Sales Promotion

Sales promotion is regulated in The Netherlands by the Civil Code (the Act 397of 25 September 2008 brought the Civil Code and other Acts into line with the Directive concerning unfair business-to consumer commercial practices in the internal market).

A trader shall be deemed to be acting unlawfully if he engages in an unfair commercial practice towards a consumer.

A commercial practice shall be considered unfair if information is provided which is factually untrue or which misleads the average consumer or may mislead them, whether or not by way of the general presentation of the information, with regard to the price or the way it is calculated, or the existence of a special price, which leads or may lead the average consumer to make a decision on a purchase that he would otherwise not have made.


The following sales promotion commercial practices shall be deemed misleading under any circumstance:

  • Bait advertising: offering products for sale at a particular price without stating that there is a reasonable suspicion that it will be impossible to deliver the said products or equivalent at the price stated, or have them delivered by another supplier, for a period and in a quantity which, taking into account the product, the extent of the advertising and the price offered, are reasonable;
  • In the case of special offers: falsely claiming that the product is available only for a very limited period or that it will be available under special conditions only for a very limited period in order to persuade the consumer to make an immediate decision and deprive him of the opportunity or sufficient time to make an informed decision;
  • In the case of competition or prize promotion: claiming that a competition is being organised or prizes are being offered without actually awarding the said prizes or a reasonable alternative;
  • In the case of free products: describing a product as free, for nothing, free-of-charge etc. if the consumer has to pay an amount other than the unavoidable costs of responding to the offer, picking up the product or having it delivered.


An aggressive sales promotion commercial practice under any circumstance is:

  • In the case of prize competition: falsely creating the impression that the consumer has already won a prize or will win one or, by performing a particular action, will win one or receive another similar benefit if, in reality there is no prize or similar benefit; or being considered for the prize or similar benefit is dependent on the consumer paying an amount or bearing other costs.


The Dutch Advertising Code lays down, inter alia that:

  • Dishonest advertising comprises the designation of a product, service or lottery ticket as free or as gift:
  • without specifying in the offer that the participant only gets such a product, service or lottery ticket for free if he decides to purchase it; and/or
  • if its value has been discounted in the sum to be paid by the participant for the compulsory purchase; and/or
  • if it is not or not sufficiently clear that a free lottery ticket or participation automatically converts into paid participation.
  • With the exception of tasting activities in licensed shops and sampling during catering industry promotions, advertising is prohibited in which alcoholic beverages are supplied to private consumers free of charge or for less than half of the regular sales price of the alcoholic beverage by a member of the industry or with the active participation of a member of the industry.

During catering industry promotions, alcoholic beverages may not be offered free of charge.

Likewise, during catering industry promotions, selling alcoholic beverages for less than half of their regular sales price is prohibited. In addition, no more than one beverage may be offered to each client at a discount.


Please visit:

  • 397 Wet van 25 September 2008 (English translation) (2018 amendments English translation)

  • The Dutch Advertising Code (Nederlandse Reclame Code)