International ecommerce laws you need to know by country

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Not so long ago, the internet was a near lawless state. It was a place where anything and everything could happen. You could do business there — but very much at your own risk. It was exciting but could be dangerous. Thankfully, those days have long gone. 

There’s a new sheriff in town, and the ecommerce landscape no longer looks like the Wild West.

In this article, we’ll share the international ecommerce laws you must abide by if you want to stay on the right side of the law in nine global markets, including:

  1. The United States
  2. Canada
  3. The United Kingdom
  4. The European Union
  5. China
  6. India
  7. Australia
  8. New Zealand
  9. Mexico

A word of caution: This guide has been compiled to offer a general overview of international ecommerce laws for online sellers. It is not intended to provide or be relied on for legal advice. We always recommend speaking with a qualified legal advisor for specific advice about your individual legal requirements.    

Regional regulations with a global impact

Writing an article about international ecommerce laws without first referencing a regulation that impacts sellers everywhere would be impossible. The EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) changed how the world dealt with consumer data before spawning a series of copycat regulations. These include the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) and the subsequent California Privacy Rights Act (CPRA). Similar laws exist in territories all over the world. The good news is that these regulations largely mirror the EU’s GDPR. 

Technology companies invest a lot of time and effort to ensure they comply with regulations like GDPR. Therefore, you should be in a good place if you work with trusted technology providers and are not doing anything silly like moving data around on spreadsheets, email, and memory sticks.

Now we’ve got the law that everyone has heard of out of the way, let’s dive into some of the other international laws that impact online sellers.

Ecommerce laws and regulations in the United States 

For no reason other than our previous reference to the Wild West, let’s start with the United States. So, how does an online seller targeting US consumers stay on the right side of the law? 

Consumer protection in the United States 

Online sellers should be aware of both federal and state consumer protection laws. These include the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) Act, which demands sellers provide accurate product descriptions, disclose relevant terms and conditions, and honor warranties and return policies.

Sales taxes in the United States

Online sellers may be required to collect and remit sales taxes on their online transactions. This will depend on various factors, such as the seller’s nexus (physical presence) in a state and their sales volume.

Data privacy in the United States

When collecting, storing, and using customer data, online sellers should be aware of federal and state laws relating to digital privacy. The aforementioned CCPA, CPRA, and GDPR laws are prime examples of regulations you must comply with. Even if your business is not based in these areas, you will still need to comply with these regulations if you collect data from residents or citizens of these regions.

Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS)

If you accept credit card payments, you must comply with PCI DSS requirements. Your payment gateway provider will ensure you comply with these regulations.

Intellectual property

Online sellers must not sell counterfeit goods and ensure proper licensing for copyrighted materials.

Marketing laws

Nobody likes a spammer. If you are sending emails, they must comply with the CAN-SPAM Act. You must also comply with regulations governing truth-in-advertising standards and endorsement disclosures.

Product Safety

Your products should be safe and comply with standards enforced by the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC).


The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) demands that ecommerce websites and marketing materials be accessible to individuals with disabilities. This means that your ecommerce platform should be compatible with assistive technologies and provide accessible content. When you consider that more than 12 million people over the age of 40 in the United States have some form of visual impairment, this isn’t just a legal requirement. It’s sound commercial sense.

Ecommerce laws and regulations in Canada

Just because Canada has a land border with the United States doesn’t mean the laws run parallel. For example, does your product packaging speak French? Read on:

Consumer protection in Canada

Canada has various federal and local consumer protection laws. These include The Competition Act, which covers misleading advertising, unfair business practices, and consumer rights relating to returns and refunds.

Data privacy laws in Canada

Canada has its own versions of GDPR. The Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA) governs the collection, use, and disclosure of personal data in commercial activities. 

Canadian anti-spam laws

Like the US CAN-Spam regulations, Canada’s Anti-Spam Legislation (CASL) requires businesses to obtain consent before sending commercial email, text, and social media messages. All messages should accurately identify the sender and provide mechanisms to unsubscribe from future messages.

Tax laws in Canada

Online sellers may be required to register and collect Goods and Services Tax (GST) or Harmonized Sales Tax (HST) on sales made to Canadian customers. The liability for these taxes will depend on the seller’s annual revenue and the customer’s location. 

