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Time To Cry For Argentina: Government Cracks Down On Foreign E-Commerce

argentinaIn a determined effort to keep Argentinean money within its own borders, the government recently issued new restrictions limiting citizens to two purchases of goods from foreign e-commerce web sites annually. Not only that, the new laws limit the value of foreign goods Argentineans may buy through the Internet at $25 per year.

Argentineans seeking to purchase more than the allotted amount must register with the government as importers. In doing so, they must comply with Argentina’s import regulations.

People who register as importers face a 50 percent import tax on anything they purchase, including shipping costs. Moreover, items exceeding the initial $25 limit will not be permitted to be delivered to the purchaser’s home, or even a post office box. Instead, the purchaser/importer will have to pick up the items from governmental customs facilities.

Moreover, upon pick-up, purchasers/importers will have to submit a sworn affidavit indicating what they bought. A printed receipt including a shipping tracking number will also be required before purchases can be removed from customs.

According to Ricardo Echegaray, the head of Argentina’s Administration of Public Revenue (AFIP), the goal of the new restrictions is to maintain the transparency of transactions in that nation. Meanwhile, it also seems the AFIP will soon release a list of goods that Argentineans can purchase from abroad without limitation.

The newly imposed regulations seem geared only towards the purchase of material goods from foreign countries, not services or electronic applications such as computer software. That would mean, for example, the purchase of hardback books from outside Argentina would be restricted although buying an e-book would not.

Argentinean thirst for foreign products has exploded in the last few years. It is estimated that nearly 1.5 million Argentineans bought items from foreign websites in 2013, nearly doubling the number of people who made similar purchases in 2012. In an attempt to introduce restrictions on these purchases, the government imposed a 35 percent import tax on transactions completed with foreign credit cards.

In 2013, more than half of all online shoppers in Argentina paid by credit card, while cash payments upon receipt and alternatives such as Western Union’s Pago Facil, which allows consumers to make cash payments for public services, are also popular options.

Tami Kamin Meyer is an Ohio attorney and writer. She may be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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