Geographically based restrictions undermine online shopping and cross-border sales in the Digital Single Market. The Commission put an end to unjustified geo-blocking rules, which apply since 3 December 2018.

What is unjustified geo-blocking?

Discrimination between EU customers to segment markets along national borders and to increase profits to the detriment of foreign customers, is considered as unjustified geo-blocking.

The regulation

The geo-blocking regulation defines three specific situations of unjustified geo-blocking:

  • The sale of goods without physical delivery

Example: A Belgian customer wishes to buy a refrigerator and finds the best deal on a German website. The customer will be entitled to order the product and collect it at the trader's premises or organise delivery himself to his home.

  • The sale of electronically supplied services

Example: A Bulgarian consumer wishes to buy hosting services for her website from a Spanish company. She will now have access to the service, can register and buy this service without having to pay additional fees compared to a Spanish consumer.

  • The sale of services provided in a specific physical location

Example: An Italian family visits a French theme park and wishes to take advantage of a family discount on the price of the entry tickets. The discounted price will be available for the Italian family.

There are also justified reasons for traders not to sell cross-border. Such as the need to register at a tax authority in the country of destination, higher shipping costs or costs arising from the application of foreign consumer law. While outside barriers create additional complications and extra costs for the trader, differences in the treatment of customers are based on objective criteria.

For better understanding of the regulation, the Commission issued a detailed Questions & Answers document and a MEMO.

This regulation was part of an e-commerce package together with a legislative proposal on cross-border parcel delivery services and a legislative proposal to strengthen enforcement of consumers' rights.

The next steps

Within two years after the entry into force of the new rules, the Commission will carry out a first evaluation of their impact on the internal market.

The Commission will also include in its evaluation an assessment of the scope of the rules. This includes possible application of the new rules to certain electronically supplied services which offer copyright-protected content such as music, e-books, software and online games, as well as of services in sectors such as transport and audio-visual.

Useful links

  • 10 key features of Regulation 2018/302
  • Questions and answers (available in the following languages: BG, CS, DA, DE, EL, EN, ES, ET, FI, FR, HR, HU, IT, LT, LV, MT, NL, PL, PT, RO, SK, SL, SV) and Factsheet related to Regulation 2018/302
  • Press release - Joint statement by Vice-President Ansip, Commissioners Bieńkowska and Gabriel following the European Parliament's vote to end unjustified geo-blocking
  • Regulation (EU) 2018/302  on addressing unjustified geo-blocking and other forms of discrimination based on customers' nationality, place of residence or place of establishment within the internal market 

Implementation of geo-blocking by Member States

Implementation of Geoblocking by Member States

Click on one of the Member States displayed in the map to see the state of play of implementation of the Geoblocking regulation in that country.