Clothing and Textiles Regulations in Australia and New Zealand: An Overview

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Planning to import and sell clothing or textiles in Australia and New Zealand? Keep reading, and learn what you must know about restricted chemicals, labeling requirements, lab testing and more.


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Chemicals and Heavy Metals Regulations

During the process of textile manufacturing, hundreds of chemicals are used in the textile industry. It is important to ensure that your products are not violating the substance regulations in Australia and New Zealand.

Banned Chemicals and Heavy Metals

Some chemicals are considered as too dangerous for any use and have been banned by ACCC.
For example:

  • Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs)
  • Asbestos

On the other hand, many hazardous chemicals can still be used if appropriate controls are in place. For textile products, the following chemical must not reach a high level due to the harm to humans.

  • Formaldehyde
  • Azo dyes

Azo dyes

Note that AZO dyes are banned in manufacturing in Australia, but can in some cases be contained in clothing and textiles that are imported from overseas. At the moment there are no laws directly prohibiting the sale of imported products with AZO dyes.

Product Recalls

Although Australia’s chemical regulation in the textile product might not be strict when comparing to the United States or the EU countries, the ACCC regularly checks products sold in Australia for chemicals that may be of concern.

For example, ACCC’s’s have prompted recalls of four pairs of jeans and one pillowslip for having unacceptable concentrations of certain ‘azo’ dyes containing an unacceptable concentration of aromatic amines in 2014.

Although some chemicals are not banned for textiles used in Australia, if the ACCC identifies safety concerns, it can recommend suppliers recall the unsafe goods and the Australian Consumer Law can conduct a force-recall.

australia textiles label

Textiles Labeling

For textile products, ACCC provided a mandatory standard that specifies the labeling requirements for certain textile products. The following categories of products are covered in this regulation.

  • Clothing
  • Household textiles
  • Furnishings
  • Piece goods made from textiles
  • Plastic coated fabrics
  • Suede skins
  • Leathers
  • Furs

a. Fiber Composition

There is no mandatory regulation for fiber content labeling in Australia for now. However, the best practice is to show the percentage of each fiber and list them on the label. Here we listed some common textile fibers and its attribute for reference.

  • Silk – Smooth fabric finish with a shiny surface
  • Wool – Warmth
  • Cotton – Lightweight and absorbent
  • Nylon – Durable, strong, lightweight and dries quickly
  • Polyester – Durable, strong, lightweight and dries quickly
  • Cashmere wool – Softness

b. Placement

There is no mandatory standard for the placement of labels in textile products. However, for garment, the best practice is to attach the label near the inside center of the neck. It is important to keep your label conspicuous and accessible.

c. Sizes

There are currently no mandatory standards for men’s and women’s clothing sizing. However, there are standards for reference as listed below:

1. AS 1344-1997: Size coding scheme for women’s clothing – Underwear, outerwear, and foundation garments

2. AS 1954-1976: Size designation scheme for men’s clothing (including multiple fitting outerwear and industrial wear)

3. AS 1182-1997: Size coding scheme for infants’ and children’s clothing – Underwear and outerwear

d. Care Instructions

Care instructions must be:

  • Permanently attached to articles
  • Written in English
  • Legible
  • Appropriate and adequate for the care of the article so an article is not damaged when the user follows these instructions.

Also, adequate care instructions must include information on:

  • General care and warnings
  • Washing
  • Drying
  • Ironing
  • Dry-cleaning

e. Non-Compliance Penalties

Violation of the mandatory standard is an offense under the ACL. Maximum fines for non-compliance can be $500 000 for individuals. Therefore, you may wish to provide clear care instructions to avoid damage and maximize the useful life of clothing.

f. Country of Origin

Country of Origin requirements varies depending on whether the product is made wholly or partially in Australia or is imported. Under the guidelines provided by ACCC, companies do not have to state where goods are from, but if they do then the claims must be accurate.

Moreover, when you label that your products are “Made in Australia”, the following components must be followed:

1. The goods must have been substantially transformed in the country claimed to be the origin.

2. 50 percent or more of the costs of production must have been carried out in that country.

On the other hand, if you label that your products are “Product of Australia”, you will need to follow the criteria as below:

1. The country of the claim must be the country of origin of each significant component of the goods

2. All, or virtually all, processes involved in the production or manufacture must have happened in that country.

g. Language

Under the mandatory standard by ACCC, the labeling of textile must be written legibly in English and readily accessible to consumers at the time.

Children’s Clothing Regulations

It is an offense to supply children’s clothing that does not comply with mandatory standards.

The detailed mandatory requirements for children’s nightwear can be found here.

In general, children’s Clothing covers items in sizes 00–14. Including

  • Nightdresses and nightshirts
  • Dressing gowns and bathrobes
  • Loose boxer shorts
  • All-in-ones
  • Infant sleep bags

a. Flammability

There is a mandatory requirement for certain children’s garments sized 00–14. It specifies four categories for labeling children’s nightclothes, depending on the degree of fire protection the garment provides.

the garments must be tested to standard, and the fire hazard information label must be permanently affixed on the product. If it does not meet any of the four categories’ criteria, it cannot be sold in Australia.

b. Textile Testing

The mandatory standard specifies testing to ensure that nightwear for children meets requirements for fire hazards. You will need to organize the testing through specialist laboratories.

Testing requirements include:

1. Fabric type: The type of fabric used in nightwear garments for children may require testing to establish the appropriate fire hazard category.