Consumer packaging and labeling

Canada’s consumer packaging and labeling regulations require accurate product information in English and French. Products not complying with the rules may be held at the border.

Product safety

Online sellers importing goods into Canada should ensure that their products meet the product safety regulations enforced by Health Canada


Under the Canadian Human Rights Act, online sellers and digital publishers must ensure that all contact is accessible to people with disabilities.

Ecommerce laws and regulations in the United Kingdom

Half-way between the United States and its former home in the European Union, the United Kingdom has its own set of laws governing online sellers:

Consumer protection in the UK 

Consumer protection laws, including the Consumer Rights Act 2015, govern issues such as accurate product descriptions, accurate pricing information, and consumer rights regarding returns and refunds. 

Data protection laws in the UK

Just because the UK has left the EU doesn’t mean the GDPR doesn’t apply anymore. The UK has its own version of the GDPR, imaginatively titled the UK GDPR. If you are already familiar with the GDPR, don’t worry too much about reading up on the UK GDPR. They are essentially the same laws. 

Distance selling laws in the UK 

The Consumer Contracts (Information, Cancellation and Additional Charges) Regulations 2013 replaced previous Distance Selling Regulations. Online sellers must provide their consumers with specific information before and after making a purchase and give the right to cancel or return a product within a specified period for any reason. 

Online payments in the UK 

They must comply with the Payment Services Regulations 2017. Again, your payment gateway should have this covered.

Advertising and marketing laws in the UK 

Online sellers should comply with advertising and marketing laws. These include the codes and regulations set out by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) concerning misleading advertising, comparative advertising, and data protection in marketing communications.

Intellectual property laws in the UK 

It is illegal to sell fake or counterfeit goods in the UK and online sellers must respect intellectual property rights. This includes not infringing on trademarks, copyrights, and patents. 

Value Added Tax (VAT)

Online sellers may need to register for VAT on sales to customers in the UK and EU. This will depend on factors, including the seller’s turnover and the consumers’ location.

Product safety

Online sellers must guarantee that their products comply with relevant safety standards and regulations. The Office for Product Safety and Standards (OPSS) and Trading Standards enforce these regulations in the UK.


Under the Equality Act 2010, online sellers’s websites and marketing materials must comply with accessibility requirements. These are designed to ensure that individuals with disabilities can access and use online services.

Ecommerce laws and regulations in the European Union (EU)

While the US represents the most mature market for online sellers, it could be argued that the European Union is the most progressive in protecting consumers with legislation focused on ecommerce and digital marketing:  

The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)

Let’s start with the big one. The GDPR governs the processing of personal data of individuals within the EU, including any data collected through ecommerce sales. We’ve already talked about this, but it’s worth remembering. Regardless of where your business is based or the location of your customers, GDPR compliance isn’t something you can ignore.

Consumer rights in the EU 

The EU’s Consumer Rights Directive harmonizes consumer protection rules across the EU. It sets out rules for distance selling, including pre-contractual information, cancellation rights, and delivery obligations. 

Payment services

The Payment Services Directive (PSD2) regulates payment services across the EU to enhance security, innovation, and consumer trust in electronic payments. The PSD2 states that online sellers must comply with requirements for Strong Customer Authentication (SCA) and other security standards when accepting online payments. 

VAT in the EU 

Online sellers must comply with VAT regulations governing cross-border sales within the EU. The EU’s VAT rules for online sellers saw widespread changes following the introduction of the One Stop Shop (OSS) and Import One Stop Shop (IOSS) schemes, simplifying VAT compliance for sellers.


Online sellers must ensure equal access to their websites regardless of where customers are located in the EU.

Product safety

Online sellers must comply with EU product safety regulations. These include specific requirements for product labeling and safety standards. All products sold online must meet applicable EU safety laws and, if required, feature the CE marking.

Consumer protection

National consumer protection laws in the EU include regulations governing advertising, unfair commercial practices, and warranty rights. Online sellers must include accurate product descriptions, transparent pricing information, and effective remedies for consumers in case of non-compliance.

Cookies regulations in the EU

Who doesn’t love a cookie? The EU, for a start. Online sellers must obtain consent from users before deploying cookies or similar tracking technologies on their devices.

Intellectual property

Online sellers in the EU must respect intellectual property rights, including trademarks, copyrights, and patents. 

