more details, go to the website of the European Union Commission, which features the full text of the legislation. If you are an Etsy seller based in the EU, look for information related to requirements specific to your country, because some rules vary depending on your location. Many EU countries have published guides and advice to help online sellers. Etsy sellers based in Germany can also learn more about specific requirements for their country on Etsy’s German blog.

Etsy will be offering more information about the new regulations in the coming months. We recommend that you review the regulations and consult with a professional advisor if necessary. In the meantime, here’s a look at some of the key changes going into effect on June 13.

More Time for Returns

Under the EU’s previous distance-selling laws, buyers had the right to return certain products within seven days for any reason. The new regulations expand the return window to 14 days after receipt of the goods. Within that time frame, buyers can change their minds and return products without providing a reason.  This rule does NOT apply to custom-made products and certain perishable goods, unless you specify that buyers can return those items. Digital content, including artwork and patterns, may not be eligible for return. Rules governing digital content vary by EU member country, so be sure to check the laws applicable in your country.

Sellers affected by the regulations must clearly inform buyers about their right to cancel an order within the 14-day window. Failure to do so will extend the cancellation period to one year. The cancellation period will start the moment a customer receives a product, rather than at the time he or she purchases it, which was the case with the EU’s previous distance-selling laws. 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. Etsy has created a model withdrawal form that sellers can supply to buyers.

New Refund Rules

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. The refund generally includes the cost of delivery. If you want buyers to bear the shipping cost related to returning goods, you must make that clear prior to the sale; otherwise you will have to pay the shipping costs for the return. You are also required to provide at least an estimate of the maximum costs of returning bulky goods, such as furniture.

More Clarity on 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.

Increased Transparency About Your Business

The new 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 and address, information about pricing and return policies, as well as additional information including, if applicable, your telephone number. Sellers must also provide confirmation of specified information in a durable medium, such as an email or receipt. Again, please review the regulations for specific information requirements. Etsy will add an additional field to the Shop Policies page so you can supply this information to buyers if necessary.

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.

Mandatory 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 day the product was purchased.

Please stay tuned in the coming months for more information on the new regulations.

72 comments

  • baetensjosien

    Josien from JeTrouve said 5 years ago

    that are indeed some important changes! thnx very much for sharing

  • AlteredEras

    Paula from AlteredEras said 5 years ago

    Thanks Susannah & Mark for checking this out & keeping everyone updated :)

  • CandleLitCrafts

    Sarah from CandleLitCrafts said 5 years ago

    Thanks a mill for keeping us updated.

  • Agasart

    Aga from AgasJourney said 5 years ago

    very helpful info. Thank you for sharing

  • shazhee

    Shaz G from TheBabyBootieque said 5 years ago

    Thanks and Yikes! need to up my game!!!

  • Blucha

    Erika Price from Blucha said 5 years ago

    Thanks for the update!

  • dhawkins3

    della hawkins from ButterandBath said 5 years ago

    Thank you.

  • cb80085

    Clara Belle from ClarasHandMade said 5 years ago

    This has all been put in a really simple to understand format thanks so much. I originally went to the WHICH? article and updated my policies but this is even easier to grasp. Thanks again. X

  • Percee

    Pera P. Kraljic from Percee said 5 years ago

    Thank you!

  • strawandberrycafe

    strawandberry from StrawAndBerryArt said 5 years ago

    thanks for the info :)

  • drksoapcompany

    Dr K from drksoapcompany said 5 years ago

    Can we please get a VAT tool now to comply with EU law? Thanks

  • RakheeKrishna

    Rakhee Krishna vanMeerkerk from ArtForHappyPeople said 5 years ago

    Thank you for the info! very useful!

  • scavengerannie

    Annie McGee from scavengerannie said 5 years ago

    Cheers for the info :)

  • timrava

    zuzana-timrava from timrava said 5 years ago

    thank you

  • sparklehen

    Heather Scott from sparklehen said 5 years ago

    Thanks for that!

  • LizzesBeautifulArt

    Elizabeth Chambers from LizzesBeautifulArt said 5 years ago

    Thank you I like it when you break it down :-)

  • dmlivett

    Dawn Marie Livett from CharismaJewellery said 5 years ago

    More than helpful, very grateful.

  • martinhollingham

    Sheena Hollingham from FutureFurnishing said 5 years ago

    Thank you for the information.

  • Amberlilly7

    Lindsay Lines from AmberlillysHandmade said 5 years ago

    Prices, taxes and fees, mmm, thats extra work! Thanks tho for helping.

