Are phone number and email address mandatory in the imprint?

Imprint

Wondering if you need to include your phone number and email address in the imprint of your website, app or social media channel? Then you have come to the right place! Find out the answer to this frequently asked question in this post.

What does the law say about telephone number or. E-mail address?

As you may already know, the required content of the imprint is mainly – although not only! – according to § 5 Telemediengesetz (TMG).

Regarding telephone number and e-mail address, § 5 I No. 2 TMG:

Information that enables rapid electronic contact and direct communication with them, including the address of the electronic mail.

Let us note at this point: The telephone number is not literally listed as mandatory information in § 5 TMG. In contrast, the imprint obliges you to allow communication via electronic mail.

In addition, it follows from the wording "Information that enables rapid electronic contact and direct communication with them … including the address of the electronic mail" :

  • Fast electronic contact. The medium does not matter. However, the response to the request must not take more than 60 minutes.
  • Direct communication. Communication must be possible without the interposition of third parties.
  • Include the address of the electronic mail. Your customer needs to be able to communicate with you using electronic messages.

And what is now with the telephone number or. E-mail address?

We get the answer with regard to a very recently decided case by the ECJ (ruling v. 10.07.2019 – C-649/17 – Amazon). There it was about the global player Amazon. While local medium-sized companies always have at least a telephone number and e-mail address, this was apparently not the case with Amazon. It exists in the opinion of the court

no obligation on the part of the entrepreneur to provide a telephone or telefax line resp. an e-mail account Newly set up, so that consumers can contact him.

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The consequence for you

You must at least one the means of communication – e-mail address, fax or telephone number – as far as available. This means that you can use the respective connection or. Use the account not only for internal company purposes, but also to make it available to your customers.

If you have do not have all three means mentioned, it is sufficient if you instead provide alternative, comparable, Offer appropriate means of communication.

Comparable, alternative means of communication?

Examples that come to mind spontaneously as alternatives to e-mail and telephone number:

  • LiveChat
  • Videocall
  • WhatsApp
  • Contact form
  • platform’s own message service

Here it is also important that you keep these contact possibilities, immediately attainable and constantly available. So your customer must receive a response in a reasonable amount of time.

Conclusion

One of the information – e-mail address, telephone or fax number – is almost always mandatory. Because at least such a connection or account you will mostly also use for communication with customers.

If there is no such thing, i.e. you have neither a telephone number nor a fax number nor an e-mail address at which you also communicate with customers, then comparable alternatives allowed (chat, contact form etc.).

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