Purchase of goods and services

Rules for the purchase and sale of counterfeit goods in Denmark and the EU

Here you can read about the rules concerning counterfeit goods in Denmark and in the other EU countries. You can also learn what you should pay special attention to with regard to counterfeit goods. The FAQ includes tips on how to avoid falling victim to counterfeit goods scams from fake online stores.

There are no common rules for the purchase of counterfeit goods in the EU. In Denmark, you are allowed to own and buy counterfeit goods for private use. It is also permitted to bring counterfeit goods into Denmark which were purchased on a visit to another EU country, but it is illegal to sell counterfeit goods.

Buying counterfeit goods online

It is not illegal to buy counterfeit goods online from another EU country.

If you buy counterfeit goods online in a country outside the EU, you must be aware that the Danish Tax Agency (SKAT) has the right to withhold the goods. It will then be up to the company with the rights to the original item to decide whether to take legal action to claim compensation.

Buying counterfeit goods while travelling

In some countries it is illegal to buy and bring in counterfeit goods. For example, you may risk a fine in Italy. You should therefore know the rules for counterfeit goods in the country in which you are travelling.

If you buy counterfeit goods on a trip to a country outside the EU, you may also take them to Denmark if the value does not exceed DKK 3,250 and you have them in your luggage.

Resale of counterfeit goods

It is not permitted to sell counterfeit goods in Denmark, regardless of whether you have bought the counterfeit goods in Denmark or another country. The sale of counterfeit goods in Denmark is punishable by a fine.

There are no common rules for trade in counterfeit goods in the EU. In some countries, such as France, Portugal and Italy, it is illegal and you can risk heavy fines if you buy or are in possession of counterfeit goods.

What should I keep an eye on if I want to avoid counterfeit goods on the internet?

Scammers are getting better and better at imitating genuine websites. If an offer sounds too good to be true, it probably is. In the next section you will find tips on spotting fake websites and counterfeit goods.

  • Pay close attention to the website address. Authorised retailers of branded goods rarely name their websites with a design name combined with words such as sale or outlet, e.g. pantonstoleoutlet.dk.
  • Check the dealer’s home country. A Danish internet address (.dk) can easily conceal a dealer who is established abroad, e.g. in China or the USA. You can search on DK Hostmaster or Whois.com for information about the company.
  • Strange language or odd prices. Many fake online stores are machine translated and this often results in poor language with grammatical errors and misspelled words - or odd prices such as EUR 355.87. Luxury brands are rarely on special offer and especially not at bargain-basement prices. If heavily discounted goods are advertised, you should therefore be vigilant.
  • Ask for proof that a product is genuine. Some vendors of fake goods use images of genuine goods and put their products for sale at a price close to the price of the original product to camouflage that their products are not genuine. With branded goods, ask the dealer for proof they are genuine.
  • What do other consumers have to say? Check if other consumers have experienced being cheated and been sold counterfeit goods by the online store. You can often find useful information on online review sites.
  • Look for information on the "About" Online stores in Denmark and the EU are obliged to provide you with certain information about the store, payment options, right to cancel etc. Genuine stores often tell the story of their business on the "About" page. If that story is missing, it suggests that it could be a "scam shop".
  • Find contact information. Serious online stores are happy to provide the company name, address, company registration number, telephone number and email address. Consider finding another page to shop on if the vendor does not display their contact information on the website.

Pay by debit or credit card

It is usually safest to pay with an international debit or credit card, where you enter the card number and expiry date. When you pay by this method, the bank can refund the money if the item does not show up, for example.

Labelling schemes

The e-mark is a voluntary labelling scheme for secure online shopping, founded by organisations such as the Danish Consumer Council and the Danish Chamber of Commerce. At emaerket.dk you can search for the Danish online stores that are e-marked and fulfil the e-mark's consumer protection requirements. 

Here you can read about similar labelling schemes in other EU countries.

Sikker Shopping (Secure Shopping)

Sikker Shopping is a new free digital tool that can help you steer clear of scam websites. When using the program, a red warning icon will appear in your search results for the online stores that e-mark suspects are fake.

The program was launched by e-mark, with support from TrygFonden. You can download it for free from the Chrome Web Store to your browser on your computer.

Read more about Sikker Shopping here (in Danish, emaerket.dk)

Can I buy a counterfeit item online in another country?

You can legally buy counterfeit goods online from abroad for private use. In Denmark, it is not illegal to own counterfeit goods, but it is illegal to sell them, and doing so can be punishable with a fine.

