The prices of products or services must be clearly displayed and easily legible and visible. They must be expressed in euros and include VAT and all other applicable taxes.
The actual price charged by the professional may not be higher than the price displayed.
Who is concerned
The obligation to display prices applies to all professionals who offer a product or service to a consumer.
A professional is any natural or legal persons, public or private, who engages in a commercial, industrial, artisanal or professional activity, in their own right or through other persons or entities acting in their name or on their behalf.
A consumer is any natural person who acts within an environment unrelated to their commercial, industrial, artisanal or professional activity.
How to proceed
Different ways of displaying prices
The price must be indicated in writing in a manner that is unambiguous, legible and identifiable. The consumer cannot be obliged to request information on the price from the seller or service provider. Verbal information at the consumer's request is therefore not sufficient.
The price must be displayed in euros.
Apart from these common rules, obligations differ depending on whether it is a good or a service that is being sold.
If a product is being sold
In principle, sellers must display 2 prices:
- the selling price for an item (for example: price of one steak);
- the price of the product per unit of measurement (for example: price of steak per kilo).
This is called dual display of prices. The units of measurement to be used are the kilogram, the litre, the square metre or the cubic metre.
For certain pre-packaged products, not only the net weight but also the drained net weight must be displayed. In this case, only the price at the drained net weight (for a jar of pickles, for example) needs to be displayed. For laundry products, a washing unit for a normal load of washing machine can also be used as a measuring unit.
However, if the store's sales area is smaller than 400m², or if it is an itinerant business, it is sufficient to indicate the selling price (unit price).
However, these stores must display both prices if several businesses are operated by the same natural or legal person
and if the sales area of one (or more) of these businesses is greater than 400m².
In these same shops, the price per measuring unit must be indicated for products sold in bulk. These are products that are not pre-packaged and are measured in the presence of the consumer, such as oranges, unwrapped cheese sold at the counter, ropes or plate glass. The final selling price cannot be displayed in advance.
It is also not necessary to display the price per unit of measurement in the following cases:
- certain food products;
- non-food products, except for certain products;
- products sold when providing a service, such as shampoo sold in a hairdressing salon;
- selling price identical to price per unit of measurement. (for example: a one-litre bottle).
For products sold in bulk, only the price per unit of measurement needs to be displayed.
For different products in the same package, it is sufficient to indicate the selling price of the set.
How should the price be displayed by the seller?
Prices must be displayed individually if one of the following features makes a product distinctive:
- type (e.g. a T-shirt versus a shirt); or
- quality (e.g. a silk shirt versus a cotton shirt); or
- packaging (e.g.): t-shirts in packs of 2 or single-packed t-shirt, socks in packs of 3); or
- presentation (e.g. 5 five shirts on a display or one shirt displayed by itself on a mannequin).
Prices may be displayed collectively if they are for identical products which are displayed in the same area (e.g. a large basket of espadrilles).
Price displays inside and outside the premises:
If products are displayed inside the store in plain sight, their prices must be clearly visible inside the premises.
If products are displayed in outdoor showcases or displays, their price must be clearly visible from the outside. It must be possible for consumers to know the price of a product without having to enter the shop to ask for the price.
If products are not displayed in the shop in plain sight but can be purchased either inside the shop itself or in a room right next to the shop, then it is not necessary to put a label with the price on each product individually. Only a list of prices needs to be displayed in the shop. (Example: sale of screws stored in a room behind the sales counter. Each screw does not need to be labelled individually. A list of prices in the store, clearly visible to the public, is all that is needed.)
If a service is being provided
For their most common services, service providers, except for those providing professional services, must display their unit rates, inclusive of VAT and/or any other taxes (e.g. hairdressing salons, restaurants and cafés must display their rates, but architecture or law firms are not required to do so because they are liberal professions).
Service included: Establishments that serve alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages, hotels and boarding houses, restaurants and tea rooms must also display their prices inclusive of service.
As is the case with prices of products, service providers must display their rates in a clear, understandable and legible manner.
If the final price can not be set in advance, the various elements or criteria used to calculate the total price must be displayed. This applies in particular to hourly rates, inclusive of all taxes, labour and travel expenses (e.g. an installer will display hourly rates inclusive of taxes for labour and travel expenses).
In all cases, prices must be displayed inside the shop.
If a professional has facilities available and accessible to the public, prices must be displayed not only inside but also outside the premises. It must be possible for the consumer to know the prices from outside the premises (e.g. a hairdressing salon, restaurant, café or driving school).
Taxis must also post their fares on the outside and the inside of the vehicle.
If the number or complexity of the services offered does not allow the prices to be displayed, it is possible to indicate the prices:
- in a catalogue or other brochure that the service provider makes available to the consumer in their office;
- in an estimate which must mention the total amount to be paid, inclusive of all taxes.
The price displayed in an advertisement, such as an advertising leaflet or on TV, forms part of the sales contract or contract for the service provided subsequently. If the subsequent price is not the same as the price displayed in the advertisement, the consumer has the right to ask for the contract to be terminated.
There is a special rule for shops of less than 400m² and for itinerant businesses. For these, it is not mandatory to display the price of products sold by unit of measurement. However, advertising by such professionals must still display the selling price and the price of the product per unit of measurement.