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Europe Tax and Regulatory Considerations

The VAT

The VAT in the European Union is a consumption tax assessed on the value added to goods and services. It applies to goods and service that are bought and sold for use or consumption in the European Community. Thus, goods that are sold for export or services that are sold to customers abroad are normally not subject to VAT. Imports into the European Union are taxed.

Value Added Tax is:

  • A general tax that applies to all commercial activities involving the production and distribution of goods.
  • A consumption tax.
  • Charged as a percentage of price, which means that the actual tax burden is visible at each stage in the production and distribution chain.
  • Collected fractionally, through a system of partial payments whereby taxable persons (that is, VAT-registered businesses) deduct the amount of tax they have paid from the VAT they have collected on purchases for their business activities. This mechanism ensures that the tax is neutral regardless of how many transactions are involved.
  • Paid to the revenue authorities by the seller of the goods-that is the "taxable person"-but it is actually paid by the buyer to the seller as part of the price. It is thus an indirect tax.

Learn more about the Value Added Tax (VAT)

How is VAT charged?

Registered VAT traders are given a VAT number and have to show the VAT collected from customers on invoices. In this way, the customer, if he is a registered trader, knows how much he can deduct in turn, and the consumer knows how much tax he has paid on the final product.

VAT coverage and VAT rates

Given that European law only requires that the standard VAT rate must be at least 15% and the reduced rate at least 5%, actual rates applied vary between Member States and between certain types of products. In addition, certain member states have retained separate rules in specific areas.

The most reliable source of information on current VAT rates for a specified product in a particular member state is that country's VAT authority.

VAT on imports and exports

When selling products into Europe or from one European member state to another, you should be aware that the tax rate can be different from country to country. If you transfer your own goods from one European country to another, or if FBA transfers your goods from a fulfillment center into another country where your products were stored, the transfer may also be treated as a transaction subject to VAT. You are responsible for meeting any VAT obligations that apply, including VAT obligations in the Amazon marketplace website locations, the country to which you are delivering or shipping your products, or any other countries.

Tip: When selling in multiple Amazon European marketplaces, keep in mind that you may be liable to pay VAT to different member states and so may need to apply for different VAT numbers with different member states. Consult your tax advisor to help you understand your VAT obligations in the EU.

If you import products into the European Union, you may be obliged to pay VAT the moment the goods enter Europe-and in the destination country where you ship the goods. VAT is usually payable in the member state of import by the declarant. You will be liable for the import VAT at the time of delivery of the goods unless you have entered into an arrangement with your supplier for the import VAT to be included in the price of the goods, and for the supplier to discharge the obligation by making a payment to the relevant tax authority.

If you are a company not established in Europe and ship your products from a non-European country directly to a customer in a European country, or you ship your products into a European fulfillment center, please consult your tax advisor to assess any import and VAT obligations you may have.

Goods sold for export to customers outside of Europe may not be subject to European VAT.

For more information, visit the European Commission website.

Registering for a VAT number and filing VAT returns

When you sell your products in Europe, you may need to charge VAT. You may need to request a VAT registration number, file VAT returns, and pay the VAT you collected from your customers to the tax authorities.

In most European countries, you can register online on the tax authority's website for the country where you want to register. Most of these websites provide the VAT information in English. The website will usually provide an online form for registering or a PDF form you can download to complete and return by mail. If there is no provision for registering online, you can find out where to go to register for a VAT number. After you have submitted your request for a VAT number, you may also be sent forms to sign and return through regular mail.

Registering for VAT may lead to a number of associated compliance requirements, including the need to file reports and issue VAT invoices.

Important: For additional information, see the Vat Registration in the EU Services page.

Registering for VAT in multiple countries

Registering for VAT may be required depending on the level of your sales as well as where your inventory is stored. You should consult your tax advisors as to your VAT registration requirements based on your individual seller set up.

When you sell products to customers from your inventory stored in Europe, you may need to file VAT returns in the country from which you ship your products, and you may be required to file VAT returns in the country to which you ship your products (when exceeding the threshold for so-called "distance selling").

Distance selling of goods

Distance selling is when you sell goods from one European Union country to customers in another European country where, generally speaking, these customers are private individuals without undertaking any business activity for VAT purposes.

The "distance selling threshold" is a value in Euros established by each country in Europe. If your sales that you ship from one country into another country are greater than that country's threshold, you must register for VAT in that country. You are responsible to report, collect, and pay the VAT in that country.

