How to successfully launch your online business in Spain
Many businesses are looking to expand into the Spanish market, which is diverse and has extensive opportunities. Any business looking to do this must be aware of the requisites that a business must comply with in order to safely access the Spanish consumer market (B2C) by selling goods through their websites, as these requisites may differ from other countries. This article summarizes the main aspects to be considered, which include consumer protection, data protection, e-commerce, regulatory aspects, and invoices and tax aspects.
First, Spanish Consumer Protection falls under EU law, whereby the laws of the country of the consumer’s habitual residence must protect them. Therefore, businesses must adapt their general terms and conditions to Spanish law and these terms and conditions must be clear and simple enough to enable a direct understanding. Spanish consumer law specifies that the seller must provide the consumer the following specific information before they enter into any agreement, among others: identity of the seller, paying methods, and the consumer’s right of withdrawal (consumers must be clearly informed of the existence of their withdrawal right). The seller must offer legal warranty and if there is lack of conformity of the goods, there are various options for the consumer, one being that consumers can ask for a price reduction of the goods.
Second, the Spanish Data Protection Law requires obtaining express consent of the individual in order to validly collect personal data, along with the right to access personal data processed by the controller, rights to rectification, cancellation and opposition.
Third, Spanish Law states that businesses must permanently make certain information available to users and authorities by electronic means such as the corporate address (or a permanent office located in Spain), a contact e-mail address, and the company’s registration data in the Company Registry . A business is strictly forbidden from sending commercial communications via electronic means to a consumer or potential consumer without the consumer’s previous request or authorization. A business must be able to prove that the consumer authorized or requested the commercial communication. This can only be done by a double-opt in procedure.
Fourth, any acts that provide an unfair advantage to any economic agent in the Spanish market are subject to the Spanish Unfair Competition Law. Unfair advantages could include aggressive marketing techniques, exploitation of another´s reputation or breaches of confidentiality. Businesses must also be aware of the Royal Decree on labelling materials and cosmetic products.
Lastly, invoices and tax rules must be followed to successfully have an online business operating in Spain. Businesses must adhere to Spanish VAT and fulfil relevant tax obligations. They must also issue invoices. However, typically an online business with no physical presence in Spain will not be susceptible to any Spanish tax regime.
It is important for businesses to be aware of the rules and regulations that are applied to online businesses that operate in Spain to ensure the smooth running of their company. Requisites from country to country differ and it is important to be fully aware of each country’s requirements so that access to the consumer market is beneficial and fair for all parties involved.
Jade Edment & Karl H. Lincke
Member of Eurojuris España, international network of law firms