European Union VAT Changes

I'm getting a lot of mileage for my Rude pin. Especially when it comes to shipping and VAT changes that negatively impact small businesses like my own and many others around the world. But, let's talk about the EU's VAT changes and what that means for my shop and all my customers based EU countries.

What happened?
As of July 1st, all countries in the EU have changed some of the rules regarding how they charge and handle VAT. As a result, small businesses that ship items to customers in EU countries will be expected to do some additional work, and customers of these small businesses outside of the EU will see some increase in the cost of importing goods from international sellers.

Who is affected by these changes?
These changes are only for current EU countries and excludes the United Kingdom, which officially left the EU earlier this year. These changes also do not affect any other country in Europe who is not a part of the European Union. In short, only customers who live in these countries are affected: 

Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czechia, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania , Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, and Sweden.

What changed with the EU's VAT rules? 
If you live in one of the above EU countries, you can still purchase items on my website shop as well as my Etsy shop just as you have done before. Most of the changes are things I would have to handle, such as including an HS Code on the customs form.

The one major difference for customers is the tax rate and cost of importing goods from international sellers. If you purchase from my Etsy shop, Etsy will collect the taxes upfront when you check out. If you purchase from my website shop, the taxes will be assessed by your country's customs authority and charged when the item reaches your region. The VAT and assessment fees for each EU country varies. The assessment fees can be anywhere from $8-$12 depending on the country, so it can get fairly expensive in addition to the VAT charge.

Which shop is better for me to purchase from as a EU resident?
While the option to purchase from my website shop remains open to EU residents, in most cases, you may save some money on taxes and customs fees purchasing from my Etsy shop. There are a couple of pros and cons for each shop when it comes to these VAT rule changes. I've made a chart of them below for you so you can make a more informed choice.

 Etsy Shop Website Shop
  • You pay VAT upfront
  • No customs assessment fee
  • Will spend less in customs fee overall
  • Little to no customs wait


  • Smaller selection of products
  • Have to reach out to me to create custom listing for website-only products
  • Transit times for shipping are slower
  • Package tracking code doesn't work predictably


  • Wider selection of items and products available
  • No need to contact me for custom listings if a product isn't available on my Etsy shop
  • Transit times for shipping are faster
  • Tracking code works for most EU countries


  • VAT will be assessed by your country's customs authority
  • Customs assessment fee will be applied and can be expensive
  • Will have to wait for customs to assess your parcel



Why can't your website shop collect VAT like your Etsy shop?
Unfortunately, small businesses cannot afford the administrative burden of registering for and remitting VAT for the EU. In some ways, there are more hurdles for a small business to become VAT registered for the EU than even the UK. For example, international businesses that don't have a presence in the EU need an EU intermediary. The vast majority of small businesses cannot afford to retrain an intermediary.

Can you mark my purchase as a gift to avoid this whole mess?
I mark all purchases as commercially sold items. To do otherwise is against the law.

Additional Resources

The following links might help you with these changes whether you're a customer or a small business owner.

Shopify EU VAT Changes Blog

SimplyVAT IOSS Scheme FAQ

2021 eCommerce EU VAT Reboot Guide

PirateShip VAT Requirements for EU