Import-export Manual E-commerce
The fast evolution of technology has been followed by the ability of commercial procedures to adapt, thus introducing new regulations governing telecommunications and, in particular, the field of communications via the Internet.
In Italy, in order to set up an online shop, i.e. a professional e-commerce business, you are required to fulfil some mandatory administrative formalities.
- Registration with the Chamber of Commerce (the so-called “Comunica”);
- formalities needed for the sale of specific products (e.g. foodstuffs) and costs related to the use of any facilities;
- Business commencement declaration to be submitted to the one-stop business advisory centre in your town; Certified Notification of Business Commencement; unlike in the past, when you had to wait 30 days, now you may start doing business immediately and the municipal offices have 60 days to check for any failure to meet the legal requirements. The Notification of Business Commencement must include some information as established by the law (Art. 19, Italian Law No. 241/1990);
• the requirements of integrity and capability, and of the absence of criminal convictions or cases of bankruptcy;
• the product sector;
• the Internet domain name;
Furthermore, the following restrictions apply:
• prohibition to auction via television or via any other communication system.
• prohibition to send products to the consumer without a specific request (sending samples or gifts is allowed);
• prohibition to sell as a wholesaler and as a retailer simultaneously, unless the website has two distinct and separate sections;
The above-mentioned administrative formalities do not apply to some specific businesses. (Italian Legislative Decree No. 144/1998, Art. 3.2).
THE ONLINE CONTRACT: OBLIGATIONS, NEGOTIATIONS, CONCLUSION OF THE CONTRACT, THE RIGHT OF WITHDRAWAL AND PRIVACY
The online contract is a contract made out using a computer i.e. an agreement between parties who use IT devices connected with each other via the Internet and who are not in the same place at the moment of signing the contract (contract made between parties not present); the direct interface is the IT device.
Anyone who wishes to carry on an e-commerce business via a website (as established in the Italian Legislative Decree No. 70/2003, Art. 7), besides having to comply with information obligations, must also make the following pieces of information easily, permanently and directly accessible to the recipients:
• the name, or the company name;
• the address or the registered office;
• the details, including the e-mail address, which allow him to be contacted and to be communicated with directly;
• registration number in the Register of Economic Activities or in the company register;
• where the business is subject to an authorisation scheme, the details of the relevant supervisory authority;
• with respect to regulated professions:
- the details of any professional body or similar institution with which the service provider is registered, including the registration number;
- his professional title and the member State where that title was issued;
- a reference to the applicable professional rules and to the codes of conduct in the Member State of establishment;
• where the service provider carries out an activity that is subject to taxes, the VAT identification number;
• prices must be indicated clearly and unambiguously and, in particular, must indicate whether they are inclusive of tax and delivery costs and other items;
• the indication of the activities allowed to the consumer or the recipient of the service and the details of the contract;
It is not necessary to provide a telephone number, it is sufficient to have an electronic enquiry template through which the recipients of the service can contact the service provider via the Internet.
Moreover, (as established by the Italian Legislative Decree No. 70/2003, Art. 8) from the beginning, commercial communications must clearly state:
• the nature of the communication, i.e. that it is a commercial communication;
• the natural or legal person on whose behalf the commercial communication was made;
• if it is a promotional offer, such as discounts, prizes and gifts and the respective conditions for access;
RIGHT OF WITHDRAWAL
The seller must refund the price paid by the consumer within 30 days since the date of return of goods. The refund must include any deposit paid or the shipping costs (judgement of the Court of Justice of the European Union in 2010, in the case C-511/08). The Law establishes that the consumer may be charged for returns costs only.
With respect to fiscal aspects, for VAT businesses must consider the following:
• the homepage of the website must include the business’ VAT number (Italian Presidential Decree No. 633/1972, Art. 35, Paragraph 1);
• businesses are also required to inform the Italian Revenue Agency, through the Notification of Business Commencement or through any other means any variation of data, the website address as well as the identifying data of the internet service provider (Art. 35, Paragraph 2, Sub-paragraph e) of the Italian Presidential Decree No. 633/1972).