Purchase of goods and services
Online shopping abroad
An overview of what EU consumer protection means to you when you shop online with a seller in another EU Member State is presented below. You can also read what you should do if the purchase of an item or service online does not proceed as agreed.
You are well protected when shopping online in the EU
If you buy an item or service online from a seller in another EU Member State, there are clear rules that protect you if, for example, the seller:
- Delivers the item later than the agreed time limit
- Refuses to accept goods where you have cancelled the purchase
- Demands unjustified fees for payment by debit card
- Withholds essential information about the item before you accept the purchase
- Requires payment for other goods or services that are not included in the purchase agreement you have accepted.
If you cancel a purchase
You have the right to cancel a purchase for up to 14 days after you have received the item or service. You must return the item yourself and pay for the shipment. You are entitled to have the purchase price refunded no later than 14 days after the seller has received the item back or has received documentation that the item has been shipped.
Please note that the cooling-off period does not apply to the purchase of hotel accommodation or rental of a holiday home, for example. In such cases, you must check the rights offered by the lessor in the event of cancellation yourself.
If more money is withdrawn than agreed
If you find that the seller withdraws more money than agreed from your account, you can contact your bank in writing and ask them to refund the amount. It is important that you write to the bank as soon as possible and that you also send a complaint to the seller.
When the item has defects or deficiencies
When you shop with sellers in the EU, as a consumer you always have a legal warranty of a minimum of two years if you find defects or deficiencies in your item after you received it.
The legal warranty means that, as a minimum, you are entitled to:
- Repair of the defect or
- Exchange the item for a new equivalent item.
The seller must pay for the cost of shipping in case of a complaint. Sometimes, you may have to agree to pay for the return shipping if the seller does not, for example, send a return label.
In some cases you have the right to:
- A reduction in the price (have some of the money refunded)
- Cancel the purchase and have all the money refunded if there are significant deficiencies.
If the defect is discovered within the first 12 months after delivery, it is assumed that it was present at the time of purchase and is thus the responsibility of the seller. If you only discover the defect 12 months after receipt, it is you who must prove that it is a defect that was present when you bought the item, and for which the seller is thus responsible.
Tips if the item has defects or deficiencies
- If the parcel is damaged when you receive it, take pictures of the parcel and the damage to it before opening the parcel
- Send a written complaint to the seller as soon as possible if the item has a defect or deficiency for which you are not responsible
- If the seller has a complaints form on their website, take a screenshot before submitting it so you can document your complaint
- Inform the seller of whether you require repair, exchange, a reduction in the price or wish to cancel the purchase
- Save your receipt for the cost of shipping.
Send a written complaint to the seller as soon as possible
If you find that the seller or service provider does not fulfil the terms that have been agreed or does not recognise your rights as a buyer, send a written complaint to the seller as soon as possible and ask them to resolve the issue. It is a good idea to refer to the EU rules on consumer protection.
You have the right to shop online in all EU Member States
According to the rules on geo-blocking, EU sellers may not refuse to sell goods or most types of services to EU citizens on the basis of their nationality or place of residence. You have the right to purchase items from the online store on the same website and for the same price and terms as a local consumer. This means that an online store must not:
- Block your access to their online store
- Redirect you automatically to a Danish version of their site without your permission
- Deny you access to purchase their goods.
However, you are not entitled to demand that the online store deliver your item to Denmark. If the online store does not deliver to Denmark, you must therefore take care of transport to your home yourself.
You must also be aware that you cannot demand customer service in, for example, Danish or English if you want to buy an item on a page in another language. There is also no requirement for the online store to offer after-sales service in Denmark if this service is limited to other countries.
If you choose to shop as a local in another EU Member State, the rules in that country will generally apply, but many of the consumer rights are the same in all EU Member States. You can therefore still make use of, among other things, the 14-day cooling-off period and the right to remedies at no cost if the item is defective.
