Uruguayan Customs Rein in Online Sales with Credit-Card Requirement

EspañolThe Uruguayan National Customs Directorate has announced that, from 2015, they will be require an international credit card for online purchases.

Para realizar compras por internet desde Uruguay será necesario poseer una tarjeta de crédito internacional
An interntional credit card will be required in order to purchase goods online.  (Sean MacEntee)

This will outlaw the practice of local couriers providing customers with an alternative way to pay. At present, a courier may use his own international credit card if the buyer does not have one, or would rather not use his. The courier then simply pays for the goods and charges the customer in some other way.

Furthermore, families using the same credit card to purchase online won’t be allowed to continue this practice. Children under 18 years old will be prohibited entirely from making purchases, since that is the minimum age to obtain a credit card.

This is one of a new set of measures that amp up restrictions on foreign purchases by Uruguayans. They can only make five purchases of up to US$200 per person per year, including the value of the purchase and the courier’s costs.

The protectionist tactic stems from demands by local business leaders, who allege that online competition is “unfair.”

Gusavo Licandro, vicepresident of the National Chamber of Commerce (CNC), has said that online sales create an uneven playing field with brick-and-mortar stores, due to the high tax burden they must comply with.

“It does not mean more competition; it is unhealthy competition for those who are paying taxes to finance public spending, social policies, education, and the wages of the public servants,” he affirmed.

Licandro did point out, though, that in order to increase the nation’s competitiveness, those in power would need to “cut public spending” and “lower taxes and social security contributions.” He explained that “lower taxes means more incentives to avoid shopping online.”

The clamor from some sectors for greater regulation of online sales has come after a steady increase in their volume. Since 2012, the law has exempted most online purchases from sales taxes.

Enrique Canon, head of the Uruguayan customs, acknowledged that there is a motive for businesses to restrict online purchases, but the law should still also address the buyers’ interests: “[online shopping] is a legitimate tool that can be used for good, to favor the consumer and add competition in some markets.”

Source: El País.

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