Shopping from the EU

When you buy goods or services from a trader based in another EU country, some of your rights may depend on the laws of that country. But some consumer rights laws are broadly the same across the EU. 

This includes the Consumer Contracts Regulations, while others, such as the Consumer Rights Act, depend on the legislation of a particular country. 

Check what the seller’s terms and conditions say about returns before placing your order. The law sets out the minimum requirements for returns, but some traders may choose to go further than this. 

Will my rights shopping from the EU be impacted if the UK leaves the EU with no deal?

Your right to return goods bought from an EU retailer won’t change from your existing rights in a no-deal scenario.

Unless the EU retailer is actively marketing their goods to the UK, you’ll be buying the goods under the law of that country - this applies now and would apply in the same way if the UK left the EU with no deal.

But after a no-deal Brexit, you might find it more difficult to return goods purchased from the EU because it will be more complicated to exercise your rights.

If you get into a dispute with a retailer based in the EU, Trading Standards won’t be able to help you and you’ll have to go to that country to file your claim against them in the courts.

Read our Brexit and consumer rights guide for information on this and other key areas of consumer law that would be affected by a no-deal Brexit.

You can also sign up for Brexit advice updates - Which? cuts through the noise to find the facts. Our practical and impartial consumer advice, rigorously researched and regularly delivered by email, can help you prepare for the UK leaving the EU.

The Brussels Regulation

Under the Brussels Regulation, depending on the circumstances, you may be able to argue that the laws of the country you come from can take priority over that of the seller’s. 

This means you may be able to argue that you’re protected by the Consumer Rights Act, which states that goods must be as described, of satisfactory quality and fit for purpose. 

While, in most EU countries, you’ll be entitled to get a repair or replacement for faulty goods, legislation doesn’t always give you the right to reject goods and get a refund. 

In the UK, the Consumer Rights Act allows you to reject a faulty product and get a full refund as long as you reject the product within a 30 day ‘right to reject’ period. 

The Brussels Regulation means you may be able to argue that you’re protected by this law. 

If you need to return an item to another EU country, take a look at our step-by-step guide to help you.

Returning an item bought on holiday

If you buy something while on holiday within the EU then, from a legal point of view, the contract is seen as being concluded in that country.

This means your rights will depend on the laws in that country should your product develop a fault or isn’t of satisfactory quality. 

But getting redress is now easier thanks to the European small claims court procedure

This system has been standardised across all EU countries, making it simpler for consumers to make a claim. 

Credit card payments 

If you bought something on a credit card, you may be protected by Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act

This means you may be able to claim against your credit card company to get your money back for items that cost more than £100 but not more than £30,000.

If you used your debit card or credit card, you may be able to use chargeback to recoup the cost. This is particularly useful if the item or service cost less than £100.

If you bought your item online

Online sellers from other EU countries may target their products or services to the UK market – by offering prices in pounds sterling and delivery options to the UK, for example.

If you buy from such a seller online and something goes wrong, you can argue that your UK statutory rights apply to the contract, despite it being subject to the laws of another country. 

So, if you purchased your item online from a trader from another EU country, then you should be protected by the Consumer Contracts Regulations, which is the UK law that implements the EU Consumer Rights Directive.

Online dispute resolution 

Do you have a complaint about a product or service you bought online from another EU country?

As long as you live within the EU and bought the product or service from an EU country, you can complain using the European Online Dispute Resolution Service.

This can be quicker, simpler and cheaper than going to court.

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