In February 2018, the Council of the EU adopted the geo-blocking regulation that prevents discrimination in online purchases, based on customers’ nationality, place of residence or business address.
According to this regulation, if your business is based in the EU, you must make it possible for people from all EU Member States to buy from your online shop. You are not obliged to ship your goods all across the EU though. If you do not comply with the new rules, your online store may be banned under EU law.
Read on to learn, whether your business is affected by the new geo-blocking regulation and how to comply with it.
Who is affected?
The geo-blocking regulation doesn’t affect you if you are based outside the EU and do not sell to EU Member States.
The geo-blocking regulation may affect you if you are based outside the EU, but you do sell to EU Member States. We highly recommend consulting with a legal adviser whether you need to comply with the new regulation under these conditions.
The geo-blocking regulation doesn’t affect you if your shop is based in the EU and:
- you sell digital goods that represent copyright-protected content, such as music streaming services, e-books, online games, and software;
- you provide financial, audio-visual, transport, healthcare, and social services.
The geo-blocking regulation affects you, if your shop is based in the EU and:
- you sell tangible goods that you either deliver to a Member State or allow for pickup at an agreed location;
- you sell electronically supplied services such as cloud, data warehousing, website hosting and firewall services;
- you provide services that a customer can receive in the country where you operate, such as hotel accommodation, car rentals, entry tickets to various events and places of interest.
How does the new regulation affect me?
If your business is subject to the geo-blocking regulation, you need to pay your attention to the following aspects of your online store:
- Access to your online store: you must allow customers from all EU Member States to browse your online store and shop there. It is possible in your Ecwid online store by default.
- Pricing and purchase conditions: your prices, product offers, and other purchase conditions cannot change automatically based on customer’s IP address, delivery/billing address or payment means. By default, you do not have this option in your Ecwid store.
Still, you can offer different general purchase conditions, including prices, and target your customers in specific locations. For example, you can have several online stores with different pricing, but all EU customers should be able to buy from all your stores.
- Shipping address: you must allow customers to specify any EU Member State in the delivery address at checkout. However, you do not have to ship your goods all across the EU.
If you do not ship to some EU Member States, customers from these areas should be able to place an order in your store and either pick it up from your premises or arrange the delivery themselves.
- Billing address: you must allow customers to specify any EU Member State in the billing address during checkout. By default, your online store allows entering any country in the billing address.
How do I make my store compliant with the new regulation?
To make your online store compliant with the geo-blocking regulation:
- Define the destination zones to which you deliver your goods.
- Set up the delivery methods you would like to offer for each destination zone.
- Revise your Terms of Service to indicate what countries you ship or do not ship to in the EU. If a customer orders from outside your delivery areas, make sure they know who is responsible for arranging the delivery.
- Check that you offer at least one payment method that is available all across the EU.
Note: if you do not deliver to some EU Member States, you can offer a pickup option to customers from those countries or indicate any restrictions on the store’s Shipping & Payment Info page.
Tip: if you accept credit cards, you can choose one of the built-in payment providers that operate in all EU Member States.