Please note that the distance selling threshold is not a sum total of all your sales across Europe. Each European country has a distance selling threshold, and these thresholds vary from country to country. Consult with a tax authority for the country where you want to sell your products to verify the distance selling threshold.

VAT invoicing

In many European countries, customers expect a VAT invoice. VAT laws in the country where the customer is located may require you to provide a VAT invoice, and customers' expectations usually go beyond the law. In Germany and Italy, for example, customers often expect an invoice for high-value items.

Other tax resources

Europe Taxation and Customs Union English
United Kingdom Imports and purchases from abroad: paying and reclaiming VAT English
Germany Federal Ministry of Finance English
France Foreign companies: Your tax obligations in France English
Italy Agenzia Entrate Italian
Spain Agencia Tributaria Spanish

Note: For more information about third-party providers that can help you manage your global business, see the Amazon solution providers Help page.

European regulatory considerations

Customs

When you import goods into the European Union (EU), you will need to comply with EU customs laws, as well as laws and regulations that are applicable to the EU country of import. Please note that you are not authorized to import your goods in the name of Amazon EU S.à r.l. or any other Amazon subsidiary or affiliate (indistinctly referred to as "Amazon" and its corporate name as an "Amazon name") or to reference Amazon anywhere in your shipping documentation. Otherwise, your shipments may be returned to their origin, abandoned, or disposed of at your cost, at the discretion of the carrier or freight forwarder carrying your goods.

Importation regulations may differ between countries in the EU and will depend on the mode of shipping you choose. Therefore, you should strongly consider hiring a logistics provider, such as a customs broker or freight forwarder, to handle the importation process for your company and help you understand all applicable requirements.

Commercial invoice

When your goods are ready to be shipped from your facility, manufacturer, or distributor, the shipper prepares the commercial invoice. It is critical that the commercial invoice be accurate to avoid delays in clearing customs. The following information must be included on the commercial invoice when importing goods into an EU country:

  • Invoice issue date.
  • The complete name and address of the exporter or shipper (seller or manufacturer).
  • The shipper's contact name, company name, address, and tax ID number.
  • Ship-to address. Provide the legal name of your company, followed by "c/o FBA." Below this, you may use the address of the Amazon fulfillment center to which your goods should be delivered. Amazon does not, however, authorize you to include any Amazon name in this address. Please see the example below.
  • Importer of record: Provide the legal name of your company or EU import representative, along with full contact details, Economic Operators' Registration and Identification number (EORI) and VAT registration number for the country of import (example below). Prior to shipping, you should consider ensuring that your company or representative can fulfill all criteria to act as importer of record in the country of import. Leaving this information blank also can result in your shipment being refused and returned.
    Important: Amazon expressly prohibits the use of an Amazon name, including a fulfillment center's name, as the importer of record for any shipment of FBA inventory. Any FBA inventory shipment attempting to make entry with an Amazon name as the importer of record will be refused and returned at the shipper's expense —no exceptions. Leaving this information blank also can result in your shipment being refused and returned.
    Example "Ship to/Deliver to" field Example "Importer of record" field
    [Seller legal name] c/o FBA

    1401 Rue du Champ Rouge

    45770 Saran, France

    [Seller legal name] or [Seller's representative legal name]

    1234 Rue de Lyon

    9876 Paris, France

    EORI: XY123456789

    VAT ID: YX87654321

Please note the differences in addresses. The "Ship-to" address includes the Amazon fulfillment center, while the "Importer of record" address includes the seller's or seller representative's registered address.

  • FBA Shipment ID (FBA reference). This is the number you receive when you create the shipment in your Amazon seller account. This ensures that Amazon can quickly identify the shipment as belonging to FBA if customs questions arise. If your FBA Shipment ID in Seller Central does not contain "FBA," please add it in a visible place on the invoice.
  • Detailed description of the goods invoiced. Includes, among other required elements, the following:
    • Harmonized Tariff Schedule Code (HTS Code)
    • Product quantity
    • Value of each product. For samples or products with no commercial value, a nominal or fair-market value must be stated for customs purposes
    • Total value of all products in a shipment
  • Currency of the transaction

Additional information may also be required. These requirements are subject to change. It is your responsibility to determine and comply with import requirements.

Depending on the type of product, there may be additional certificates and licenses required for import. These can include a Declaration of Conformity, test reports or leather certificates.

Please note that the document requirements listed above are in addition to the system-generated document requirements specified in the Shipment Creation Workflow.