  • KatzCornerBoutiuqe

    KatzCorner from KatzCornerBoutique said 5 years ago

    Thanks for keeping us updated!

  • richiehamill

    Richie Hamill from RichieHamillPrints said 5 years ago

    Thanks for sharing. Good info!

  • puppetsinabag

    Andreana from Puppetsinabag said 5 years ago

    very helpful , some of my patterns are printed on booklets and I am selling the booklet is that is eligible for refunds as well???

  • GVEGA

    G Vega from GVEGA said 5 years ago

    Good stuff. :)

  • ProjectSarafan

    Project Sarafan from ProjectSarafan said 5 years ago

    Is a cancellation form of some kind going to be incorporated into the etsy system? Thanks for the update!

  • selenaantonic

    Selena from SarArt1 said 5 years ago

    Thank you for the information!

  • michellecharter

    Michelle Prinold from VanillaRetro said 5 years ago

    Excellent info. Can you clarify something for me though? under the section "More Clarity on Prices, Taxes and Fees" it reads "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." Does this mean it is the sellers responsibility to inform buyers on the import tax, levied by and payable to, the buyers government? And if they seller does not notify the buyer that there may be additional changes payable before they receive the goods, the seller will have the pay those additions? Each and every country has different import limits and tax, will etsy be introducing a tool to calculate this and inform the buyers during the checkout process? Thanks!

  • valeriemavie

    Valérie from FrenchShineDesign said 5 years ago

    Thank you for the update, this helps a lot! :)

  • ikabags

    IKA PARIS from ikabags said 5 years ago

    Thank you for the information!

  • shineon2

    Trudi Doherty from GlitteringprizeGlass said 5 years ago

    i was aware of some changes .... but thank you etsy for making this easier to understand and help with the forms ... top job x

  • lobito

    lobito said 5 years ago

    thank you!!

  • eanjewellery

    Elizabeth Anne Norris from eanjewellery said 5 years ago

    Good to know, thank you so much for sharing this important information.

  • LDCcreations

    Lorna from LDCcreations said 5 years ago

    Thank you for the information - very helful

  • LDCcreations

    Lorna from LDCcreations said 5 years ago

    Sorry my previous comment should have read: Thank you for the information - Very Helpful

  • LurayKnitwear

    Liz Fornal from LurayKnitwear said 5 years ago

    Thanks for the info ......I'm also interested in hearing the answer to Michelle's question. How can we (US sellers) possibly know how much the taxes and fees will be *prior* to the customer ordering as it will vary with sizes, weights, and prices, of different items? Thank you.

  • elfoto

    Evija Laivina from ArtByAbrakadabra said 5 years ago

    Thank you!

  • VelvetLimelight

    VelvetLimelight from VelvetLimelight said 5 years ago

    Great to know, thanks so much! :)

  • LibiHung

    Libi from LibiClozet said 5 years ago

    Thank you!

  • Elizopolis

    Elizopolis said 5 years ago

    This would seem to be a measure of European protectionism because in practice it is IMPOSSIBLE for a seller to calculate the taxes and fees a client will have to pay. This is not just because there are so many countries and each country has its own taxes and fees but mostly because the taxes and fees do not always apply!!!!!!! In France for instance, sometimes you have to pay the taxes and fees and sometimes you don't and this is simply because Customs-La Douane is understaffed and antiquated. In principle, any package worth 100€ or more, including shipping price, is subject to taxes, duties and fees. But in reality, sometimes you have to pay all that even when the package + shipping is declared as less than 100€. Some packages declared at 100€ or more slip through customs unnoticed and others get nabbed. There is no rhyme or reason to it. And fees are hefty: there is an across the board 60€ fee for any package French customs processes, plus 20% VAT. On an item valued at 100€ for instance (say selling price 82€ and shipping 18€) the taxes and fees come to at least 80€ (60€ euros across the board flat fee, plus the 20%VAT). So it's very prohibitive and also VERY UNFAIR to small businesses because big business can negotiate all this and small can't.