Ecommerce laws and regulations in China

With more than a billion consumers, China is a thoroughly modern nation that is pushing the boundaries of ecommerce. As such, it has a set of rules and regulations to ensure online sellers play by the rules:

Ecommerce Law of the People’s Republic of China

This ecommerce law, which came into effect in 2019, governs various aspects of ecommerce activities in China, including business registration, consumer rights, online transactions, and platform liabilities. The regulations were designed to safeguard the lawful rights and interests of everyone involved in ecommerce, regulate business practices, and promote the sustainable development of online sales in China.

Consumer protection in China 

Online sellers must comply with China’s Consumer Rights Protection Law. This establishes consumers’ rights and obligations by ensuring sellers provide accurate product information, fully disclose relevant terms and conditions, and protect consumers’ rights to return goods and receive refunds.

Cybersecurity laws in China

China’s cybersecurity laws require ecommerce platforms and sellers to protect the security of their customer’s personal information and other important data. Online sellers must deploy measures to safeguard any user data and, in the event of cybersecurity breaches, report any incidents to the authorities.

Intellectual property

In recent years, China has strengthened its enforcement of intellectual property laws. As a result, ecommerce platforms are obliged to take measures to prevent the sale of fake or counterfeit goods.

Advertising and marketing standards in China

Misleading advertising practices are prohibited. Online sellers should ensure that promotional campaigns are accurate and truthful and comply with relevant standards.

Import and export regulations in China

Online sellers engaged in cross-border trade should be aware of China’s import and export laws/ These include paying any customs duties or tariffs due and complying with specific requirements for certain products. 

VAT in China

Online sellers must comply with China’s tax laws and regulations. These include VAT obligations on the sales of goods and services. 

Ecommerce laws and regulations in India

Once famous for its bureaucracy, modern India is built on a solid foundation of digital technology. To support this growth, it has a comprehensive set of rules and regulations governing the burgeoning ecommerce industry:

The Information Technology Act, 2000 (IT Act)

The IT Act governs various aspects of ecommerce in India, including electronic contracts, digital signatures, and data protection. When selling online, online sellers must comply with rules relating to electronic records and electronic signatures.

Consumer protection in India 

The Consumer Protection (Ecommerce) Rules (2020) detail specific obligations for online sellers in India regarding product information, grievance redressal, seller liability, and consumer protection.

Goods and Services Tax (GST) in India

Online sellers must register for GST and collect and remit payments as required on the sale of taxable goods. Sellers may also be liable to pay duties on any products they import into India.

Foreign Exchange Management Act (FEMA)

FEMA regulates foreign exchange transactions in India, including payments and receipts related to online sales. Online retailers must comply with FEMA rules regarding foreign currency transactions, repatriation of funds, and foreign exchange transactions.

Intellectual property in India 

Online sellers must respect intellectual property rights in India. To aid the process, ecommerce platforms and online marketplaces have been tasked with preventing the sale of fake or counterfeit goods and will request sellers to remove any listings.

Data protection laws in India 

India has its own version of GDPR in the Digital Personal Data Protection Act, 2023 (DPDPA). Although very similar to the GDPR, the DPDPA does have some key differences

Advertising standards in India 

Online sellers must adhere to India’s advertising standards and regulations. These include rules relating to misleading advertisements, comparative advertising, and product endorsements. Essentially, online sellers must ensure that any ads are truthful, transparent, and comply with applicable standards.

Ecommerce laws and regulations in Australia

Australians pride themselves on giving everyone a “fair go.” They have laws in place to ensure all online sellers share this attitude:

Consumer law in Australia

 The Australian Consumer Law (ACL) protects consumers against unfair business practices. Online sellers must comply with the ACL, including consumer guarantees, misleading or deceptive conduct, unfair contract terms, and product safety standards.

Privacy laws in Australia 

While Australia doesn’t have its own version of the GDPR, many privacy policies are already covered by the Australian Privacy Act of 1988. The Act sets out rules governing the collection, use, and disclosure of personal information, as well as requirements for data security and privacy notifications.

Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS)

Online sellers accepting credit card payments must comply with PCI DSS to ensure the secure handling of payment card data. Your payment gateway should have you covered.

Goods and Services Tax (GST) in Australia 

Online sellers must comply with Australia’s GST rules, which tax the supply of goods and services. 

