New Geo-Blocking Rules Take Effect

EU law makes it easier for people to shop online

New Geo-Blocking Regulation took effect on 3 December 2018 across the European Union (EU).

Geo-blocking refers to practices used by online sellers to restrict online cross-border sales based on nationality, residence or place of establishment.

The regulation seeks to prohibit unjustified geo-blocking, such as:

  • blocking customers from accessing offers in other countries
  • re-routing customers back to a country-specific website
  • not accepting credit cards from other EU countries
  • preventing people to register on a website based on their location

The new rules apply to a wide range of goods, as well as services such as web domain hosting and entertainment tickets for concerts.

The rules can also apply to certain business-to-business transactions, including cross-border cloud computing contracts.

The regulation has direct effect across the EU, although each country is responsible for applying its own enforcement mechanisms.

UK geo-blocking regulation
In the UK, the Geo-Blocking (Enforcement) Regulations 2018 have also come into force, arranging for the domestic enforcement of the new geo-blocking rules.

The regulations confirm that the Competition and Markets Authority is responsible for the UK enforcement of the rules. Under the UK regulations, customers can also raise a claim against businesses that breach certain provisions of the new geo-blocking rules where that breach results in the customer suffering loss or damage.

Find out more about geo-blocking regulation.