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Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs

Legal regulations for e-commerce

E-commerce is rapidly evolving, and businesses are trying to adapt to these changes. If you are a business owner in the tourism industry, you should keep the legal aspects of e-commerce in mind when deciding to sell your services or products online (such as allowing online bookings, for example).

In this situation, you are required to follow European legislation on e-commerce regulations. This means your website must clearly notify users of a series of important aspects.

What should I tell customers when they place an order?

Contractual information

The website should let the user know what they’re agreeing to when buying from you. This means that contractual procedures regarding their purchase must be clearly stated.

They also need to know how they can modify, correct, or eliminate information.

The terms of use on the website should be clear and explain how information on the provider, client, products and/or services will be stored.

The e-commerce site should confirm all website purchases by notifying the user within 24 hours. These notifications can be delivered electronically or by any other means indicated in the contract. The only requirement is that the method chosen must allow the client to save the notification.

Withdrawal period

Under the directive on consumer rights, consumers have 14 calendar days should they wish to withdraw from the contract if they are not satisfied with the product. The e-commerce website should inform the user of this right.

Use of cookies

Cookies are pieces of data sent by websites that remain stored on a user’s computer to help with future web browsing. However, cookies can also pose a security risk. This means that your e-commerce website must have a cookies policy informing the user that cookies are being used when they access the website.

Data protection

When gathering user information (via registration, purchase, or contact forms) from those who visit your e-commerce website, you must notify the user that you are collecting their data in line with the requirements of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

You must also indicate both

  • where their personal data is being registered
  • which management tools they may use for future access, modifications or cancellations

All of these policies are designed to offer a higher level of user security for those browsing e-commerce websites. As a tourism business owner, you must respect these policies on your website.
It is also recommended that you stay informed on e-commerce in the EU single market, including on the European directives aiming to establish a harmonised regulatory framework among EU countries.

Checking that your website complies with e-commerce legislation

Before launching your website, you must make sure that it meets all of the requirements on e-commerce and GDPR mentioned above. If your website is already active on the internet, it is important to review and revise the page to make sure that it meets these rules and regulations.

You must respond ‘yes’ to all of the following questions.

If my website includes a newsletter subscription or a contact form

  • is there a visible link to the data protection policy? Is it in line with the rules of the GDPR?
  • is there a small box that the user must tick to confirm that they have read the data protection policy before sending their information?
  • is there a small box that the user must tick to confirm a purchase where providing personal information was necessary?

When the user accesses my e-commerce website

  • do they receive a message informing them of the use of cookies on my website?
  • Is there a link available with information on the use of cookies? Is this located on a permanent part of the website?
  • Is there at least one way in which users can contact me to find out more on the contractual legal aspects of products and services on my website? (You can indicate a phone number, an email, a contact form, etc.).

When the user makes a purchase on my website

  • Before completing the purchase, has all relevant contract information (on delivery periods, payment methods and cancellation options) been specified to the client?
  • Does the client receive a notification of purchase – either electronically or through another method – within 24 hours?

Further reading on legislation affecting tourism


Understanding tourism legislation

Learn what tourism legislation is, what it encompasses, how it can affect you when creating and managing a tourism business, and how you can keep up to date with any changes in legislation.