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Updated : 26/11/2015


Returning unwanted goods

14 days to withdraw when purchasing goods

In the EU, for contracts concluded as of 13 June 2014, you have the right to withdraw from your online purchase as well as from purchases made elsewhere than in shops (e.g. from a salesman on your doorstep; by phone or mail order) within 14 days.

This "cooling off" period expires 14 days after the day you received your goods. However, if this period expires on a non-working day, your deadline is extended till the next working day.

You can choose to withdraw from your order for any reason within this timeframe - even if you simply changed your mind.

To exercise your right of withdrawal, you must unequivocally inform the trader of your decision to withdraw from the purchase. You can do this, for example, by adding a written statement to the goods that you are returning by post, or by sending a fax or e-mail. It is not enough to just send the goods back. The trader must provide you with a model withdrawal form, which you can use to inform him/her of your withdrawal but you don't have to use it.

The trader must give you a refund within 14 days from receipt of your withdrawal notification, but can delay refunding you if he/she has not received the goods back or evidence that you have sent them back. This refund must include any shipping charges you paid when you made your purchase. However, the trader may charge you additional delivery costs if you specifically requested non-standard (express) delivery. You will have to pay the costs of returning the goods to the trader.

For bulky goods (such as large household equipment), the trader must give you at least an estimation of the cost of returning the goods. You must send the goods back within 14 days of informing the trader that you wanted to withdraw.

Check that the trader informed you that you would have to bear the cost of sending the goods back during the cooling-off period. If not, he/she must also bear that cost. Bulky goods bought from a door-to-door salesman and delivered to you immediately must, however, be collected by the trader at his own expense.


Please note that you may not use goods that you have received before deciding to withdraw from the purchase. The right to withdraw exists to allow you to examine the product in the same way as you would in a shop, not to give you 14 days free use.

Be aware also that more specific rules apply to digital content (e.g. downloading or streaming music or video).

Certain products excluded

The 14-day "cooling off" period does not apply, among others, to:

  • plane and train tickets as well as concert tickets and hotel bookings for specific dates
  • food and drink delivered to you by regular delivery (such as delivery by a milkman).
  • goods made to order or clearly personalised (e.g. a tailor-made suit)
  • sealed data carriers, such as DVDs, which you have unsealed upon receipt.


Sample story

Be aware that you cannot change your mind for some types of purchases

Jane bought a ticket online for a U2 concert in Ireland. She found out the following day that she would have to be out of the country on the concert date, and attempted to withdraw from her order. However, the online trader refused to cancel the order and give her a refund.

Under EU rules you have the right to withdraw from purchases made online or through other methods of "distance selling" (such as phone or mail-order) within a 14-day window. However, there are "distance contracts" from which, under EU rules, you are not entitled to withdraw.


Examples of these are holiday accommodation and leisure entertainment reservations for specific dates.


Private sales also excluded

If you are purchasing goods from a private individual rather than a company, the transaction is not covered by the same consumer legislation. You do not have the legal right to change your mind within 14 days of your order.

Service contracts

You may also withdraw from a service contract - for instance a telephone subscription - concluded online or with a door-to-door salesman. You have 14 days to withdraw once the contract has been concluded.

If you want the trader to start providing the service - e.g. to connect your phone - directly without waiting for the 14-day period to lapse, you must expressly request this. If you nevertheless choose to withdraw after starting to receive the service, you must pay for the time you used it. If the service contract - for example, repainting a room - has been fully executed before the end of the 14-day withdrawal period, you can no longer withdraw as the work has been finished.

No withdrawal for urgent repairs

Specific rules apply to small businesses and craftsmen, such as a plumber. You don't have the right to withdraw in cases where you ordered urgent repairs and maintenance work. For instance, if you call a plumber to repair a leaking shower, you can't cancel the work once you have agreed on the price of the service.

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in this case, the 28 EU member states + Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway

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