2. Fabric trims: Fabric trims need to meet certain requirements under the different fire hazard categories.

Government Bodies

Australian Competition & Consumer Commission (ACCC)

ACCC is an independent authority of the Australian government. ACCC regulated many categories of products such as electronics, transport, pharmacy, and clothing and accessories regarding product safety.

For example, they have provided the supplier guide for care labeling for clothing and textile products. Although they don’t have a specific regulation to textile substances, they have begun testing some public concerned substance in textile products such as formaldehyde and azo dyes.

National Industrial Chemicals Notification and Assessment Scheme (NICNAS)

NICNAS is the Australian government’s regulatory body for industrial chemicals. It is also responsible for the risk assessment and regulation of industrial chemicals. Notice that NICNAS does not regulate the use or disposal of chemicals. Instead, NICNAS cooperate with ACCC in order to improve product safety.

Frequenty asked questions

What is covered by Australian standards for clothing?

Generally speaking, Australian standards for clothing covers the following aspects:

1. Chemical and heavy metal regulations, with the goal of restrict or forbid specific substances;

2. Labeling, including fiber composition, placement, size, care labeling, country of origin, and language;

3. Specific regulations might apply to Children’s clothing.

What information is required by Australian law to be on care labels?

According to the mandatory standard based on the Australian/New Zealand Standard (AS/NZS) 1957:1998, Textiles – Care labeling, new clothing and textiles must comply with the following:

  • Care labeling must be permanently attached to articles;
  • They must be written in legible English language;
  • Care instruction must be appropriate for the care of the article so that an article is not damaged when the user follows the instructions;
  • Adequate care instructions must include general care info and warnings, washing, drying, ironing and dry-cleaning instructions;
  • More information might be needed, according to the item.

What products are exempted from Australian care labeling regulations?

Here a non-comprehensive list of products that are exempted by the regulation:

  • Second hand goods;
  • Drapery such as floor cloths, dish cloths and similar items;
  • Furnishing such as window blinds, light fittings and similar items;
  • Jute products;
  • Miscellaneous goods such as cords, umbrellas and others
  • (USA & EU)


    • Request a free 30-minute call with Ivan Malloci to learn how we can help you with:
    • Find product requirements
    • Certification and labeling
    • Lab testing


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    Sources: Our articles are written in part based on publicly available information, and our own practical experience relating to product compliance. These are some of the primary sources we use:

  • 16 Responses to “Clothing and Textiles Regulations in Australia and New Zealand: An Overview

    1. Adam Wells at 10:04 am

      G’day folks,
      I’m concerned about the safety of clothing being purchased from sites such as Ali-express, Temu etc. I’m seeing a lot of clothing for children being given as gifts or just purchased by parents trying to save a few extra dollars.

      I’m assuming as the clothes aren’t being imported by registered Australian importers they are not being monitored or tested randomly by the ACCC and as such could be potentially harmful perhaps even deadly with prolonged exposure.

      Is there any organisation or government body currently responsible to ensure these products are safe or at least to inform Australian consumers of the risks if any?

      Any information regarding this subject would be greatly appreciated as the very thought that the pretty little dress or nightie worn by my Granddaughter, could be killing her, frankly terrifies me.


    2. Brian at 1:05 pm

      Hi, I want to import pre-owned clothing from other countries to sell it in Australia. Is it possible to sell it in Australia? The condition of the clothes is 8+/10 and I also wash and cleaning before importing to Aus

    3. deb at 8:11 am

      not a shop – customer noticing widespread difference. i thought womens underwear had to have a cotton liner for hygiene reasons. several brands available locally do not have cotton gusset, and i can’t find the regulations, so is it only a recommendation?

    4. Niamh at 6:23 pm

      Hi there

      I’m looking at selling handmade clothing constructed from vintage bed sheets and fabric. Do I need to attach a permanent care label to the actual garment? Thanks.


    5. David Wan at 1:05 pm

      Can spare button cover the care instruction on care label?

      1. Fredrik Gronkvist at 9:55 am

        Hi David,

        Labels need to be easy to find and read. Doing so would probably be risky.

    6. Radmila Petricevic at 7:30 pm

      Hello. My question is ; When you sell underwear in Australia do the panties have to have the transparent hygiene label care tape?

    7. Amelia at 7:18 pm

      Hi, I’m trying to find out if imported GOTS certified clothing is sprayed with biocides or Pesticides prior to entering Australia despite being exempt from certain harmful chemicals. Is this mandatory at customs?

      1. Zoe at 8:30 pm

        We’re you able to get an answer to this? Thanks

      2. Mina at 9:43 am

        A lot of it is I believe. But I know that there is a Victorian based business who’s products are never exposed to any such chemicals, in any country, at any point during the manufacturing process.
        Here is link:

    8. Danielle Vague at 11:21 am

      manufacturing outdoor shirts importing from china – i have been assured they are UPF50+ but do not have the accredited Aus/NZ certificate – can i note on garment UPF50+?

    9. Shirley at 6:55 pm

      Hi , I am a designer from Australia currently in the process of developing a range of knitwear in Peru. Can I ship production garments from Peru to Australia without any garment labels.
      Labels would be attached in Australia prior to sale? I appreciate your help. Thank you. Shirley.

      1. Fredrik Gronkvist at 7:21 pm

        Hi Shirley,

        That is normally okay in most countries but I am not sure if this is accepted in Australia.

        Why do you intend to label the products in Australia and not in Peru?

    10. lisa yeates at 7:32 am

      are their standards for how a garment is manufactured in Australia. how the seams are assembled etc

      1. Fredrik Gronkvist at 6:24 pm

        Hi Lisa,

        You can find that here:

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