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28 March 2024

Hungarian webshops to offer delivery by Hungarian Post

From 28 March 2024, businesses operating in Hungary will be required to offer services by the state-owned enterprise Hungarian Post ("Magyar Posta") as a delivery option for consumers using their online stores. The text of the new provision is concise and has raised several questions.

It is clear that the new provision will only apply to B2C relationships, i.e. when the purchaser is a consumer. Every private individual (including self-employed person) who acts outside the scope of their profession or business activity is a consumer. The new regulation also only applies to products that are not excluded under Magyar Posta's general terms and conditions ("GTC"). For example, dangerous goods under the ADR are excluded as well as hot meals prepared for delivery on the same day, and all products that require continuous refrigeration throughout their delivery.

The Government Decree that introduced the new rule does not contain any official reasoning or explanation, nor has the government published a justification for its adoption. The Ministry of National Economy (the "Ministry") and Magyar Posta have both collected frequently asked questions on this topic and provided some practical answers. However, as their publications are not legally binding instruments, they can only serve as soft guidelines when interpreting the new rule. For example, the Ministry has stated that even though the scope of the Government Decree covers businesses selling goods in Hungary in general, the obligation only applies to deliveries dispatched from Hungary (e.g. from a Hungarian warehouse) and does not apply where the goods are dispatched from a state other than Hungary. This is due to the scope of Magyar Posta's GTC, which stipulate that it provides a delivery service only for items posted in Hungary.

Magyar Posta has also published a guide for businesses on how they may introduce Magyar Posta as a delivery option. Businesses basically have two options. The first is to register on Magyar Posta's website and, in accordance with Magyar Posta's GTC, use its services on an ad hoc basis. These services do not include the collection of the goods by Magyar Posta at the business's warehouse, but the business must take the goods to Magyar Posta's dispatch point first. The second option is to conclude an agreement with Magyar Posta, which means that the business probably needs to commit to a number of deliveries in exchange for Magyar Posta collecting the goods from the business's warehouse.

Businesses operating online stores are now wondering whether they are allowed to charge consumers a fee for the cost of delivering the goods to Magyar Posta's dispatch point, as the additional cost seems to be commercially justified. According to Magyar Posta, this is permissible if the consumer is informed in advance about the costs incurred by the business and the fees of Magyar Posta which are then passed on to the consumer.

Businesses are concerned about this significant regulatory change, due to the potential imposition of additional costs and the administrative burden associated with integrating the Magyar Posta delivery option into their online stories. For businesses, compliance with the new rule requires adjustments to logistics, which can also potentially affect pricing strategies.