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Sale of Goods for businesses

Certain information must be provided to customers if goods are sold online, through digital TV, by mail order, by phone, fax or text message.

Before an order is placed certain information must be displayed:

  • business name and contact details
  • description of the goods or services
  • the price, including all taxes
  • payment method
  • delivery arrangements, costs and expected delivery time
  • the minimum length of the contract
  • termination conditions
  • information about the customer’s right to cancel within 14 days
  • The customer must be informed if they will be responsible for paying for returns if they cancel. If the customer is not notified, she is not liable for the costs.

After order is placed

The customer must be contacted in writing after an order is placed and before delivery.

The customer must be notified of:

  • details of purchase
  • total cost
  • delivery arrangements
  • minimum duration of any contract and arrangements for terminating contract
  • how and when they can cancel an order and who pays for returns
  • an address for any complaints 
  • any guarantees or after sales services offered 
  • termination conditions
  • a helpline telephone number (and any applicable call charges) or a mobile or free number

Note the extra rules below for online selling.

Sale of Goods Act    All businesses that supply goods, including online and distance sellers, must comply with the provisions of the Sale of Goods Act.

Note that if you sell goods or services, you could be classed as self-employed (i.e. a sole trader).

Selling online

There are in addition some extra rules for online sales:

  • list steps involved when a customer places an order 
  • acknowledge receipt of any orders electronically as soon as practicable
  • take reasonable steps to allow customers to correct any errors in their order 
  • let customers know what languages are available to them
  • make sure customers can store and reproduce your terms and conditions, i.e. these can be downloaded and printed off
  • give your email address 
  • give your VAT number (if VAT registered) 
  • give clear prices and delivery costs

Note that if you sell goods or services, you could be classed as self-employed (i.e. sole trader).

Overseas sales

Selling in the EU     VAT must be charged to EU customers if charged to UK customers.

Selling outside of the EU     VAT must not be charged for customers outside the EU - instead, a customs declaration must be completed when the goods are shipped.

A ‘proof of export’ must be retained if the sale is to customers outside the EU, which will include:

  • the customer’s order – inc. name, VAT number and delivery address 
  • internal correspondence 
  • sales invoices 
  • advice notes 
  • packing lists 
  • consignment notes
  • commercial transport documents 
  • details of insurance or freight charges and other related costs 
  • bank statements

This article is for information purposes only and does not constitute specific legal advice. For further information on any issues relating to the sale of goods and services, distance and online selling, selling overseas and VAT, please contact us on +44 (0)20 8528 1132 or at