A consumer has the right to withdraw, within 14 calendar days, without giving reasons and without any penalties, when they change their mind following the conclusion of a distance contract or an off-premises contract
The two parties still have some obligations, even though the contract is considered never to have been concluded.
Who is concerned
A consumer who has concluded a distance contract or an off-premises contract with a professional has the right to withdraw from the contract.
The professional must provide the consumer with a withdrawal form.
However, for some contracts, the law does not specify any right to withdraw. The parties may, however, decide to set one.
The time in which the consumer is allowed to withdraw is 14 calendar days. This time begins:
- for the delivery of goods, on the day when the consumer, or someone designated by the consumer, receives the goods – i.e. physically takes possession of the goods;
- for services, from the date of conclusion of the contract;
- for supply of water, gas, or electricity not packaged in limited-volume containers or specific quantity, on the day of the conclusion of the contract;
- for urban heating services, on the day of the conclusion of the contract;
- for digital content not provided on a physical medium, on the day of the conclusion of the contract.
Specifics concerning timescales regarding delivery of goods:
- if several products are ordered in a single order and must be delivered separately, the time begins running upon receipt of the last product;
- if the product is delivered in batches or in separate parts, the time begins running upon receipt of the last batch or item;
- when it is a matter of a regular delivery of goods over the course of a given time period, the time begins running from receipt of the first article.
It should be noted that if the professional does not inform the consumer that they have a withdrawal period (specifying the conditions, time and methods of execution of the right to withdraw), the right remains in force for 12 months, starting from when the initial time period should have expired. If, during the 12-month time period, the professional informs the consumer of their right to withdraw (including the conditions, timescale and methods of exercising that right), it is then reduced to 14 days starting from the day of receipt of this information.
If the last day of the time period is not a working day, it is extended until the next working day.
The right to withdraw must be respected when the consumer notifies the professional of their decision to withdraw within 14 days, the starting point of which may vary from case to case:
- for service contracts, on the day of the conclusion of the contract;
- for sales contracts, on the day when the consumer, or a third party other than the transporter and designated by the consumer, physically takes possession of the goods, or:
- in the case of multiple goods ordered by the consumer in a single order and delivered separately, on the day when the consumer, or third party other than the transporter and designated by the consumer, physically takes possession of the goods;
- in the case of delivery of goods in batches or multiple parts, on the day when the consumer, or third party other than the transporter and designated by the consumer, physically takes possession of the last batch or article;
- in the case of contracts involving regular delivery of goods over a specific period of time, on the day when the consumer, or a third party other than the transporter and designated by the consumer, physically takes possession of the goods;
- for contracts for supply of water, gas or electricity not packaged in limited-volume containers or in a specific quantity, and for urban heating and digital content not provided on a physical medium, on the day of the conclusion of the contract.
The consumer does not need to wait for delivery of the goods to exercise their right to withdraw. That is, they may withdraw at any point after the conclusion of the sales contract. There is no need to provide any justification. The only expenses that may be charged to the consumer due to the exercise of their right to withdraw are direct costs for the return of the goods.
How to proceed
Notice of withdrawal
The consumer may inform the professional of the fact that they wish to withdraw from the contract either orally or in writing. Consumers do not need to provide any reason for their decision to withdraw.
As the consumer must be able to show proof that they have decided to withdraw, it is advisable to express that decision in writing, providing notice by registered mail with acknowledgement of receipt. The consumer may, in this case, send the following to the professional:
- the duly completed standard form that the professional must provide to them or;
- another declaration in which they clearly express their decision to withdraw from contract.
The professional may also, on their website, provide the consumer with the option of completing and sending a withdrawal declaration online. The professional must then immediately acknowledge receipt of the consumer's withdrawal notice by way of a receipt on a durable medium.
Effects of the withdrawal on the contract
If the consumer withdraws, the parties' obligations stipulated in the contract become null and void. Thus, the consumer has no further obligation to pay the agreed price, and the professional is no longer required to deliver the goods or provide the service.
If the price of the goods or services is entirely or partially covered by credit granted to the consumer by the professional or a third party, based on an agreement between that third party and the professional, the withdrawal automatically entails termination of the credit agreement without penalty.
Withdrawal from a distance contract also entails, without any cost to the consumer (barring exceptions specified below), termination of any ancillary contract – e.g. lease of a car (main contract) and insurance for the duration of the lease (ancillary contract).
Return of goods and costs incurred
If a delivery has already been made or a service has begun being provided, some obligations still apply to the two parties, even after the consumer's withdrawal.
Obligations of the professional
In the case of the consumer's withdrawal, the professional must reimburse the consumer for the any payments already made, including any delivery costs. In fact, the professional does not have to reimburse any additional costs if the consumer has expressly chosen a method of delivery other than the least expensive standard delivery offered by the professional.
Reimbursement must be made without excessive delay, within 14 days of the date on which they received notice of the consumer's decision to withdraw.
If the reimbursement is not made within this 14-day time period, interest at the legal rate shall be added to the amount outstanding to be reimbursed.
For sales contracts, the professional may defer the reimbursement of the amount paid until the products are returned, or until they see proof of sending of the products. This deferral does not mean that the professional intends to recover the goods themselves.
The reimbursement must be made by the same means of payment that the consumer used, unless the consumer agreed otherwise, and on condition that any new method of payment does not involve costs for the consumer.
The professional does not have to reimburse the additional cost of delivery of goods if the consumer has chosen a method of delivery other than the least expensive method offered by the professional.
Obligations of the consumer
If the contract pertains to the delivery of goods
If the professional does not offer to recover the goods themselves, the consumer may return them by sending them back or physically delivering them to the professional or any person authorised by the professional to receive them, without excessive delay and within 14 days of providing notice of their withdrawal.
The costs for returning of the goods are to be paid by the consumer, unless the professional agrees to absorb such costs or when the professional has failed to inform the consumer that the latter must bear the costs.
It must be pointed out that, even though they have the right to withdraw, the consumer is still responsible for any depreciation of the goods. The consumer must therefore handle the goods and inspect them in the same way as would be allowed in store (for example, by trying on clothing for a short time and not wearing it for a longer period of time).
For the provision of a service, despite the withdrawal, the consumer must pay the professional an amount proportional to what has already been provided at the time when they informed the professional of their decision to withdraw.
The amount to pay is calculated with respect to the total price specified in the contract. If this amount is too high, the amount to pay is calculated with respect to the sales value of what has been provided.
The consumer, on the other hand has nothing to pay:
- for the provision of service, urban heat or supply of water, gas or electricity supply when not packaged in a limited-volume container or in a specific quantity:
- when the professional has not provided the consumer with information on the right to withdraw; or
- when the consumer has not expressly requested that the execution begin during the withdrawal period;
- for the supply of digital content not provided on a physical medium when:
- the consumer has not expressly requested that the execution begin during the withdrawal period; or
- the consumer has not acknowledged loss of their right to withdraw by giving their agreement; or
- the professional has not provided confirmation of the concluded contract.
Forms / Online services
Who to contact
General Directorate for Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises (Internal Market and Consumption Directorate)19-21, boulevard Royal
Phone : (+352) 247-84361Fax : (+352) 221607