Marketing

These laws and regulations will change in 2021 – eCommerce Magazin

With the start of the new year, some new laws and regulations will also come into force, which will also affect online trading. Both German and European legislators have an influence on legal standards that are of great importance for e-commerce.

1. End of the VAT cut

As you have probably noticed, the well-known VAT rates of 19 and 7 percent have been in effect again since January 1, 2021. Therefore, make sure that you display the VAT correctly. If you state this in the specific amount, it must of course be correct.

2. Cross-border online trade: New regulations on country-specific delivery thresholds

The EU wants to fight VAT fraud and, at the same time, simplify the collection of taxes on cross-border trade. Therefore, the annual tax law passed by the Bundestag on December 16, 2020 also includes some innovations that affect cross-border trade.

An important change for online retailers is the abolition of the country-specific delivery thresholds between 35,000 and 100,000 euros. Delivery thresholds, which used to be completely different depending on the country, are now standardized with a delivery threshold of 10,000 euros per calendar year throughout the EU. If this annual limit for all sales to other EU countries is exceeded, the sales must be taxed under the conditions of the respective target country.

In order to avoid increased registration efforts, the process will in future be standardized via the so-called one-stop shop (OSS). This procedure gives you the opportunity to report your VAT amounts to the Federal Central Tax Office in Germany and pay them centrally there. This means that time-consuming registration in other EU member states is no longer necessary. These new regulations will come into force on July 1, 2021. From this point in time, the previously applicable exemption limit of 22 euros for import sales tax, which is due for goods deliveries from third countries, no longer applies. In future, import sales tax will be levied from the first cent.

3. New energy efficiency labels from March 1st, 2021

This year new energy efficiency labels will be introduced for many energy-related device classes. Instead of classes from A + to A +++, the devices will in future be labeled with efficiency classes A to G. In addition, the labels are expanded to include a QR code that contains additional information. The following product groups will receive a new label with a new scale from March 1, 2021:

  • dishwasher
  • Washing machines and washer-dryers
  • Refrigerators including wine storage cabinets
  • Electronic displays including televisions, monitors, and digital signage displays

For light sources (lamps & Co.) the new labels will start on September 1st, 2021. If you sell affected products, be sure to update your labels on time (but not too soon!).

4. Online trade: New EU regulations for the purchase of goods and digital content

Two EU directives on the purchase of goods and on digital content and services came into force in 2019. These must be transposed into national law by the German legislator by July 1, 2021, and the regulations will then apply from January 1, 2022.

5. “New Deal for Consumers” is implemented

The “New Deal for Consumers” came into force at the beginning of last year. This EU directive changes several existing directives (including the consumer rights directive) and is therefore also called the “omnibus directive”. It is to be implemented into national law by November 28, 2021. The new regulations must then be applied nationally by May 28, 2022 at the latest.

6. Data protection in online trading: new cookie regulations

Data protection issues will of course also play an important role in online trading in 2021. The German legislator is currently working on the Telecommunications Telemedia Data Protection Act, or TTDSG for short. This new law is intended to standardize the data protection provisions of the TMG and the TKG, including the provisions on the protection of telecommunications secrecy. In addition to the implementation of the case law on cookie consent, new legal regulations on voice assistants and the use of location data are also taken into account.

7. Draft law on fair consumer contracts

Another draft law for fair consumer contracts was passed by the Federal Cabinet on December 16, 2020. Consumers are to be better protected with telephone advertising as well as certain contractual conditions. The government draft provides for the following rules, among others:

  • Effectiveness of longer contract periods: The effectiveness of an agreement in general terms and conditions over a binding contract period of over one year to two years is linked to additional conditions. An offer for the same service with a term of one year and at a price that does not exceed the price for the contract with the longer term by more than 25 percent on a monthly average must be made.
  • Effectiveness of automatic contract extensions: An automatic contract extension is only possible if the company informs its customers in good time that they can cancel.
  • Documentation requirements for telephone advertising: Entrepreneurs are obliged to document and store the consent of consumers in telephone advertising.

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Also read: Online shopping: How shop owners prevent frustration among customers