Please check with your logistics provider or customs broker to ensure that you have the complete documentation needed to import into the EU destination country.

Shipping best practices

Amazon fulfillment centers have requirements for the shipments they receive, including the size of the pallets and the type of truck that can deliver to the fulfillment center. The How to Ship Inventory to Amazon guidelines provide information needed for preparing your shipment to an Amazon fulfillment center. Paying attention to these requirements and best practices will help avoid delays in getting your inventory to the fulfillment center and into your customers' hands.

Using standard postal services

Using postal services such as China Post, Royal Mail, Parcelforce, and Deutsche Post to send your shipments to Amazon fulfillment centers is not recommended. Postal services may have different importer of record requirements for their shipments than for freight or express carrier shipments. It is possible that by using postal services to ship your goods, you could not ship to an Amazon fulfillment center as the IOR. If you are considering a postal service as a shipping option, you should consider sending the shipment to the address of your representative in the country of import and, after the shipment is delivered, forward the goods to the Amazon fulfillment center address. Prior to shipping, you may want to check with the postal service that your company or representative can be the importer of record.

Intellectual property rights

You should ensure that you have all intellectual property rights (such as patents, trademarks, or copyrights) necessary for listing your products in Europe or selling them cross-border within Europe. You may need to have the permission of the brand owner to sell their products in a given European member state in order to avoid an infringement of intellectual property rights (as in the case where your license to the intellectual property is only valid for a specific country). In particular, your products must not be counterfeit or illegal parallel imports (see new section).

You should investigate the law governing intellectual property for every country where you want to list your products because your rights in intellectual property may only be valid for a particular country.

In addition, you may want to protect your own intellectual property in Europe.

Other resources

United Kingdom Intellectual Property Office English
Germany GRUR German
German Patent and Trade Mark Office English
France INPI French
Italy Ufficio Italiano Brevetti e Marchi Italian
Spain Propiedad Intelectual Spanish

Parallel import

An intellectual property rights owner (in particular trademark owners, copyright holders and their licensees) may prohibit you from importing or selling his goods in the European Economic Area (EEA), if you sourced them outside the EEA.

This prohibition applies even if the rights owner distributes the same product type in the EEA or does not distribute in the EEA, as long as he holds an intellectual property right in the EEA. Therefore, if you intend to list e.g. branded products or media items on Amazon’s EU marketplaces which you source outside that region, seek expert legal advice and make sure the rights owner does not object to such parallel import. Otherwise, Amazon may be asked by the rights owner to take down your listings on Amazon’s EU marketplaces for IP infringement. Repeated cases of IP infringements will also affect your ability to continue selling on Amazon.

Parallel import of goods sourced outside the EEA for sale in the EEA with the rights owner’s consent could still affect customer experience if the non-EEA product differs from the EEA version in any way (e.g., packaging, warranty coverage, product variations). Describe your product appropriately to avoid negative customer feedback.

For more information, see: Important Information for International Sellers.

Markings and labels

The "CE" mark is a mandatory conformance mark on many products (such as low-voltage equipment, medical devices, toys, personal protective equipment, and so on). By attaching the "CE" marking, the manufacturer declares that the product is in conformity with the requirements of the applicable European directives.

There are many other marks and labels in Europe (for example, textiles, products in contact with food, recycling, and so on), which you may be required to display on your products or packaging. Often product labeling is required to be in the language of the European member state where the product is sold.

Other resources

Europe EU Standards and CE Marking English
CE Conformity Marking English
Marketing of products - CE conformity marking English
United Kingdom European Commission Product Directives English
Germany IXPOS: The German Business Portal English
France Direction Générale de la Concurrence, de la Consommation et de la Répression des Fraudes French
Italy CE Marking Italian
Spain Marcado-CE Spanish

Environment, health and safety

Chemicals - REACH/CLP

REACH is the European regulation on chemicals and their safe use. It deals with the Registration, Evaluation, Authorization and Restriction of Chemical substances. Under the REACH regulation, one of the things manufacturers and importers may be required to do is to gather certain information on the properties of the chemical substances in their products, and to register the information in a central database run by the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA).

In addition to REACH, the Regulation for Classification, Labeling, and Packaging of Substances and Mixtures (CLP Regulation) may apply to your products. The CLP Regulation incorporates the classification criteria and labeling rules agreed at the United Nations level, the so-called Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals (GHS). GHS is based on the principle that the same hazards should be described and labeled in the same way all around the world.