Competition law in Australia 

Online sellers must comply with Australia’s Competition and Consumer Act 2010, which prohibits anti-competitive behavior, collusion, and abuse of market power.

Product Safety

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) and local consumer protection agencies demand that products sold online meet relevant safety standards and labeling requirements.

Advertising standards in Australia

Online sellers in Australia must comply with advertising regulations that prohibit false or misleading advertising and comparative advertising. There are also strict rules governing advertising targeting children.

Intellectual property

Online sellers must respect intellectual property rights in Australia. Ecommerce platforms and online marketplaces are required to police and remove listings for fake or counterfeit goods.

Ecommerce laws and regulations in New Zealand

Don’t you dare confuse New Zealand with Australia? It has its own unique history, culture, and personality. It’s also got its own set of ecommerce laws:

Consumer rights in New Zealand

Online sellers in New Zealand must comply with The Consumer Guarantees Act of 1993 (CGA), which sets out consumer rights and obligations relating to the quality and fitness for purpose of goods and services. The GCA also regulates product guarantees and warranties and insists that sellers deal with consumer grievances in a timely and satisfactory fashion.

Fair trading laws in New Zealand 

New Zealand’s Fair Trading Act of 1986 (FTA) prohibits misleading or deceptive conduct, false representations, and unfair trading practices. Online sellers must guarantee that their advertising, marketing, and sales practices comply with FTA regulations.

Privacy laws in New Zealand

New Zealand’s Privacy Act 2020 governs the collection, use, and disclosure of personal information. The Act has brought New Zealand’s personal data protection framework closer to the GDPR.

Goods and Services Tax (GST) in New Zealand

Online sellers may be required to register for and collect GST on the sales of taxable goods and services in New Zealand.

Advertising standards in New Zealand

Online sellers should comply with New Zealand’s Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) codes of practice.

Intellectual property

The sale of fake or counterfeit products is prohibited in New Zealand.

Product safety

Online seller’s products must meet relevant safety standards and labeling requirements. The Commerce Commission and other regulatory agencies in New Zealand enforce these trading standards. 

Ecommerce laws and regulations in Mexico

Bordering the United States, Mexico is an attractive destination for many international online sellers. But sellers won’t only have to get to grips with “Espanol.” There are also local laws they’ll need to follow:

Consumer protection in Mexico

Mexico’s Federal Consumer Protection Law (LFPC), referred to locally as Ley Federal de Protección al Consumidor, governs consumer rights and protections. Online sellers should comply with the LFPC regarding consumer guarantees, accurate product information, fair advertising, and dispute resolution.

Data protection in Mexico 

Mexico’s Federal Law on Protection of Personal Data Held by Private Parties (LFPDPPP) governs the processing of personal data by private entities. Online sellers must comply with LFPDPPP requirements for the collection, use, and protection of Mexican consumers’ personal information.

VAT and Income Tax in Mexico

Online sellers may be subject to Mexico’s VAT system, which collects taxation on the supply of goods and services. Sellers may also be liable for paying income taxes on profits derived from sales in Mexico and must comply with customs and import regulations. These include complying with requirements for customs clearance, import duties, tariffs, and other importation procedures.

Intellectual property in Mexico

The sale of fake or counterfeit products is prohibited in Mexico and is policed by the various ecommerce platforms and online marketplaces.

Advertising and marketing 

Online sellers should ensure that any advertising or marketing materials are accurate and truthful.

Product safety

Online sellers in Mexico must comply with product safety regulations enforced by PROFECO (Procuraduría Federal del Consumidor) and other regulatory agencies in Mexico. 

The legal framework governing international ecommerce is constantly changing. While laws and regulations often have to play catch up with new technologies, anything and everything can change at pace. As such, Linnworks always recommends seeking expert legal advice before embarking on any new international ecommerce journey. 

Once you have secured your legal status in a new global market, Linnworks can help you optimize your warehouse management, logistics, and ecommerce strategies to maximize your impact in these territories.

To learn more or to see Linnworks in action, contact us or request a demo today.  

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John Hayes

John Hayes

Marketing strategist and author who has been helping businesses develop their online marketing strategies for more than 20-years. Working alongside some of the biggest names in ecommerce and online marketing, he has dedicated much of his career to demystifying the web and highlighting opportunities for businesses to grow. He is the author of five books and is widely recognized as an influential thought leader in content, email and social media.