Online and distance selling

2. Online selling

As well as the rules for distance selling, there are extra rules for selling online.

Follow the VAT rules and reporting rules if you’re selling in other EU countries.

Before an order is placed

You must:

  • make it clear to customers they have to pay when they place an order (for example, a ‘pay now’ button)
  • display clearly how customers can pay and include delivery options and costs
  • list the steps involved in a customer placing an order
  • take reasonable steps to let customers correct errors in their order
  • let customers know what languages are available
  • make sure customers can store and reproduce your terms and conditions, for example these can be downloaded and printed off
  • give your email address
  • give your VAT number (if your business is registered for VAT)
  • give the cost of using phone lines or other communication to complete the contract where it will cost more than the basic rate
  • give a description of your goods, services or digital content - include as much information as you can
  • give the total price or how this will be calculated
  • give the total delivery cost or how this will be calculated
  • tell them the minimum length of their contract
  • give any conditions for ending rolling contracts or contracts with no clear end date

You must confirm the contract as soon as possible, for example with an email.

Selling digital services

There are extra rules for selling digital services which customers download or stream online, including:

  • computer games
  • in-game purchases
  • TV and film
  • books
  • computer programs
  • mobile phone apps

Downloads and streaming services

If you supply downloads or streaming services, you must:

  • get the customer to confirm before they download or stream content that they are aware they’ll lose their 14 day right to cancel
  • get the customer to agree to an instant download before they start the download
  • include this information in your confirmation of the contract, along with the other pre-contract information

If you don’t follow these rules, the customer will keep their 14 day right to cancel without paying.

After an order is placed

You must:

  • confirm the contract as soon as possible and no later than when goods are delivered, a service starts or digital content is downloaded (for example, an email must be sent when content is downloaded even if it doesn’t arrive at the same time)
  • provide a copy of the contract on paper, by email or another format the customer can save for future reference
  • deliver the goods within 30 days, unless you’ve agreed otherwise with the customer

VAT rules in the EU

There are special rules on registering for VAT if you sell digital services to customers in other EU countries.