The EU Regulation on Geo-Blocking and Your Website

The EU Regulation on Geo-Blocking and Your Online Store

It’s not so long ago that the GDPR regulation came into effect and required adjustments to your website. So we wouldn’t blame you for thinking “EU must be kidding, not again?” But there are some clear advantages to this new regulation, not just for consumers but for online sellers too.

In this article, we’ll explain why this regulation is important for your website, what the advantages are for e-commerce, and what Jimdo is doing to make sure the online store system complies with this new regulation.

In this article, we introduce you to the new developments with the geo-blocking (or geoblocking) regulation in the EU. Please note that this article does not constitute legal advice. Should you have any specific questions regarding your website or the regulation, we encourage you to contact a legal expert.

Topics we’ll cover:

What does the geo-blocking regulation mean for me?

If your online shop is based in the EU, the new geo-blocking regulation will affect you. To sum it up, in most cases you’re legally obliged to sell (but not deliver) to customers from EU member states.

This also means that all your online forms have to be compatible with placing an order from anywhere in the EU.

The good news is that Jimdo has taken care of this for you. There are, however, a few details that you should still check:

As an online store owner, it’s advisable to revise your Terms of Service to make clear what countries you ship to or don’t ship to in the EU. If a customer orders from outside these particular countries, make sure they know who is responsible for arranging delivery. We’ll go into more detail about this further down.

Not in the EU? If you’re based outside the EU and don’t sell to EU-based customers, then you don’t necessarily have to check anything. If you do sell to the EU, it’s best to consult with a legal advisor whether you need to allow all EU customers to purchase in your shop.

What are the EU geo-blocking changes that affect my online store?

If you have a Jimdo website, we’ve already got you covered. But if not, you should check all these aspects of your online store to make sure they’re in accordance with the new regulation and your online offer:

  • Billing address: All EU countries should be listed in your billing address options, no matter whether your store actually delivers to those countries or not. Jimdo has already taken care of this part for you in a recent update by including all EU countries in the Billing Address drop-down menu.
  • Contact details: The same applies to contact details, such as phone numbers. You cannot design the form to only accept phone numbers with specific country codes.
  • Payment methods: You should check that if you accept a certain payment methods, that means you have to accept it from all over the EU in your shop unless there are compelling technical or legal reasons that prevent this. A web shop is not allowed to automatically decline credit cards from certain countries or e.g. not offer certain payment methods in certain EU countries without a valid reason.
  • Accepting payments: The website also needs to provide forms that accept the means of payment normally accepted from any EU Member State. For example, if you accept credit cards, you must allow users to fill in the details of any SEPA-issued card.
  • Purchase from all versions of your shop: Conditions, prices and product offers within one specific web shop cannot (automatically) change based on the IP address, a delivery address, a certain payment means etc. However, you can still have different shops, with different prices/conditions/offers that may be directed at different countries. But all EU customers should be able to buy products from all versions of your shop.
  • Shop redirecting: You’re not allowed to automatically redirect a customer from one version of your online shop to another without explicit consent. The consumer must always have the possibility to return to the original shop they were in.

Good to know: The geo-blocking regulation will come into effect on the 3rd December 2018.

What should I do about geo-blocking?

If you sell products to customers in the European Union, we recommend you consult a legal expert and update your Terms of Service.

  • You should clearly state in the Terms of Service what countries you do or don’t deliver to. Then make sure to add that customers who order from a country you don’t deliver to are responsible for arranging delivery themselves. Even if you as a seller don’t offer international shipping, the customer will be allowed to order the product and e.g. pick it up from your premises or arrange delivery themselves—depending on your Terms of Service.
  • Jimdo has recently added a notice during checkout to mention that you only deliver to countries listed under the “Delivery and Payment Conditions.” So make sure your Delivery and Payment Conditions are up-to-date.

If you offer and a customer wants special delivery requirements, they could contact you directly to explain how. For example, “Please hold my item for an extra two weeks so I can pick it up when I’m there on holiday.” You (the seller) then may have the right to charge extra, if necessary, for these special requirements, depending on your offer and Terms of Service etc.

Start selling your products online with Jimdo.

What is Jimdo doing to help with EU regulations?

To help get you started, we’ve added a few updates. If your online store is based in the EU, you’ll see these new features in your online store:

  • The drop-down menu for the billing address now automatically includes all EU countries. So you don’t have to worry about forgetting to add a country to your list.
  • Jimdo has recently added an automatic warning note during checkout to mention you only deliver to countries listed under the “Delivery and Payment Conditions.”

You may have already noticed that we’ve changed the drop-down menu in all EU-based Jimdo shops to include all EU countries for the billing address. This is a legal requirement but it doesn’t mean you’re legally obliged to deliver to all these countries. It just means that although all EU countries are listed, you can add a note during checkout saying that you only deliver to Germany, for example, and let visitors know. The drop-down menu for the shipping menu will only include the actual countries you deliver to.

Is this regulation a good thing for online sellers?

The good news is that international e-commerce is a huge opportunity for you to expand as a small shop owner. The geo-blocking regulation adds nicely to the recent change in VAT regulations, meaning that most online merchants (depending on the products/services they trade) no longer have to register for VAT in each of the EU countries.

So selling internationally and expanding your business can really pay off with a good international strategy.

Start selling your products online with Jimdo.

Tara Santiago
Tara is a writer and editor for Jimdo. She works closely with our product teams on marketing and user experience. When she’s not writing, you can find her traveling, filling in The Guardian crossword or buried in a book.
Matching Product

Online Store