Distance Selling Regulations

The Distance Selling Regulations (DSRs) came into effect on 31st October 2000.

For those individuals or business’ wanting to trade via other mediums which exclude Face-to-Face, we have studied the Distance Selling Regulations and reproduced (with permission) some of the key points. The reason: Simply, to save most of you trawling through the forty-eight pages of the document – only to find that reading a couple (or three) of the pages would have been enough to give you an insight into what is – and what’s not acceptable practice of conducting business via the internet (or sms/text messaging service, telephone, faxing, interactive TV or any form of Mail Order!)



There is some information that you must give your consumers (customers) before they decide to buy from you (Regulation 7)

3.1 You must give your consumers certain information before they agree to buy from you. This is referred to as pre-contractual information which includes the following.

(i) Your identity – including sufficient detail for the consumer to be able to identify the business they are dealing with.
(ii) A description of the main characteristics of the goods or services you are offering.
(iii) The price of the goods or services you are offering, including all taxes & VAT.
(iv) Details of any delivery costs.
(v) Details of how payments can be made.
(vi) If payment is required in advance, you must supply your full geographic address*.
* This applies before goods or services are received by the consumer.
(vii) The arrangements for delivery or performance of the service, for example when consumers can expect delivery of the goods or the service to start. The contract should be performed within 30 days unless the parties agree to a different period.  (There is more information at paragraph 3.16 of the download – under ‘Carrying out the contract’.)
(viii) Information about your consumers’ right to cancel, where applicable – see paragraphs 3.22 to 3.36 of the download – under ‘Cancellation rights’.
(ix) If consumers have to use a premium-rate phone number, you must specify the cost of the call (including taxes) before any charges are incurred for the phone call. This may be the cost of the call per minute (including VAT) or an indication of the likely cost of the call (including VAT). You should also advise your consumers that the cost of the call may differ from that quoted, depending on their network provider.
(x) For how long the price or the offer remains valid.
(xi) The minimum duration of the contract where goods or services are to be provided permanently or recurrently and
(xii) That you will pay the cost of your consumers returning any products that you supply as substitutes because the goods or services originally ordered are not available.


The time limits for cancellation are as follows.

For Goods: Provided you give your consumer the required written information no later than the time the goods are delivered, their cancellation rights end seven working days after the day on which they received the goods.

If you do not give your consumer the required written information by the time the goods are delivered, but do so within three months from the day after the day the consumer receives the goods, the cancellation rights will end after seven working days from the day after the day on which the consumer received the required written information, or

if you do not give the required written information at all (or give it after the three month period mentioned above), the consumer’s cancellation rights will end after three months and seven working days from the day after the day the consumer received the goods.

For Services: If you give your consumer the required written information on or before the day the contract is concluded, their cancellation rights will last for seven working days, counting from the day after the contract was concluded, or if the required written information is provided after the contract is concluded but within three months (beginning the day after the contract was concluded), cancellation rights will last for seven working days after the information is received.

The effective date for cancellations under the DSRs is the date on which the consumer gives notice of cancellation to you. This ensures that the consumer can take advantage of the full cancellation period provided for in the DSRs.


The DSRs say that a notice of cancellation will be properly given if the consumer gives notice in one of the following ways:

By leaving a notice addressed to you at your last address known to the consumer, in which case notice is said to have been given on the day on which it was left at your address

By posting the notice to you at the address last known to the consumer, in which case notice is said to have been given on the day it was posted, or by faxing or emailing the notice to you on the last fax number or email address known to the consumer, in which case notice is said to have been given on the day it was sent.

3.29 You may ask your consumers to keep some evidence of having given you the cancellation notice, such as a certificate of posting or confirmation of fax transmission, but you cannot insist on this.


3.35 Where the DSRs give consumers rights to cancel, this right is unconditional. If consumers cancel before they have received the goods you must refund the total price of the goods, including any delivery charges. Consumers who have cancelled under the DSRs may refuse to accept delivery of the goods. Refusal in such a situation cannot be treated as a breach of contract.
3.36 Where goods are lost in transit from you to the consumer you will need to either send new goods or offer the consumer a full refund, including delivery charges. See paragraph 3.20 for more information.

Contracts to which the Distance Selling Regulations (DSRs) do not apply (Regulation 5)

Ref: 2.11 The DSRs do not apply to the following contracts.

Contracts for the sale of land, that is the sale of freehold or leasehold interests. The DSRs do, however, apply to short term tenancy or leasehold agreements (rental agreements) provided the contract is between a business and a consumer and has been concluded by distance means.

Contracts for the construction of a building where the contract also provides for a sale or other transfer of an interest in the land on which the building is constructed. However, the DSRs do apply where a consumer already has rights over the land and subsequently enters into a distance contract with a builder to construct a building on the land.

Contracts relating to financial services to consumers. However, these services are likely to be subject to the information giving and cancellation provisions contained in the Financial Services (Distance Marketing) Regulations 2004 (SI: 2095 2004) (FSDMR) and, where relevant, the Consumer Credit Act 1974 (CCA).

Conditional sales* and contracts for hire purchase** (which are covered by the FSDMR and the CCA). However contracts for hire services, for example the hire of electrical items or clothing, are covered by the DSRs.

* A conditional sale is where a consumer becomes bound to purchase the goods from the outset, but they do not own the goods until they have fulfilled all the conditions of the contract (usually paid all the instalments).

** Hire Purchase is hiring of goods with an option for consumers to purchase at the end if they want to.

Products bought from vending machines (for example bars of chocolate or cans of drink) or automated commercial premises such as pictures taken by automated photo booths.

Contracts concluded with a telecommunications operator in respect of a telephone call from a public pay phone.

Products and services you sell to other businesses (these are business-to-business contracts).

Auction sales, including online and interactive TV auctions. However, some activities described as auctions may not necessarily result in sales at auction, so will not fall within this exemption. This will depend on exactly when and how the sale occurs. (For further information see paragraph 2.16.)


 To view or download a copy of the complete Distance Selling Regulations Giude for Business – please click here


Feel free to visit the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) website for clarification and to review any updates to
the Distance Selling Regulations (DSRs) Guide for Business, or telephone them on 0845 722 4499.