Delivery: Your rights in the event of late or damaged packages

When you purchase something on the internet in the European Union, you are protected (Directive 2011/83). For example, you must be informed of your order’s delivery date and in the event of a late delivery, your seller is responsible.

Consult our FAQ to learn about your rights in the event of non-delivery or damaged packages.

Questions and Answers

You should receive your package on the date or within the period indicated by your seller, unless you have agreed to another date. If you have no information on the delivery period of your package, it must be delivered to you without unjustified delay and at the latest within a maximum period of 30 days.

  • Contact your seller in writing (letter or email with delivery receipt, keep a copy) and demand a delivery within a reasonable additional time (8-10 days for example)
  • If you still do not receive your order, cancel it and ask your seller for reimbursement for the amount paid by letter or email with delivery receipt (always keep a copy of your demand). The seller must reimburse you within 14 days following the cancellation of your contract (§ 355 i.V.m. 357 I BGB. If they do not respect this 14-day period, the amount due can be increased from 5%-Points above the annual basis interest rate (§ 288 I BGB).
  • With no response from a seller based in another EU country, the United Kingdom, Iceland, or Norway, contact us.

Good to know: If the delivery date was an essential condition for you (purchase for a wedding, birthday, etc.) and you have informed the seller by writing of your need for delivery by this certain date, you can, in the event of non-delivery by the specified date, immediately demand the cancellation of the contract by letter with the delivery receipt.

Yes. Since the end of geo-blocking, 3 December 2018, you can buy goods and services from a seller based in another EU country, with the same conditions (even the price and delivery conditions) as customers who live in that country. But purchase is not the same as delivery. The end of geo-blocking does not provide an obligation for the seller to deliver to your country of residence if he or she does not normally delivery to that country. However, the seller must inform you, at the latest at the beginning of the ordering process, of the potential delivery restrictions. Therefore, you must organise the delivery or collection at an agreed upon place with the professional (more information on the end of geo-blocking).

The seller is fully responsible for the delay, loss, or damage of a package during transport. In the event of loss or damage, the seller will either have to organise a new delivery at his or her own cost or reimburse you. The seller will then be able to take action against the carrier.

If you have chosen another carrier than the one proposed by the seller, or organised the shipping yourself, you become responsible for any potential problems that occur during shipping and your only source of contact will be the carrier chosen (§§475 II, 447 I BGB).

If the package arrives damaged, refuse to accept it and indicate your reasons for refusal directly on the delivery note. Be precise, avoid vague wording such as “accepted subject to”. If you don’t have the delivery note, use the receipt attached to the package. Take photos of the damaged packaging and contents.

Then, contact your seller and the carrier by writing, preferably by letter or email with delivery receipt, as soon as possible. Ask them to remove the damaged product and resend the correct goods.

Tip: Even if the package appears intact, do not hesitate to check the contents in the presence of the delivery person.

For sanitary reasons, “no-contact” deliveries are being preferred at the moment. This way, with your agreement, the package can be left at your door. Even with contactless delivery, parcel delivery companies must ensure that parcels are only delivered under supervision. Otherwise, in case of loss or damage to the ordered goods, it will be difficult to prove who is responsible.

Regardless of whether recipients were handed goods with or without a signature, obvious damage must be reported immediately to the supplier and the retailer. If you discover a reason for a complaint only after unpacking, you must report the damage to the delivery service within seven days. However, this deadline only affects the transport contract.

In the case of goods from the online shop, customers should always contact the retailer. This is because the retailer must provide recipients with faultless goods in order to fulfil the purchase contract.

If an ordered delivery does not arrive for days or weeks after the deadline, the trader is always the first point of contact. This is because the trader bears the transport risk and must be responsible for ensuring that the goods arrive properly at the customer's premises.

In Europe you have a legal guarantee of conformity of at least 2 years that allows you to demand the seller for repairs or exchange of the product or, if this is impossible, reimbursement for the amount paid. The non-conformity of the product applies to various situations: aesthetic difference, incomplete delivery, different functionalities, defective product, etc.

Returning the damaged good: Our advice

The articles should be securely packaged. It is possible to use the original packaging for the return if it is solid and still in good condition, but it is not mandatory. You should also make sure you are returning the item to the right address. In certain cases, the return address is not the same as where the packages are sent. If you are not certain, check the general sales conditions or ask the seller. Do not hesitate to take photos of the good and the package before closing and sending it.

  • The seller, if he or she organised the return and, for example, sent you a return slip and notified a carrier to collect the package.
  • You, if you have sent the package yourself. In the case of return within the 14 day period after informing the seller of your decision to withdrawal from the contract, the entrepreneur bears the risk of return, i.e. the risk of loss. Consider potentially taking out an insurance if the package is worth a certain value. You must be able to prove the sending of the package, so keep the shipping receipt.

Good to know: In case the package is lost while you are responsible for the shipping, contact the carrier to demand an explanation, to start an inquiry, etc.

Any seller marketing their products in Germany is only in certain cases obliged to offer a manual in German language.

For example if certain rules have to be observed when using, supplementing or maintaining a product in order to ensure the protection of safety and health, instructions for use in German must be supplied for this purpose when the product is made available on the market, unless other regulations are provided for in the statutory instruments only for dangerous products. (§ 3 IV ProdSG)

While this does happen sometimes, it is not really permitted. If the package is lost afterwards, the seller remains responsible and will have either to send another or reimburse the purchase UNLESS if you requested a delivery to a specific place, such as in a garage.

If the seller insists that the package was correctly given to you, demand proof that this happened.

If you ask a neighbour, concierge, or any other person to take possession of your delivery, remind them to be extremely vigilant, to check the package and its contents and to leave any potential remarks on the delivery slip, as if you were there.

Tip: When taking possession of your package, even if late and even if you don’t detect any deterioration of the packaging, open it as soon as possible to check the state of the contents. If you notice damage, contact the carrier and the seller.

If you decide to accept the package, you should take good care of it. You should check the condition of the package, you will not be able to use the contents or to leave it at your neighbour’s door.

If you cannot find an amiable solution with a professional based in another EU country, the United Kingdom, Iceland, or Norway, do not hesitate to contact us via our online form.

If you have ordered something on a British website before 31/12/2020 but the delivery is not expected until 2021, after Brexit, your will have to pay the VAT, as well as taxes and customs duties when goods you have ordered enter EU territory, like for any purchase from a professional based in an outside country.

Funded by the European Union. Views and opinions expressed are however those of the author(s) only and do not necessarily reflect those of the European Union or the European Innovation Council and Small and Medium-sized Enterprises Executive Agency (EISMEA). Neither the European Union nor the granting authority can be held responsible for them.