If you buy counterfeit goods online in a country outside the EU, you must be aware that the Danish Tax Agency (SKAT) has the right to withhold the goods. The company with the rights to the original item can then take legal action against you and demand compensation if there is a suspicion that the item has been resold.

There are no common rules for the purchase of counterfeit goods in the EU, so it can be risky business.

Checklist

  • Investigate where the item is sent from
  • Familiarise yourself with the rules for counterfeit goods.

Is it legal to buy or bring back counterfeit goods when travelling in the EU?

There are no common rules for the purchase and use of counterfeit goods in the EU. The individual countries decide for themselves whether it is legal for you as a consumer to buy or be in possession of counterfeit goods.

In some EU countries it is illegal to buy or be in possession of counterfeit goods, and your counterfeit goods can be confiscated and you risk being fined for buying or being in possession of them. This is the case for example in Italy, France and Portugal. This also applies even if you have legally purchased the counterfeit goods in another country.

Before you travel to Europe, you must therefore be aware of whether you are bringing counterfeit goods with you and whether this will be a violation of the laws of the country you are traveling to or through.

It is permitted to bring counterfeit goods into Denmark which were purchased on a visit to another EU country if they are for private use. If the authorities assess that your goods are not for private use, they can withhold the goods. If you buy counterfeit goods on a trip to a country outside the EU, you may also take them to Denmark if the value of the items does not exceed DKK 3,250 and you have them in your luggage. You must be able to present a receipt.

Checklist

  • Check the rules for counterfeit goods in the countries in which you travel
  • Avoid bringing counterfeit goods to other countries
  • Be careful when buying counterfeit goods when travelling.

Can I resell counterfeit goods?

It is not permitted to sell counterfeit goods in Denmark, regardless of whether you have bought the counterfeit goods in Denmark or another country. The sale of counterfeit goods in Denmark is punishable by a fine.

There are no common rules for trade in counterfeit goods in the EU. In some countries, such as France, Portugal and Italy, it is illegal and you can risk heavy fines if you buy or are in possession of counterfeit goods.

What should I do if the bag I bought turns out to be a copy?

Many counterfeit goods are marketed very credibly and sold at a high price. You can thus easily be fooled into thinking that the product you purchased is genuine.

If you have not been informed that the product is a counterfeit item and the marketing and price appear credible, the agreement will be invalid because you purchased the item in the belief that it was genuine. You will therefore be entitled to get your money back including what you paid for the shipping.

Counterfeit goods purchased in the EU:

If you bought a counterfeit product that you thought was genuine in an EU country, you are entitled to either get your money back or to receive the genuine product. You can also choose to exercise your cooling-off period. But if you do so you will have to pay to send the item back to the vendor.

Counterfeit goods purchased outside the EU:

If you have bought a counterfeit product outside the EU, for example in the USA or China, you cannot be sure of having the same rights.

No matter where you bought the item, you should complain in writing to the vendor as soon as possible and demand the original item or your money back.

Checklist

  • Use your cooling-off period if you bought the goods within the EU.
  • Complain to the vendor as soon as possible. If you have to use a complaints form on the vendor’s website, take a screenshot before submitting it so you can document your complaint
  • Contact your bank. They may be able to refund the money from the purchase to your account
  • Complain to ECC Denmark if the item was purchased within the EU.

Is it safe to buy counterfeit goods?

Counterfeit goods can pose a risk to your safety and health as they are not subject to the same regulatory controls as the original product. It is likely that the materials used for the counterfeit goods do not comply with applicable safety standards and that they are not of the same quality as the materials used in the genuine version.

There are examples of fake make-up which was made with ingredients such as rat poison and faeces, and toys full of harmful phthalates.

If you are considering buying counterfeit goods online, pay special attention to:

  • Legality - some product categories require a special permit from the authorities, for example medicines
  • Product safety - some counterfeit goods do not comply with the applicable legal requirements for production, materials or safety. They can therefore pose a safety risk when they are used. For example, they might cause electric shocks or ignite
  • Health hazards – counterfeit goods are not subject to the same controls as genuine goods approved in Denmark. There may therefore be a health risk in buying and consuming medicines or supplements that are not tested by the Danish authorities.

Learn more about the safety risks of using counterfeit goods at jegvælgerægte.dk.

Contact ECC Denmark

If you have questions about buying and trading in counterfeit goods you can contact European Consumer Centre Denmark for guidance