Legal Policies for Online Sales (Selling)

While there's a lot to learn about international selling, the good news is that your company's legal agreements (Privacy Policy, Terms and Conditions, Shipping Policy, etc.) won't have to be drastically adapted to all of the countries where you sell or ship your products.

For example, if you're headquartered in the United States you're likely already selling to customers in most, if not all, of the 50 states. Sometimes Alaska and Hawaii are excluded, with shipping only available to the contiguous 48 states.


For example, let's look at a Shipping section of a Terms and Conditions agreement for a company that ships internationally.

Jack Spade New York

Jack Spade New York, an iconic international fashion brand, sells well beyond New York state. In its list of legal agreements, the Shipping section has a separate link for an International Shipping Policy:

Jack Spade New York: International Shipping seaprate link

Their International Shipping Policy is part of the full Shipping Policy page, and addresses issues like duties, taxes and carrier's collection fees, local regulations prohibiting shipping to some locations, and the transfer of risk at the border from the company to the consumer.

Screenshot of Jack Spade New York: International Shipping Policy

A separate table for shipping rates is also included, listing each country Jack Spade ships to, and at what cost:

Jack Spade New York: International Shipping Rates

Notice how the timezone information (EST) and form of currency (USD) is included on this page by Jack Spade so international customers can know more information.

Fox Shop

Logo of Fox Shop

Fox Shop has an International Shipping section of its Terms and Conditions.

Here is where international customers can find information about order turnaround and delivery time, potential duties, taxes and other fees that come along with international shipments, as well as restrictions, limitations and requirements for international addresses.

Shipping costs aren't set at a flat rate per country, but rather are set to "vary by the products ordered and the shipping destination." Users are informed that these shipping costs will be "calculated during the checkout process."

Screenshot of Fox Shop International Shipping Terms & Conditions

The format of the page isn't as important as conveying all the important information is.

East Dane

Logo of East Dane

Notice how customs and duties are defined as being "import fees" and the "International Shipping Terms and Conditions" page is linked to the "International" tab here.

This is a very clear and streamlined way of presenting this information to customers, while showing them where to find the more thorough, detailed Terms and Conditions for international shipping.

Topics such as refusing payments, import fee deposits and other issues that may arise with international shipping are covered here:

East Dane: International Shipping Terms & Conditions


Returns are usually addressed in the same policy where shipping is addressed, especially for international sales.

East Dane

East Dane includes a Returns section underneath its US shipping tab:

Returns Section in East Dane Shipping Policy

When expanded, it includes all the necessary and important information for how customers in the US can make returns:

The expanded Returns section from East Dane Shipping Policy

For international customers, there's a similar tab underneath the Shipping information titled "Online Returns (International Only)":

International Only Returns in East Dane Shipping Policy

When expanded, international users are informed of how to they can make a return, as well as how much it will cost to return an item from specific countries:

The expanded International Only Returns in East Dane Shipping Policy

Some companies choose not to accept international returns because of the complexity of them when it comes to tariffs, taxes, associated fees, etc.

If your company ships internationally but wants to make those sales final, you can include this in your Return Policy.

Fox Shop

Fox Shop includes a banner on its homepage that lets shoppers quickly know what forms of payment are accepted:

The Payment Methods accepted banner from Fox Shop

There's also a very straightforward methods of payment information page that makes it clear that Fox Shop accepts "all major credit cards" and "PayPal." Checks and money orders are not accepted.

Fox Show: What methods of payment do you accept?

Your Payments information doesn't have to be complex or long. Remember, most credit card companies and payment processing companies are now set up to be global in nature and can handle your needs regarding international payments.


Some international businesses have more complex arbitration clauses that cover a range of location possibilities.

For example, Air Distribution's Conditions of Sale covers three common situations for arbitration:

  • If the parties are US-based,
  • If neither of the parties is Chinese and the seller isn't a US entity, and
  • If one of the parties is Chinese

In the first case, with US-based parties, the US laws of Wisconsin are to apply to arbitration. If either of the parties is Chinese, Chinese laws will govern. In the middle event that there are no Chinese parties and the seller isn't a US entity, the laws and location of New York, New York are to apply, as authorized by the International Centre for Dispute Resolution (ICDR).

Arbitration Rules from Air Distribution Conditions of Sales agreement

International arbitration can get complex, and it's best to defer to an attorney with experience in this area if you're selling items globally that carry a high potential risk of associated litigation.

While it's very common these days to have businesses selling globally, remember that your customers around the world will all want the same basic safeguards and information from you to feel safe and secure in their transactions.