Electronic Commerce


Electronic commerce can be defined as business transactions taking place through the electronic transmission of data over communication networks such as the Internet. It is based on the electronic processing and transmission of data, including text, sound and video. It encompasses many diverse activities including electronic trading of goods and services, online delivery of digital content, electronic fund transfers, electronic bills of lading, commercial auctions, design and engineering, sourcing, public procurement, direct consumer marketing and after-sales services.

When establishing the treatment of imported supplies for customs duty purposes a distinction need to be drawn between goods ordered electronically but delivered by traditional means and direct on-online deliveries. Members of the WTO have agreed not to impose customs duties on international electronic transactions, and in line with this agreement goods ordered and supplied electronically such as software and books will continue to be treated as ‘services’ and as such be free of import duties, but remain liable to VAT. Goods ordered electronically but delivered physically continue to attract the rate of duty appropriate to that commodity.

How can we help?

We can provide assistance with the integration of simplified and paperless customs procedures – maximising the use of commercial information to trigger electronic customs declarations to Customs. We can provide clients with practical solutions to fast track them through the regulatory minefield as they roll-out their e-commerce strategies to ensure that inter alia:

  • the evolving strategy takes full account of customs consequences;
  • potential customs benefits are figured into the decisions on alternative structures;
  • the effect on customs compliance obligations is known;
  • the regulatory environment is observed and obstacles to change identified;
  • double duty hits are avoided
  • returned goods reliefs are fully utilised; and
  • automated customs returns systems are set-up.