  • TheGraciousHare

    Patricia Vallina-Mackie from TheGraciousHare said 5 years ago

    I agree with Elizopolis, here in Spain it runs almost the same, at times I have to pay in taxes more than the item is worth. Recently brought a camara bag from Amazon Spain, and paid the taxes, then because I live in the Canary Islands which is Spanish I had to pay another 40e.. It makes things unrealistic. Its very hard to know which country charges what and what is the ceiling for charges. I always put what a client has paid, each customer should be aware of their own country rules. I also think the fact that we would have to refund postage too leaves it open for people who want to see how it is then return it, the seller is then out of pocket with shipping.Obviously there is always room for rules to protect the customer, but sometime EU doesn't really know how it really is. Its about time they relooked at copyright laws as I see many people selling prints of items that legally are still under copyright. I had a similar problem with a piece of my work, being reproduced and sold. Not on Etsy I hasten to add, but I have seen copyrighted work being used and sold. I will go and read up more on these changes, thanks Etsy for Valuable information.

  • textilechicken

    textilechicken from textilechicken said 5 years ago

    Thanks for the info

  • madeincrawley

    Jamie Fisher from madeincrawley said 5 years ago

    thank you for the information.

  • Marianne26

    Marianne Cook from Marianne26 said 5 years ago

    One point in the new regulations requires EU sellers to do something over which - on Etsy - we have no control. At checkout, we are no longer allowed to use simple terms such as ‘confirm’ or ‘buy now’ for the final purchase click. Instead we must use the phrase “order with obligation to pay” or something similarly 'unambiguous'. It seems to me that the present 'Submit Order' tab is even less unambiguous than the 'confirm' and 'buy now' which are quoted. This is really important - please would someone from Etsy admin address the point urgently. At the moment it seems to me we are breaking the law when someone buys from us.

  • creativeclassics

    creativeclassics from creativeclassics said 5 years ago

    Ugh, the address thing is a PITA as I don't like having mine splashed all over the internet. But I can't afford to register a PO Box address DX Still, thank you for this update, I wasn't really aware of these new laws until I saw this article.

  • GinPoodle

    Tanis Smith from GinPoodle said 5 years ago

    Oh what a palaver, I just don't want to advertise my home address. Its just getting to be too much of pain in the bum. I think I'm going to close my little shop.

  • lovethescenery

    linden from scenerylondon said 5 years ago

    Thank you for the very helpful advice

  • danasimona

    Dana Simona from littlevintagechest said 5 years ago

    Thank you so much for the information! It is very helpful, I had no idea about all this. Ugh!

  • coletteoneillhall

    Colette and Éalár from TheLittleIrishShop said 5 years ago

    Excellent article with concise, relevant information. Time to update our policies! Thanks.

  • European Craft Sellers – new EU regulations | Tin Teddy Blog said 5 years ago

    […] Etsy Blog Post on European Union Directive on Consumer Rights […]

  • zenophobe

    Tina Giuntini from BeaEvie said 5 years ago

    Thank you so much for all your work and keeping us abreast of the changes. I agree a VAT tool would be helpful...

  • bijubrill

    Sorina from BijuBrill said 5 years ago

    Hi guys, should we Europeans apply these policies only for EU state members, or we should also apply them for the US citizens aswell? Thank you :-)

  • delhicraft

    Ann from delhicraft said 5 years ago

    thx for information n share

  • YourCrochetWorld

    YourCrochetWorld from YourCrochetWorld said 5 years ago

    Well, I don't know what to say - i surely don't want to give out my personal data and I have no idea about taxes - I cannot tell people how much tax they are or are not going to pay....

  • cynthiaread1

    Cynthia Read from Thesewingsalon said 5 years ago

    This is all new to me so i very much appreciate the information. However I have been involved in logistics and agree the almost impossibility to cost in the way of these requirements. It will restrict the way i do business ie worldwide or keep within the UK!! thanks again for the info. The Sewing Salon

  • faeriegill

    Gilly from Faeriegill said 5 years ago

    Thanx for the info, not sure about having my address on display or even how to calculate the taxes as every EU country will be different for sure, I guess this is another EU control policy though

  • CheekyGeeky

    Dayz from CheekyGeeky said 5 years ago

    Thanks Susannah, I've just shared this post with my team. :)

  • annasidi

    Anna from ArtMonaLisa said 5 years ago

    Very useful informations, thank you!

  • illustrationcurly

    Amy from TheIdleBindery said 5 years ago

    Even if you restrict your business to within the UK you still need to make these changes - the UK is part of the EU.

  • ZilflarsBazaar

    Elizabeth Peters from ZilflarsBazaar said 5 years ago

    With regard to the taxes, I read that to mean (or at least I hope it means) taxes like VAT type taxes , not import taxes.

  • FashionsPast

    FASHIONS PAST from FashionsPast said 5 years ago

    Simple and easy to understand. Thank you.

