Last checked : 18/10/2018

Guarantees and returns

Under EU rules, a trader must repair, replace, reduce the price or give you a refund if goods you bought turn out to be faulty or do not look or work as advertised.

If you bought a good or a service online or outside of a shop (by telephone, mail order, from a door-to-door salesperson), you also have the right to cancel and return your order within 14 days, for any reason and with no justification.

Find out specific conditions to invoke guarantees and withdraw from purchases:

Guarantees for faulty goods

Free of charge, 2-year guarantee (legal guarantee) for all goods

Under EU rules you always have the right to a minimum 2-year guarantee at no cost, regardless of whether you bought your goods online, in a shop or by mail order.

This 2-year guarantee is your minimum right. National rules in your country may give you extra protection: however, any deviation from EU rules must always be in the consumer's best interest.

If goods you bought anywhere in the EU turn out to be faulty or do not look or work as advertised, the seller must repair or replace them free of charge or give you a price reduction or a full refund.

As a general rule, you will only be able to ask for a partial or full refund when it is not possible to repair or replace the goods.

You might not be entitled to a refund if the problem is minor, such as a scratch on a CD case.

How to get goods repaired, replaced or refunded

The 2-year guarantee period starts as soon as you receive your goods.

  • In some EU countries you must inform the seller within 2 months of discovering a fault, otherwise you may lose your right to the guarantee.
  • Within 6 months of receiving the goods, you need to show the trader that the goods are faulty or not as advertised.
  • After 6 months, in most EU countries, you need to prove that the defect already existed on receipt of the goods - for example, by showing that it is due to the poor quality of the materials used.

The trader always has to provide a solution. In some EU countries you also have the right to request a remedy from the producer.

The European Consumer Centre in your country can help if you have a problem with goods you bought in or from another EU country.

Sample story

Non-conformity of goods is not always immediately apparent

Mirek ordered a laptop, which appeared to work well. However, more than a year after buying it, he discovered that it had less memory than it was supposed to have.

Although this problem had not been obvious to him immediately, and the laptop was still functional, it nonetheless did not conform to what was advertised or agreed when he bought it. Mirek was therefore able to obtain a partial refund from the shop.

Additional guarantees (commercial guarantees, warranties)

Shops or producers will often offer you an additional commercial guarantee (also referred to as a warranty), either included in the price of the product or at an extra cost.

This can give you better protection but can never replace or reduce the minimum 2-year guarantee, which you always have under EU rules.

Similarly, if a shop sells you a new product more cheaply on a ‘no guarantee' basis, this only means that you don't have any additional protection. You always have the right to a 2-year guarantee free of charge if the product turns out to be faulty or not as advertised.

Sample story

Your 2-year legal guarantee cannot be shortened by a commercial guarantee

Carla bought a hairdryer with a 6-month seller's guarantee.

When it broke after 8 months, she took it back to the shop. The shop assistant told her that her guarantee had run out, and that she was not entitled to a refund.

Carla rightly pointed out that she had a full 2-year guarantee free of charge under EU consumer protection law, and that the seller's 6-month guarantee only offered additional services. The shop agreed to replace the hairdryer.

Second-hand goods

Second–hand goods that you buy from a trader are also covered by the minimum 2-year guarantee. However, goods bought from private individuals or at public auctions are not covered.

In some EU countries, the buyer and seller can agree to a guarantee period of less than 2 years, but it must be no shorter than 1 year. This should be made clear at the time of purchase.

For more detailed information about your rights under national law, check the specific rules on legal guarantees and commercial warranties for the country where you made your purchase:

Choose country

* Information not yet provided by national authorities

Cancel and return your order

14 days to cancel and return purchases made outside shops (online, by phone or mail order)

In the EU you have the right to return these purchases within 14 days for a full refund. You can do so for any reason – even if you simply changed your mind.

The 14-day "cooling off" period does not apply to all purchases. Some of the exemptions are:

  • plane and train tickets, as well as concert tickets, hotel bookings, car rental reservations and catering services for specific dates
  • goods and drinks delivered to you by regular delivery – for example delivery by a milkman.
  • goods made to order or clearly personalised – such as a tailor-made suit
  • sealed audio, video or computer software, such as DVDs, which you have unsealed upon receipt.
  • online digital content, if you have already started downloading or streaming it
  • goods bought from a private individual rather than a company
  • urgent repairs and maintenance contracts – 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.

Please note that this list is not exhaustive.

If you buy goods in a shop, you have no EU legal right to return the goods (for exchange or refund) unless the item is faulty. However, many shops voluntarily allow customers to return or exchange goods during a certain time period. Make sure you check the returns policy of the shop where you made your purchase.

The "cooling off" period expires 14 days after the day you received your goods. For service contracts, the "cooling off" period expires 14 days after the day you concluded the contract. If the cooling off period expires on a non-working day, your deadline is extended till the next working day.

Sample story

You can't 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 cancel her ticket. However, the online trader refused to cancel the order and give her a refund, as the 14 day colling off period doesn't apply to concert ticket purchases.

How to cancel a purchase

You must tell the trader that you want to cancel the purchase. 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 tell them about your decision, but you don't have to use it.

You can inform the trader and send back the goods at the same time, for example, by adding a written statement with the goods that you are returning by post, or by sending a fax or e-mail.

You must send the unused goods back within 14 days of informing the trader.

Some traders may not charge you for returning the goods. However, the trader should inform you if you have to pay the costs of returning the goods. If they don't inform you that you must pay for your return, the trader will have to pay the cost of your return. You don't have to pay any other charges that you were not informed of.

For bulky goods (such as large household equipment), the trader must give you at least an estimation of the cost of returning them. Bulky goods bought from a door-to-door salesperson and delivered to you immediately must always, however, be collected by the trader at their own expense.


The trader must give you a refund within 14 days of receipt of your cancellation, but they can delay refunding you if they haven't received the goods or evidence that you've returned them.

This refund must include any shipping charges you paid when you made your purchase. However, the trader may charge you delivery costs if you specifically requested non-standard (express) delivery.


EU legislation

Need more information on rules in a specific country?

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