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Selling online in the EU part two – Understanding the EU legal framework

Get guidance and practical information to successfully export your products via e-commerce to the European Union (EU) market. Request of a full copy of our regulatory guide at:

Have you already read our market report for Canadian SMEs and you are now mapping the EU regulations applicable to your company? The Trade Commissioner Service (TCS) developed a guide that will help you identify your regulatory obligations and understand how to comply with them, depending on whether you decide to use on an online marketplace or an independent website.

In particular, our guide addresses the following areas and questions.  

Value Added Tax (VAT)

  • What is VAT?
  • Should I register with European VAT tax authorities, and in which country(ies)?
  • How does VAT apply to services?
  • How does VAT apply to goods made or stored in the EU?
  • How does VAT apply to non-EU goods entering the EU market? 


  • How do the 27 Member States apply tariffs on goods?
  • How do they calculate customs duties?
  • How can you prepare for customs clearance? What is an Importer of Record and an EORI number?
  • Will you need to pay excise duties?   

Consumer law

  • As a Canadian company selling to EU/European Economic Area (EEA) customers, under what conditions do the EU consumer rules may (or may not) apply to my business? What are the main advantages and risks if I apply EU consumer and contracting rules?
  • How to implement the rights of my EU/EEA consumers?
  • What are unfair commercial practices and how can they be avoided?
  • How do online contracting rules work in the EU/EEA? What will be my main obligations and liabilities if I apply the EU regime?
  • What kind of information should I clearly report to my EU/EEA customers? 

Geoblocking & geodiscrimination

  • Do the rules on geo-blocking and geo-discrimination apply to my business?
  • What constitutes an ‘unjustified’ form of geo-blocking or geo-discrimination?
  • Can I restrict online billing or delivery to my EU/EEA customers in specific countries?
  • How should I adjust my online shopping portal, so as to comply with the rules? 

Payments and transactions

  • How to effect payments and transactions from one European country to another?
  • What is the cost of intra-EU/EEA transactions?
  • How do I benefit from Single Euro Payments Area (SEPA) as a seller, even if I am not based in the EU/EEA?
  • Do I have to comply with EU payment rules, and how? 

Data protection and privacy

  • Do the EU rules on personal data protection apply to my business?
  • How can I comply with EU/EEA personal data protection rules?
  • For what purposes can I use my European customers’ personal data? Can I send promotional information via email to my European customers?
  • Can I transfer EU/EEA residents’ personal data outside the EU/EEA?
  • What are my rights and obligations when dealing with non-personal data in the EU/EEA?
  • Should I comply with EU electronic privacy rules and how? 

Intellectual Property (IP)

  • Does IP law apply to e-commerce?
  • What are trademarks, industrial designs and patents? How and where can I apply?
  • What protection does registration provide?
  • What are trade secrets?
  • How are copyrights protected in Europe?
  • What is the consequence of an IP right infringement? 

How the Canada-European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) facilitate e-commerce between Canada and the EU

  • What is the scope of application of CETA?
  • How does CETA affect e-commerce in practice? 


This guide:

  • provides general information to readers who take full responsibility for its use
  • is not a substitute for professional or legal advice 

The Government of Canada:

  • is not responsible for errors or omissions or for results arising from the use of the information in this guide
  • has not verified the contents of third-party websites
  • does not endorse, warrant, promote or recommend any services or products that may be provided or accessed through third-party websites or any person or body that may provide them
  • has not issued or caused to be issued any advertisements that may appear on these websites 

Get help from the Trade Commissioner Service

The guide covers legislation harmonized by the EU, but does not describe specific rules that apply within individual EU member states. Please contact the trade section of the Mission of Canada to the European Union at if you have specific questions or are facing issues about an EU-level regulation or legislation. Contact the Trade Commissioner Service for information about country-specific legislation, opportunities or potential barriers to trade. Trade Commissioners in one of our 24 offices in the EU will assist you.

Register a trade barrier you have encountered in an EU market with Global Affairs Canada.

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