  • afdphotography

    Alison from AlisonsPhotography said 5 years ago

    The taxes thing doesn't always apply. You can just state that there may be further import duties etc applied to the order which the buyer is responsible for. I'd recommend reading the legislation to get a full understanding of the changes, as the blog doesn't explain it in full. The legislation reads: "where those charges cannot reasonably be calculated in advance, the fact that such additional charges may be payable" From the paragraph; "the total price of the goods or services inclusive of taxes, or where the nature of the goods or services is such that the price cannot reasonably be calculated in advance, the manner in which the price is to be calculated, as well as, where applicable, all additional freight, delivery or postal charges or, where those charges cannot reasonably be calculated in advance, the fact that such additional charges may be payable;" Also, you cannot use a PO box as your address. It has to be the geographical location your business is ran from - if that happens to be your home, then you must state your home address.

  • afdphotography

    Alison from AlisonsPhotography said 5 years ago

    The address thing hasn't changed. Any business doing distant selling has always had to display their address since the DSRs came into place in 2000. That was 14 years ago, so I'm not sure why everyone is so surprised about this being the law?

  • BelovedEndeavour

    Deena Dee from BelovedEndeavour said 5 years ago

    Law update in an easy to understand way- Ta! BUT..... Not sure about having my address available to be people BEFORE a sale. I guess I will just have to get a PO box address.

  • RetroRed

    FlutterbyRed from FlutterbyRed said 5 years ago

    Its my understanding from the EU directive that a PO box is NOT acceptable! but please correct me if I've misinterpreted that, as i would prefer a Po box too!

  • thewoollydog

    thewoollydog from thewoollydog said 5 years ago

    Have just read on the main blog something about 'Individual members of the EU can elect not to impose these rules for transactions below 50 Euros' is there any info on that please? in other words, has the UK gone this route or are they thinking of it? Also can somebody please explain to the person doing the main etsy blog they need to put it out there that THIS ONLY APPLIES IF YOU LIVE IN AN EU COUNTRY, they have just added an extra section to their first post (this after US and Canadian sellers are writing in their droves that they now no longer intend to sell to the EU) and if you read it, it's obvious they themselves don't seem to realise it's our problem as they say they are still trying to look into it

  • alupha

    Alupha Noble from OrchidsOrchard said 5 years ago

    How do u know the customer is cancelling within 14 days upon receipt unless you have tracked or signed for for the item sent, which means higher postage implications? That means I have to offer a no-quibble period for 14 days but what if the item was broken upon return but was intact when it arrived with the buyer? Also refund needs to be issued within 14 days of receipt of item returned or evidence the item has been shipped back. What kind of evidence should be accepted? Should I state in my Policy that I only accept postage proof with trackable information as evidence? Personally I do not offer refund regarding postage but I have always put that in my Policy, does that mean if the buyer just refuses to read the policy beforehand I lose out and have to pay for their postage for returning the product? This rule regarding that I should even compensate the return postage seems unfair to me. Help!!?!?!?!?!??

  • Marianne26

    Marianne Cook from Marianne26 said 5 years ago

    I am OK with customers having my full name address and phone number when they purchase something; I only accept Paypal payments and Paypal automatically supplies this information. But there is no way as a private seller, not a company or a professional business, I can disclose my full name address and phone number in my shop policies. Does this mean I can no longer sell online through Etsy?

  • Google said 5 years ago

    Google The time to read or take a look at the subject material or web sites we have linked to below.

  • queenprimerose

    ylenia giannelli from QueenPrimerose said 5 years ago

    I have the same question of Alupha Noble , who can answer?

  • HeathersDes

    Heathers Designer Jewellery from HeathersJewelDesigns said 5 years ago

    Hiya I'm new to Etsy and this is the first thread I've read all the way through. I'm interested in reading all your questions which are all very relevant and now my question is: Why isn't Etsy answering any of them???

  • madlee09

    Mad from Maleena09 said 5 years ago

    Thank you!

  • snappyscrappy

    snappyscrappy from Snappyscrappy said 5 years ago

    Yes please Etsy, answers would be most helpful.

  • HemianGyp

    Francesca from HemianGyp said 4 years ago

    I don't offer refunds, if someone jacks my beads claiming it broke I will not be happy!Guess ill have to start looking at domain hosting sites. I didnt join etsy to rip customers off , let alone myself. The fact they do not respond to questions but have time to write articles is another red flag for me.

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