Other resources

Europe Chemicals are everywhere English
European Chemicals Agency English
Germany German REACH-CLP Helpdesk English
Chemikalien German
France REACH: Ministère de l'Ecologie, du Développement Durable et de l'Energie French
Italy REACH: Ministero dell'Ambiente Italian
Spain REACH-CLP Spanish

Electrical and electronical equipment - WEEE/RoHS

If you are selling electrical or electronic equipment, you may be subject to the European legislation concerning Restrictions of the Use of Hazardous Substances (RoHS) and/or the collection and recycling of Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE).

Some requirements of the WEEE regulations that you may be subject to:

  • Display the "crossed-out wheeled bin" symbol on your products. The symbol indicates that the product should not be disposed of as normal waste, but rather in specific recycling centers.
  • Join an authorized WEEE collection and recycling scheme in any European member state in which you sell applicable products.

Other resources

Europe Recast of the WEEE Directive English
United Kingdom Electrical and electronic equipment (EEE) English
Germany Stiftung Elektro-Altgeräte Register German
France DEEE: Ministère de l'Ecologie, du Développement Durable et de l'Energie French
Italy Centro Di Coordinamento RAEE Italian
Spain Registro de aparatos eléctricos y electrónicos Spanish

Batteries

If you sell batteries or products that contain batteries, you may be subject to the Battery Directive. The Battery Directive imposes specific obligations on producers and distributors of batteries.

Some requirements you may be subject:

  • Display the "crossed-out wheeled bin" symbol on your batteries. The symbol indicates that the battery should not be disposed of as normal waste, but rather in specific recycling centers.
  • Join an authorized battery collection and recycling scheme in any European member state in which you sell your batteries.

Other resources

Europe European Commission: Batteries English
United Kingdom Environment Agency: Batteries English
Germany Bundesumweltamt BattG-Melderegister German
France Filières de responsabilité élargie du producteur (REP) French
Italy Ministero dell'Ambiente Italian
Spain Registro de pilas y acumuladores Spanish

Packaging and packaging waste

Packaged products you sell in Europe must comply with the European Packaging and Packaging Waste regulations.

Some requirements you may be subject:

  • Join an authorized packaging collection and recycling scheme in any European member state in which you sell your products.
  • Display recycling symbols on your packaging (for example, the "green dot" symbol).

Other resources

Europe Packaging and Packaging Waste English
United Kingdom Producer responsibility English
Germany Abfall | Ressourcen German
IXPOS Import Regulations English
France Les emballages French
Italy Ministero dell'Ambiente Italian
Spain Management of Packaging English

Product compliance

Plugs and voltage

Countries in Europe use different types of plugs-for instance, the U.K. 3-pin rectangular plug and the continental European 2-pin round plug. In addition, products you import into Europe might work on a different voltage.

Please ensure that you comply with the regulations on plugs and voltage in any European member state in which you list your products. In particular, your customers should be able to safely use your products. For more information regarding what plugs and sockets are accepted in EU fulfillment centers, visit the Electrical Goods Requirements: Plugs and Sockets help page.

Other resources

Europe Electrical Outlet and Adapter Plug International Summary English
United Kingdom DTI: PRODUCT STANDARDS English
France Legifrance - Retour à l'accueil French
Germany IEC - Stecker & Steckdosen English
Verordnung über die Bereitstellung elektrischer Betriebsmittel zur Verwendung innerhalb bestimmter Spannungsgrenzen auf dem Markt (1.ProdSV) German
Italy Testata MSE Italian
Spain Laser Measurement Product Spanish

Toys

The European Toys Safety Directive requires, among others things, that it must be possible to use a toy without any danger to one's health or safety during the toy's foreseeable and normal period of use. You may also be required to place warnings on the products that specify the appropriate conditions and limitations of use.

Other resources

Europe The safety of toys English
United Kingdom DTI Toy Safety English
Germany BMEL - Product Safety English
Sicheres Spielzeug German
France La sécurité des jouets French
Italy Ministry of Health on Toys Italian
Spain La Asociación Española de Fabricantes de Juguetes (AEFJ) Spanish

Medical devices

Medical devices range from simple products like bandages to the most sophisticated life-supporting products. If your product is considered a medical device, you may be subject to the European Medical Devices Directive. The Directive requires, among other things, that medical devices shall not compromise the safety and health of patients, or users and other persons when properly implanted, maintained, and used.