You also have the right to buy most services in other EU Member States
This can include, for example, renting a hotel room or a car, tickets for cultural experiences or purchasing digital storage services such as cloud services. You will therefore in principle have the right to receive the service at the same price as other EU citizens.
However, the rules do not in principle apply to services that provide access to copyrighted content as well as the sale of copyrighted works in non-physical form. These can include music streaming, e-books, online games and software. Furthermore, financial and audio-visual services, transport, health care and social services are not covered.
Good tips to avoid problems if you ‘shop like a local’
If you choose to shop in an online store located in another EU Member State, it is a good idea to:
- Make sure you understand the terms of your purchase before purchasing the item
- Check whether the product’s specifications fit Danish conditions, for example when buying electronic products and white goods. For example, the power plug may not fit
- Clarify what the carrier is responsible for if you arrange shipping to Denmark yourself.
If you experience that a seller discriminates against you on the basis of your nationality or residence, you must complain to the seller and draw attention to your rights as a citizen of the EU.
What am I entitled to if I do not receive the item I purchased?
If the seller does not deliver the item you have purchased by the agreed delivery time or within 30 days, in principle you are entitled to get your money back. In any case, you must complain in writing and as soon as possible to the seller.
If you have paid with a debit or credit card, you may be able to get your money back through your bank – also called a chargeback.
Before contacting your bank, you must have tried to get the seller to deliver your item. If it is not possible to find a solution with the seller, it is important that you contact your bank as soon as possible and ask the bank to reverse the payment.
Please note that there are often short deadlines for submitting a dispute for a refund of payment. The dispute time limit is set by the card provider in question.
What information should the seller give me before making an online purchase?
When you want to buy a product or service in the EU, the seller must give you correct and understandable information about the product/service before the purchase on a so-called durable medium, for example in an email. Among other things, you are entitled to the following information:
- The most important characteristics of the product or service
- The dealer’s name and physical address.
- The dealer’s email address and/or phone number
- The total price (including delivery costs, taxes and fees)
- Information on payment and delivery procedures
- Cooling-off period
- Legal warranty
- Duration of the agreement (for subscriptions)
- Available after-sales service
- Where and how you can complain (dispute resolution schemes)
- Trade register number (CVR no.).
The terms of the agreement must be written in clear and comprehensible language, and must not contain unreasonable contractual terms. Contractual terms that are unfair under EU law have no binding effect on consumers.
As a consumer, you will gain extended rights if there is information that the seller does not give you before making an online purchase. If the seller does not state before the purchase and in writing:
- The full price of the item, then you are not obliged to pay any additional expenses
- That you have a 14-day cooling-off period, then the cooling-off period only starts to run from the time the seller gives you said information
- That you have a cooling-off period, you will then be able to cancel the purchase for up to 12 months and 14 days after you received the item
- That you must pay for the return of the item in the event of cancellation, then you do not have to pay for the return shipment.
What are my rights when making purchases in online stores outside the EU?
Online stores outside the EU that sell goods or services to EU consumers are usually also covered by the EU rules on consumer rights.
However, you should be aware that it can be difficult to assert your rights against dealers located outside the EU.
How can I tell where the online store is located?
If you are in doubt about where an online store is located, you can check the country in which the seller is registered. An Internet address ending in “.eu”, “.dk” or “.de” etc. does NOT guarantee that the seller is established – and registered – in the EU. You can often find information about the seller by searching on Google or Who.is. At cvr.dk you can see if a company is Danish.
Please note that you must pay Danish VAT when buying goods outside the EU. You may also find that you have to pay customs duties on the purchase of goods outside the EU.
Read more about the rules at SKAT’s website (skat.dk).
What should I do if a company in the EU owes me money?
If you are owed money by a seller in another EU Member State, and it is taking time to get the money back, it is not necessarily due to malice on the part of the seller.
EU Member States have different banking systems, and this means that the seller cannot use your account and registration number, card number or mobile payment.
You will need to provide the following information to the seller:
- The name of your bank
- Full name of account holder
- The IBAN number and the BIC number.
