KNOWLEDGE BASE Ecommerce Laws
Ecommerce Laws in the Netherlands
What laws and regulations apply?
Books 6 and 7 of the Dutch Civil Code (Burgerlijk Wetboek) regulate sales transactions, including distance selling, e.g., online, telephone, and fax in the Netherlands.
To whom and what does the Dutch Civil Code apply?
The Code applies to any company doing business with customers in the Netherlands, regardless of where the company is located.
How do I comply with the Dutch Civil Code?
Information required on website
All websites must provide specific information, including your company’s identification in a clear and accessible place. Required information includes an address and your Chamber of Commerce number. You must also make your product or service prices and features available, as well as payment and delivery details.
All Dutch companies and foreign companies that have staff in the Netherlands are required to register their company in the Business Register of the Chamber of Commerce.
When you sell products or services, you enter into a purchase agreement, even if it’s just an in-shop purchase without a formal, written agreement. Books 6 and 7 of the Dutch Civil Code regulate sales transactions, including purchase agreements, in the Netherlands.
When you enter into a purchase agreement with a customer (even if it is not written) a payment period is usually involved. Payment details are often included in a company’s terms and conditions. There are separate, more specific payment rules that regulate payment in B2B transactions.
If a customer does not pay you on time or at all, you are permitted to charge a standard fee for collection costs and statutory interest. If your customer is a consumer, as opposed to another business, you are required to send a demand for payment before you start a collection process.
Automatic renewal subscriptions
To protect consumers, the Netherlands does not allow companies to automatically renew subscriptions. This rule does not apply to B2B transactions, which are governed by Books 6 and 7 of the Dutch Civil Code. Newspaper, magazine, and periodical subscriptions can be renewed for a three month period only.
The following rules apply to subscription changes and cancellations:
After the initial contract period, you are not allowed to automatically renew a customer’s subscription for another fixed term.
You are allowed to change a fixed agreement to an agreement for an indefinite period, as long as your customers can cancel it at any time with only a month’s notice.
You are not allowed to make customers cancel the agreement at any given moment.
Your customers must be able to cancel the agreement in exactly the same way they made the agreement.
Exchanges, returns, and refunds
In some situations, your customers have the right to cancel their order within a specific time period (cancellation period). These rights depend on the circumstances.
Sales at a shop
There is no cancellation period requirement for products sold in a shop. It is best practice to have terms and conditions that dictate your cancellation policy. This can include your exchange, refund, or in-store credit policy. If you have terms and conditions that apply to the sale of your goods, although you are not required to provide them in writing, you must inform your customer of the terms and conditions before concluding the sale.
You are not required to replace or exchange goods that customers return but you may want to. If you do, the receipt must clearly state:
the conditions that apply to the exchange of goods;
if a refund is available; and
when the exchange period expires.
If you sell products through the internet, by telephone, post, or fax, (long distance sales) you are required to offer your customers at least a 14-day cancellation period. The 14-day period starts when the customer receives the product. Your customers can return the product(s) within this period without stating a reason. You can require that they pay the return costs, but you must refund the purchase price and delivery charges. There are exceptions to this rule, which include travel and custom made products. These rules do not apply to the sale of products to other businesses.
In the Netherlands, everyone is legally entitled to a sound product. In addition to this required product guarantee:
The manufacturer of a product may offer a manufacturer’s guarantee
Sometimes a buyer can extend a guarantee. This extended guarantee often means a right to repair or replacement
There is no fixed statutory guarantee period. Your customers must be able to use the product in a normal way for the useful life of the product. If you decide to offer an additional guarantee, you must provide your customers with a written or digital copy. This guarantee can be included in your terms and conditions.
If the product is or becomes defective during the average useful life, the purchaser is entitled to have it repaired or replaced. If the product repair is unreasonably expensive and it cannot be replaced, the purchaser may cancel the sale in writing and expect a full refund.
What are the risks of noncompliance?
The Dutch Civil Code is legally binding and violations will have legal consequences, which vary based on the violation, but can include fines and penalties.
KNOWLEDGE BASE Ecommerce Laws