Regulatory changes: What eCommerce businesses need to know

This week we welcome, Martyn Noble, CEO of Hurricane Commerce, to author a guest blog continuing the theme in our recent Fintech Friday blogs of eCommerce. Martyn highlights the regulations to consider for cross-border trading.

Growing an eCommerce business can be hugely exciting and rewarding.

One of the best ways to really achieve scale is by embracing the world of cross-border trade.

But while the opportunities are vast, so is the complex web of global regulations which increasingly impact how successful you will be.

Much has already been written and spoken about Brexit.

January 1 brought not one major change, but two.

Brexit Day saw the UK now being treated as a ‘third country’ by the EU and vice versa in terms of the UK’s relationship with the bloc’s 27 members.

This has resulted in the need for much higher threshold of compliant shipment data for customs clearance including full product descriptions, HS6 codes, shipper and consignee details, accurate values and country of origin.

Alongside this, January 1 also saw the UK introduce significant changes to VAT, including the removal of the low value consignment relief (LVCR) on goods with a value of less than £15. As of July 1, 2021, goods with a value of up to €22 will no longer be VAT exempt when imported into the EU.

There is no question that it is those businesses involved in B2C cross-border trade which have been rocked the most by the January 1 changes.

With the impact of Brexit still reverberating, the next major date that should be in the diary of anyone serious about cross-border eCommerce, is March 15.

That’s the date when two major pieces of regulation come into force, namely the US STOP Act and the European Union’s Import Control System 2 (or ICS2 for short).


Hurricane is forecasting that several hundred million eCommerce shipments may be refused entry into the US because postal operators – and their retailer customers – have not met the required higher threshold for quality data including product descriptions and HS6 codes.

The STOP Act’s primary intention was to counteract the flood of illicit opioids into the United States and had been due to come into full effect on January 1, until it was moved to March to give US Customs and Border Protection more time to prepare for the regulations.

But the consequences of the Act will be much greater with the potential to seriously impact cross-border eCommerce traders.


The introduction of ICS2 across the European Union has the potential to cause similar shockwaves for cross-border traders.

As of March 15, postal operators will have to comply in the same way as commercial carriers and provide entry summary declarations on all parcels moving into or through the EU. In order to do so, there is an immediate need for complete and valid product descriptions.

For many retailers, postal operators and carriers, sorting out their processes and systems so that they can get back to frictionless cross-border eCommerce trade is non-negotiable – it is simply too important a part of their revenues and growth plans.

The cross-border eCommerce landscape has changed for good, but those businesses which get their data right will be able to meet these challenges and achieve scale – and, in turn, provide the support their customers require.

Those who don’t will face an unenviable combination of delays, returns, additional storage requirements and extra costs and, worst of all, reputational damage with consumers.

About The Author

Martyn Noble is co-founder and CEO of Hurricane Commerce, a cross-border eCommerce specialist. The company’s technology helps online retailers, marketplaces, postal operators and carriers achieve frictionless cross-border trade. Hurricane’s Aura and Zephyr solutions cover the key areas of product classification, data enhancement, duty & tax calculation and screening for prohibited & restricted goods and denied parties.

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