Do not provide your account and registration number or other numbers because they may confuse matters.
IBAN and BIC
IBAN stands for International Banking Account Number. This is the international way to enter an account number. The IBAN number is 18 digits and in Denmark it always starts with DK.
BIC stands for Bank Identifier Code. The BIC code is eight or eleven characters. The first six characters are always letters, while the rest can be both letters and/or numbers. It is also called a SWIFT code in some places, which is the former designation.
You can, for example, find your IBAN number and BIC number in your online bank or on an account statement. You can also contact your bank and ask them to provide them or send them to you.
You can get free help with your complaint from ECC Denmark if the seller refuses to refund the amount.
Which are the best payment methods for online purchases?
Once you have found a website you want to shop at, check that the website address begins with “https://” and that a “padlock” icon is displayed before the address. By doing so, you can assume that you can safely enter your card details when paying.
When you want to shop on a website, the payment options offered should be stated on the website. The information must be available before you accept a purchase.
Credit or debit cards are usually the safest method
It is usually safest to pay with a credit or debit card, where you enter the card number, expiration date and card security code. Your personal information is then protected from misuse.
If you have paid by debit card, your card issuer can help you have the money refunded to your account. In many cases, you can get your money back through your card issuer if, for example:
- The seller charges a higher amount than you have agreed
- The seller has not delivered your item
- You have exercised your cooling-off period before the item is delivered.
However, the bank can only refund your money if you have complained in writing to the seller first and if you have not waited a long time to submit the complaint.
If you are in doubt whether your card issuer can help refund money in your specific case, always contact the card issuer for clarification.
If you choose to pay by bank transfer prior to delivery, the bank cannot help you have the money refunded and it can be difficult to get your money back if the seller does not agree.
How long does the seller have to deliver when I buy an item online?
When you order goods online, according to the consumer protection rules, the seller must deliver within 30 days, unless you have agreed otherwise. If the seller has stated a different delivery time at the time of purchase, for example a delivery time of five working days, then this is the applicable deadline.
Certain product groups are exempt from the delivery deadline of 30 days, for example the purchase of food and groceries.
If the seller has not sent the item so that you receive it before the delivery deadline expires, then you must pursue the seller and, if appropriate, agree on a new deadline. If the seller then does not fulfil the agreement within the deadline, you can cancel the purchase and get your money back.
If you choose to cancel the purchase, you must inform the seller in writing about this – but do not wait too long. The seller must refund your money as soon as possible when he or she receives your refund request.
Note that you do not have to provide an account number to a seller when you want your money back. You must inform the seller of the following:
- The name of your bank
- Full name of account holder
- The IBAN number and the BIC number. (You’ll find the numbers via your online bank or on a bank statement)
Is the seller allowed to deduct a larger amount than stated?
The seller may not deduct more money than you have agreed in connection with the purchase. Before accepting the purchase, the seller must state the full price including VAT, shipping and fees. Save documentation for the price you have agreed.
If you have used your debit card for an online purchase and the seller has deducted a larger amount than you have given permission for, you are protected by the Payment Services Act. This means that you can contact your bank and ask for a refund of the amount that you have not given the seller permission to deduct.
Before contacting your bank, try to get the seller to refund the amount. If it is not possible to find a solution with the seller, it is important that you contact your bank as soon as possible.
There are time limits for submitting a dispute for the reversal of a payment. The dispute time limit is set by the card provider in question. For Dankort, if you submit a dispute as soon as possible, for example within 14 days of the amount being deducted from your card, you can be sure that your objection is within the time limit.
The process is as follows:
- Contact the bank as soon as possible after you become aware that the seller will not refund the amount
- If the bank rejects your request, you can complain to the Danish Financial Complaint Board
- Read more about dispute options for payment by debit card at Finance Denmark’s home page.
What is the difference between a legal warranty and a guarantee?
A legal warranty is your statutory right, while a guarantee is an additional service that the seller or manufacturer can offer. The guarantee provides better terms than the rights you already have under the legal warranty.
