The do’s and don’ts with online purchases

To make consumers more aware of their online ordering behaviour, Customs launched an information campaign this autumn. Key principle: we help, you check.

How to recognise web shops that try to avoid having to pay customs duties and VAT? Or businesses that offer cigarettes or alcoholic beverages online on which no excise duty is paid? Do you actually know which products can be imported into the EU? To make consumers more aware of their ordering behaviour, Dutch Customs launched an information campaign this autumn. Starting point: we help, you check.

Buying products from web shops abroad is the most normal thing in the world. It is partly because of Customs’ campaigns that most online shoppers are now aware of the risks involved. Research shows that seven out of ten online buyers know that not all products from outside the EU may be imported. And nine out of ten know that additional costs – such as import duties and VAT – may be charged for importing packages from outside the EU.

Despite the fact that the target group has a relatively high knowledge level, Customs would like to see more attention being paid to fairer and safer online trade. Also because there are still too many goods entering our country which do not meet the applicable safety, health and environmental requirements. Examples include counterfeit clothing and electronics, illegal medicines and dangerous objects such as throwing stars and butterfly knives. In addition, we come across many shipments whose value is incorrect and too low. That is why a new awareness campaign was launched in early October. The most important message: if you order something online from a web shop outside the European Union, you should consider the rules that apply, and do not agree to any unfair proposals. The campaign continues until the end of December, also because of the traditional peak in online purchases during the last months of the year.

Consumers can visit, for example, the Customs website www.douane.nl/internetaankopen and call the Customs Information Line if they have any questions about online purchases. On social media (e.g. Facebook, Twitter and Instagram), too, consumers can ask questions and find information on how to place fair orders.

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