This section is part of a full article on excise duties :
1- Definition of “Alcoholic Beverages

2- From a tax point of view :
2.1- Distance selling of alcoholic beverages
2.2- Excise duties via local tax representative
2.3- Calculate excise duties to pay in destination / to claim in your own country
2.4- Drawback/refund of excise duties

3- Alcohol online market
3.1- Circulation of cross-border orders
3.2- Labelling cross-border orders (ingredients)
3.3- Labelling alcohol with destination duty stamps
3.4- Contractual duties of e-retailers and Consumer’s rights
3.5- Monopoly
3.6- Packaging wastes compliance

Legal framework of distance contracts

Consumer rights DIRECTIVE 2011/83/EU OF THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT AND OF THE COUNCIL of 25 October 2011.

The Directive was completed by the European Union (Consumer Information, Cancellation and Other Rights) Regulations 2013 (SI 484/2013) with effect from 13 June 2014.

Further guidance is available here.

Directive overview for distance contracts


The directive applies to all contracts concluded between a ‘consumer’ and a ‘trader’, this is to say a private individual buying for individual purposes and a business offering goods or services.

It also provides and defines terms and specifies that EU countries may not diverge from the directive by imposing more or less stringent provisions.

The same rights across the EU

It aligns and harmonises national consumer rules, wherever consumers shop in the EU:

Wherever you sell a product or service in the EU, the trader must provide customers with clear, correct, and understandable information about the product or service before the purchase.

This contract information should include

Some of this information may not have to be provided explicitly, if it is apparent from the context – such as the characteristics of a product which are displayed on a shelf in a shop.

If buying online, by telephone, by mail order catalogue, or from a door-to-door salesperson, you must provide the following detailed information before you make a purchase:

For such purchases, you must bear in mind that you do not have to pay any delivery costs or other charges of which you were not informed.

Prior information forms part of the contract unless you and the trader jointly agree on changes to the terms given on, for example, the trader’s website.

Contracts must be written in plain and understandable language and cannot contain unfair contract terms.

Right to cancel online purchases

The right to cancel within 14 days and return purchases made outside shops (online, by phone, or mail order)

In the EU: the right to return these purchases within 14 days for a full refund, for any reason – even if you simply changed your mind.

Traders must give the total cost of the product or service, including any extra fees.

The 14-day ‘cooling off’ period does not apply to all your purchases. Some of the exemptions that will affect you are

Please note that this list is not exhaustive.

Distance contracts when off-premise

Lay down information requirements for distance and off-premise contracts, including information about the functionality and interoperability of digital content. It regulates the right of withdrawal (length of the withdrawal period, procedure and effects of the withdrawal), including a standard withdrawal form (Annex I(B)) that traders must provide and consumers may use to notify a withdrawal from the contract.

Delivery and risk of distance contracts

Rules on delivery and passing of risk applicable to contracts for the sale of goods as well as certain rules applicable to all types of consumer contracts.

These include

Fair pricing

As an EU national customer can’t be charged a higher price when buying products or services just because of nationality or country of residence. Some price differences can be justified, if they follow an objective criteria other than nationality.

Specific to alcoholic beverages and tobacco

Selling tobacco products or alcoholic drinks online from another EU country, the price will include excise duties, regardless of the quantity and even if the goods are a gift.

The trader is responsible for paying the excise duty due in the EU country of destination.

Customers should therefore expect the price for these types of goods to reflect the cost of excise duty.

If the price is very low, customers should check with the seller if the duty has been paid before purchase. If the seller hasn’t paid the excise duty, customs can seize the goods on arrival or the customer may have to pay the excise duty. The seller must pay the necessary excise duty in the EU country of destination.

What about VAT?

Private individual shopping in the EU should only pay VAT once, in the country where purchase is delivered.

The only condition is that purchases must be for their own or family’s personal use, and not intended for resale.

Directives allow member states to make choices regarding specific articles; find updated information here.

The BEUC (The European Consumer Organisation) made propositions in October 2018, to empower consumer’s right.

Find more topics about compliance :

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