Electronic commerce is divided into two different types of activities: wholesale and retail sales , defined by art. 4, paragraph 1, letters a) and b), d. lgs. 114/98. When it comes to retail sale , electronic commerce, being carried out " through other communication systems ", falls within the " special forms of sale " ( Article 18 of Legislative Decree 114/98 ).

For the start of the online retail business, it must be communicated to the municipality * in which the merchant has his residence, if a natural person, or the registered office, indicating the possession of the requisites for access to the activity (listed 5 of Legislative Decree 114/98) and the product sector. The activity can be started after thirty days from receipt of the communication by the municipality (failure to answer is equivalent to acceptance of the application).

In the event of a joint operation of wholesale and retail trade, it is possible to use only one Internet site, provided that two distinct areas are assigned to the two types of trade, so as not to confuse the potential buyer. The ministry also takes the opportunity to point out that decree 114/98 does not apply to intermediaries , such as commercial agents and business agents in mediation and to occasional sales activities. The circular concludes by drawing attention to the obligation to respect, in Internet sales, the current legislation on consumer protection and, in particular, the rules of Legislative Decree no. lgs. January 15, 1992, n. 50, in the matter of contracts negotiated away from commercial premises and of the d. lgs. 22 May 1999, n. 185, concerning consumer protection in distance contracts.

CURIOSITY : Online sales are attributable to mail order sales and therefore without the obligation of an invoice (unless requested by the customer) as provided for in Article 22 of Presidential Decree 633 of 1972, and without the obligation to issue a receipt as provided for in Article 2 , letter oo), of the dpr 21 December 1996, n. 696. Many companies that sell online for practical reasons prefer to issue a transport document (transport document) and then record the daily totals. In the case of direct e-commerce (downloadable products) , however, this facility does not exist, it is therefore necessary to issue an invoice for each purchase or payment received. This is because the sale of directly usable intangible assets (music, software, etc.) are assimilated to the sales of services and do not currently benefit from any derogation regarding billing.

*) From March 2011 it is no longer necessary to submit paper documents to the commercial office of the municipality of residence of the commercial activity. The forms have been replaced by an electronic communication through the SUAP ( one-stop shop for productive activities ). Together with the SUAP communication, it is necessary to prepare the SCIA ( Certified start- up notification) both to start an online sales activity and to take over from another merchant. These practices are quite cumbersome, and it is good to use your accountant.

D. lgs. 114/98 (Bersani Decree) and LR 33/99

- What you need: communication to the Municipality of residence of the activity.
- Requirements: be of age in possession of the requisites referred to in art. 5 Legislative Decree 114/98.
- Timing: start of activity 30 days after the presentation of the communication.

Useful links:
- Single Office for Production Activities of the Municipality of Rome

Other regulatory areas to consider when starting an e-commerce site are the following: regulation of distance contracts, right of withdrawal, VAT, guarantees, conditions of sale, privacy.

Author: Stefania Tamberlani


Stefania Tamberlani commercial, organizational and administrative hub of Arte e Informatica deals with relationships with customers and suppliers. He has a high level of knowledge in the configuration and management of the Joomla and PrestaShop platforms, from the configuration of payment methods to couriers, passing through the management of the catalog and orders.

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