The legal warranty applies when you buy goods from a seller in the EU, Norway and Iceland. It gives you some rights against the seller if there is a defect or deficiency in the item for which you are not responsible.
The legal warranty applies for a minimum of two years from the time the item is delivered. The time limit is longer in some countries. Regardless of the length of the time limit, a seller can never deprive you of the right to submit a complaint for a minimum of two years.
With regard to the legal warranty, in principle it is the consumer who must prove that the defect was present at the time of delivery. However, it will be assumed that the defect was present at the time of delivery for the first 12 months. If you only discover the defect 12 months after receipt, it is you who must prove that it is a defect that was present when you bought the item, and for which the seller is thus responsible.
A guarantee is voluntary. The guarantor – the seller or the manufacturer – can therefore also decide what is covered by a guarantee themselves. The guarantee does not replace your legal warranty, but it is a supplement that should put you in a better position than your statutory right.
If you discover a defect in the item for which you believe the seller is responsible, always contact the seller and submit a complaint about the defect, regardless of whether the defect is covered by a guarantee. It is important that you submit a complaint as soon as possible once you have identified the defect.
- Always keep both the purchase receipt and guarantee certificate
- Always contact the seller if the item has a defect for which you believe the seller is responsible. If you have to use a complaints form on the seller’s website, take a screenshot before submitting it so you can document your complaint.
Do I have to pay for an item that I didn’t order?
You do not have to pay for items that you didn’t order. However, you cannot simply neglect to pick up the item. You must inform the seller that you didn’t order the item.
If you receive a parcel that you didn’t order, you must notify the sender as soon as possible that you have received the item in question by mistake and that it can be picked up at your place of residence. It is a good idea to contact the sender in writing so that you can later prove that you have submitted a complaint. If the sender maintains that you have ordered the item, the sender must document this.
- Do not simply return the parcel
- Send an email to the sender and tell them that you have received a parcel that you didn’t order. If you have to use complete a contact form on the seller’s website, take a screenshot before submitting it so you can document your correspondence
- If the sender maintains that you have ordered the parcel, you must request documentation
- If you didn’t order the parcel and the sender states in writing that they will not pick up the parcel, then you can do what you want with it.
Do I have to pay tax if I buy alcohol or tobacco online in another country?
If you buy alcohol, batteries, chocolate, liquorice, coffee, tea, almonds and tobacco products online from a seller in, for example, Germany, you must pay excise duty. The price of your goods will thus be higher than the one stated on the seller’s website.
You can find the rules for how to inform SKAT about your purchase on the SKAT website. You will also find an overview of the items that are subject to excise duty.
What can I do to avoid fake websites?
Not all websites are what they claim to be. Some websites have been created for the purpose of enticing consumers to pay for goods they never receive. Other websites entice the consumer to, for example, provide bank account or credit card information, which a hacker can then use to transfer money from your account or buy goods with your money.
Check the seller’s background
Always research an online store that you are not familiar with before making a purchase. Even if there is Danish text on the website, or it has a .dk domain name, it can easily be a scam website located in, for example, China. This means that you will not be covered by EU consumer protection rules if you buy goods on the website.
Online stores have a duty to provide a range of information on the website that you should check before shopping. This includes, for example, information about the goods, legal warranty and cooling-off period, contact information and the procedure for submitting complaints.
If this information does not appear on the seller’s website, then the seller may have something to hide and you should consider shopping elsewhere.
Tips before you buy online
- Check the seller’s identity, contact information and address
- Check if you can find information about the most important characteristics of an item
- Find seller information by searching on Google or elsewhere
- Investigate prices, fees and possible additional costs
- Check the seller’s sales and delivery conditions and, if applicable, the duration of the agreement
- Check whether there is a cooling-off period and what conditions apply
- Check if you can pay with a debit card, for example VISA/Dankort
Once you have entered into the agreement with the seller, you must receive a confirmation of the agreement by email.