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Practical tips for online purchases through a foreign webshop

Looking for a gadget? Or maybe a nice gift? Then you will probably be exploring the Internet. A nice quest! You should however pay attention to which webshop you buy something from. If you buy something through a foreign webshop, you will not only have to pay the price of your parcel, but also extra costs when the parcel is delivered. Also be careful with what you buy, because not everything is allowed, such as weapons or counterfeit goods.

The General Administration of Customs and Excise (Customs) is in charge of the control and taxation of goods entering the European Union (EU). Controls can also be carried out on European goods. Bpost and other courier services clear the parcels, deliver them to the consignees and collect any customs clearance charges and VAT.

Be sure to check out these tips before ordering at a foreign webshop:

  1. Check where your parcel is being shipped from
    If you order at a webshop located outside the EU, you will often still have to pay import costs and/or VAT. If it is located within the EU, you will not have to pay these additional costs.
    Therefore, be sure to check the website to see if it says where the goods are dispatched from, or google the shop.
  2. Be careful what you buy
    Do not buy everything you see. Some goods are forbidden and will always be seized by Customs. You will be left empty-handed and with an empty wallet. Weapons, protected animal and plant species, to name a few.
  3. Additional costs
    Does your package have a value of no more than €150? Then you have to pay VAT.
    Does the value of your parcel exceed € 150? Then you also have to pay import duties, apart from the VAT. You will have to pay these costs to the courier at your door.
  4. Check
    This website, an initiative of the Federal Public Service Economy, SMEs, Self-employed and Energy, explains the rules on e-commerce in Belgium in a playful and clear way. On the website you, as a consumer, will find explanations about all steps of an online purchase and about your rights and obligations at each of these steps.
  5. View  10 ECC-Net tips: how to avoid counterfeiting on the internet (PDF, 114.81 KB).