Europe Summaries of European Legislation English
Medical devices English
United Kingdom Healthcare and medical: international trade regulations English
Germany BFARM - Medical Devices English
France ANSM: dispositifs médicaux French
Italy Informazioni generali sugli avvisi di sicurezza - FSN (Field Safety Notice) Italian
Spain AEMPS-Medical Devices Spanish

Pharmaceuticals and cosmetics

Pharmaceuticals and cosmetics are subject to various regulations in Europe, including special labeling and packaging requirements. The regulations are only partially harmonized. For example, a product may be sold over-the-counter in some European member states, while in others it may only be legally sold in pharmacies.

Table 1. Other resources
Europe Pharmaceutical and cosmetic products English
Cosmetics English
United Kingdom Regulating Medicines and Medical Devices English
Germany BFARM - Medicinal Products English
Bundesministerium für Gesundheit - Arzneimitteldaten Zentral und Transparent German
France ANSM: produits cosmétiques French
ANSM: medicaments French
Italy Informazioni generali sugli avvisi di sicurezza - FSN (Field Safety Notice) Italian
Spain Plan de Calidad para el Sistema Nacional de Salud Spanish

Food

Food and food products are subject to many regulations in Europe. European food regulations in particular aim at establishing high-quality standards for food and food product hygiene, animal health and welfare, and plant health, and prevent the risk of contamination from external substances.

European food regulations include, among many other things, the following:

  • Specifying rules on appropriate labeling for food products. Often product labeling is required to be in the language of the European member state where the product is sold.
  • Establishing mandatory refund and recycling schemes for beverage packaging in several European member states.

You can find more information at the following links:

Table 2. Other resources
Europe Europa: Food Safety English
Europa: Health and Consumers - Food English
European Food Safety Authority English
United Kingdom Food Standards Agency English
Germany FMFA - Food English
BLL - Kennzeichnung German
France ANSES French
DGCCRF French
Italy Alimenti Italian
Spain Alimentación Spanish

More: See a list of restricted products for import into the United Kingdom.

Consumer rights

Please note that these consumer rights are described for illustrative purposes only and do not constitute any legal advice or substitute for any contractual obligation that you may have agreed upon with Amazon or directly with the consumer. To learn more about rules that apply to international sellers, check out Global Selling International Seller Rules here.

Rights of cancellation

With some exceptions, consumers in the European Union have the right to cancel a purchase of a product bought online within 14 days of receiving the final item of the order, if they purchased multiple items together that were delivered separately. Even when there is no error from your side, you must refund the item and the shipping costs. You may not have to refund all costs unless one of the following is true:


  1. There is an error on your side.
  2. You agreed to bear all costs for the consumer.
  3. You failed to disclose or inform the customer about the costs that you are legally required to disclose.

For example, you must refund the normal cost of sending the item to the consumer but not any extra costs for services that the customer chooses, such as expedited delivery or gift-wrapping. Similarly, when you expressly inform the consumer, you don't have to bear the cost of returning the product to you.

Please note that these consumer rights are in addition to any contractual return rights that you may have agreed upon with Amazon (e.g. 30-day return guarantee) or directly with the consumer.

Other resources

Europe The Directive on Consumer Rights English
United Kingdom UK online and distance selling for business English
Germany Verbraucherportal German
France Loi consommation : e-commerce French
Achat à distance: droit de rétractation du consommateur
Italy Decalogue on consumer rights Italian
Consumer rights information materials
Spain Derechos básicos de los consumidores Spanish

Legal warranty

Under EU consumer protection rules, the seller of a product must offer a 2-year Legal Warranty when selling in the EU. This means that, during the period of 2 years from the delivery of the product, you must repair, exchange or reimburse a defective product. In most EU countries, any defect that becomes apparent within 6 months from delivery is presumed to have existed at the time of delivery and therefore you must repair, exchange or reimburse it. After 6 months,in most EU countries (France excluded), you can request that the customer to prove the defect already existed at the time of delivery. You can find more information regarding the Legal Warranty in the following link from the European Commission.

This Legal Warranty obligation is in addition to your obligation to process customer returns according to Amazon Return Policy.

Other resources

Europe Sales and Guarantees English
United Kingdom UK online and distance selling for business English
Germany Verbraucherportal German
France Achat à distance: livraison du bien ou exécution de la prestation French
Garantie légale de conformité
Italy Guidelines on legal warranty Italian
Spain Derechos básicos de los consumidores Spanish

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