When traders who are active in the European Economic Area do not give European consumers or undertakings acting as end-users the opportunity to purchase goods or services across borders, we call it geo-blocking. It is also geo-blocking whenever goods or services are not offered on the same terms as for local residents. The regulation on addressing unjustified geo-blocking and other forms of discrimination based on customers' citizenship, place of residence or place of establishment within the internal market has been in force since 3 December 2018 and is commonly referred to as the geo-blocking regulation).
- How does geo-blocking take place?
- Who is protected?
- What is not allowed?
- Other frequently asked questions (FAQs)
- Latest News
How does geo-blocking take place?
There are various ways for traders of goods and services to find out the countries their customers are from. An online trader can detect a foreign buyer, for example, by the address used when making a purchase by credit card, the IP address or the buyer’s telephone number, and can then block its website or change its prices and conditions. There are various possible means of geo-blocking.
For example, when making online purchases, customers from other EU countries might be prevented from
- accessing one or more country-specific versions of a trader’s online store,
- placing an order and having the purchased goods delivered within the trader’s delivery area,
- putting an item in their basket, or
It is also possible for geo-blocking to occur when making purchases in person – for instance if different entry prices apply for tourists than for local people.
Who is protected?
The geo-blocking regulation protects "customers". These are consumers who hold citizenship from an EU country or have their place of residence in an EU country. The regulation also protects end-use undertakings if they are based in an EU country and receive a service solely for end use or purchase goods for end use. The geo-blocking regulation, however, does not protect undertakings that resell, convert, process or lease goods or services, or transfer them to subcontractors.
What is not allowed?
Discrimination due to a customer’s place of residence, place of establishment or citizenship is generally prohibited. The bottom line is that people should be able to "shop like a local" throughout the EU.
Some examples of different types of prohibited discrimination:
Example: You want to place an order at an online store in France and are automatically redirected to the German version of the online store.
Example: Different conditions for car rental depending on the contracting party's country of origin.
Example: An online trader allows payment by credit card, but restricted to customers from the trader's country of origin. There is no payment option for international customers.