"Warranty" vs. "Guarantee" in Europe

"Warranty" vs. "Guarantee" in Europe

The European union countries have some common law that they all obey. Warranty and guarantee are two different concepts that have specific terms among these countries. Let's go deeper and find out about warranties and guarantees regulations in Europe.


The legal guarantee is the legal basis of directive 1999/44/EC. (a minimum harmonization directive that considers pre-existing rules in the several Member States providing a higher level of protection for consumers about the non-conformity of goods).

  • The legal guarantee is mandatory and applies EU-wide for 2 years beginning from the date you receive the goods.
  • The legal guarantee is valid for a period of two years throughout the EU. But there are certain conditions.However, the crucial period is the 6 months after you bought your product.
  • In the case of used goods, the guarantee claims may not be less than 1 year.
  • This is a service that dealers or manufacturers can offer voluntarily.
  • Each country is free to set conditions of application adapted to its pre-existing rules or ideology. Thus, the duration of the guarantee and the terms for invoking it can differ from one country to another.

The main differences in the application of Directive 1999/44/EC in the various EU between the Member States, Iceland, and Norway concern:

  • The direct liability of the seller
  • The duration of the legal guarantee
  • Deadline for the consumer to notify the seller of a defect or non-conformity
  • The period of the legal guarantee after repair or replacement
  • The burden of proof of the existence of a defect
  • Possibility for the seller to claim compensation for the time during which the consumer used the item before it was found to be faulty

Note: According to the pieces of evidence, The Directive 1999/44/EC has been repealed based on Directive (EU) 2019/771 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 20 May 2019. However, unlike the initial proposal, the adopted version of the Directive does not provide a legislative system of complete harmonization. Still, it allows Member states to implement more enhanced forms of consumer protection in areas expressly stated in the Directive.


  • The duration of commercial warranties in EU member States is usually between 1 and 5 years and is 2 years in most cases.
  • More expensive items usually have a more extended warranty which often applies to specific parts of the product.
  • In some Member States, warranties are to be offered against payment. (For warranties offered against payment, the costs vary considerably and, especially given the duration of the contract and depreciation in value, the benefit of a commercial warranty varies considerably as well)
  • In some, they must be offered free of charge.
  • For warranties offered against payment, the costs vary considerably, especially given the duration of the Contract and depreciation


Note: Especially given the duration of the contract and depreciation, commercial warranty varies considerably as well between some member states. For example: In Austria, the statutory warranty period is 2 years for movable property (vehicles, electronic devices) and 3 years for immovable property (land, buildings). If an error occurs within the first 6 months after handover, it is assumed that the defect already existed at the time of handover. The buyer is entitled to a warranty.

Particular Focus: Article 20 of Directive 2006/123/EC of 12 December 2006 on services in the Internal Market prohibits discrimination based on nationality or place of residence in EU unless justified by objective reasons. As such, each situation must be analyzed on a case-by-case basis. So, sellers and consumers should be aware of geographical restrictions and conditions of commercial warranty in a cross-border context.

Some of the content in this section is taken from here.

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