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4 March 2021

How to return an item bought from an EU country

If something goes wrong with a product or service bought from another EU country you're protected by the Consumer Contracts Regulations and the Consumer Rights Act.
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Which?Editorial team

The rules on returns 

Your consumer rights when shopping online are largely the same, but it is unlikely you will be able to enforce your rights in the EU via UK courts 

Unless the EU retailer is actively marketing their goods to the UK, you’ll be buying the goods under the law of that country

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.

When you shop online, read the terms and conditions to see what governing law applies, as you won't be protected in the same way as if you bought from a UK retailer. 

If you're buying from a marketplace, be aware that sellers can be from all over the world.

Key Information

Be aware: customs forms and charges for returns

Any parcels containing goods or gifts sent from England, Scotland or Wales to the EU should have a customs declaration form attached to it. 

The type of customs form you will have to complete will depend on the contents and value of your parcel

You will be required to write your name, surname and address, a clear description of the contents and whether it is a gift, sold or returned goods, among other things. 

If you're posting a parcel from Northern Ireland to the EU you do not need to attach a customs declaration form, though one is still needed for parcels going to non-EU destinations.

1 Contact the EU seller

If an item you’ve purchased from another EU country develops a fault, isn't fit for purpose or you simply want to return it, the first step is to contact the seller. 

They might be able to rectify the problem easily.  

When you contact the seller be sure to send a copy of your proof of purchase. This may be a receipt, an order confirmation or even a bank statement.

2 Claim using chargeback 

Chargeback works by asking your bank to reverse a transaction  - usually clawing money back from a retailer and putting it back into your account from a retailer

The retailer can dispute a chargeback with the bank if it can prove the chargeback is invalid.

3 Claim on your credit card

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

This means you can claim against your credit card company to get your money back for items that cost more than £100 up to £30,000.

If you used your debit card, or the item cost less than £100 and you paid by credit card, you may be able to use chargeback to recoup the cost.

4 Claim via PayPal

If you paid using PayPal, you can raise a ‘dispute’ with the seller, as long as this is within 45 days of the payment. 

If this isn't resolved within 20 days, you can escalate the dispute, and raise a claim under the PayPal Protection Scheme.