Planning to import and sell bags in the European Union? In this guide, you can learn about the essentials of bags regulations, including labeling, certification, testing requirements and other documents.
- Textile bags
- Leather bags
REACH is an EU regulation that restricts chemicals, heavy metals, and pollutants in all consumer products sold in the European Union, including bags. It was firstly executed in 2007 among all the EU member states. Currently, bag products exported to the EU are subjected to this regulation.
Thus, importers must be acquainted with the compositions in bag product materials and be cautious about whether it contains excessive amounts of restricted substances.
Here are a few examples of regulated substances:
- AZO dyes
REACH is applicable to all materials, including textiles, leather, nylon, polyester, EVA and other materials used to manufacture bags.
Substances of Very High Concern (SVHC)
EU updates the REACH annually to ensure its comprehensiveness and authoritativeness. However, it is not the responsibility of the importers to keep track of the list of toxic substances, even if importers have to deal with the strict REACH regulation.
Therefore, importers simply need to send their bag product samples to third-party testing companies and have them deal with the relevant chemical tests.
Having your bag products sent to a third-party lab testing company for REACH compliant examination before selling your products in the European market is necessary.
We recommend to go through with your supplier before mass production and make sure it understands the implications of REACH. There are various companies offering REACH testing, including SGS, Bureau Veritas, QIMA, and TUV.
Here are some companies offering REACH compliance testing:
- Bureau Veritas
You can find more companies in this guide.
Usually, third-party lab testing companies offer a range of chemicals and heavy metals testing services. Normally, the REACH testing cost ranges from $200 to unlimited depending on the quantities, materials, and colors.
Some leather materials, textiles, plastic, and metal parts may contain heavy metals and chemicals above the limits. This applies to metal parts (e.g. zippers and buttons) coatings, dyes, paints and artificial leather (e.g. PU leather).
You can learn more about REACH lab testing in this guide.
Textile Bags Labeling Requirements
Every bag product, for instance, handbags or backpacks or any other clothing product containing at least 80% of textile fibers by weight requires a label indicating the fiber composition, 100% Cotton or 100% Polyester, permanently attached to the garment or printed on it. A sticker is not sufficient.
- Care labels (Recommended)
- Size (Recommended)
- Country of origin
Note: We recommend you to do thorough research before ordering your care labels since care label composition rules vary from country to country among the EU.
Communicate with your supplier and clarify all the required manufacturing details is very important. In order to simplify the process and for future reference, we recommend you to create a textile label file and submit it to your manufacturer before starting mass production. We recommend to use .ai or .eps formats.
In addition to the label file, you must also provide the following information to your supplier:
- Label dimensions
We also recommend that your care label is included in your design drawings. This decreases the risk of your supplier misunderstanding your bag labeling requirements.
Leather Bags Regulations
At the time of writing, there are no EU-level leather labeling requirements. That said, leather bag importers and manufacturers cannot make false claims about the leather type or quality, regardless of whether it concerns authentic or artificial leather products. There are also national leather labeling rules in certain EU member countries.
Note: REACH is applicable to all materials, including leather.
General Product Safety Directive (GPSD)
The General Product Safety Directive (GPSD) provides basic safety standards for all products sold in the EU, even those that are not covered by specific or mandatory EN standards. This means it applies to bag products as well.
The importer is responsible for vouching for the GPSD compliance of the product after assessing its safety, considering all possible design flaws or risks to the consumer, including any young children or infants. That said, handbags, backpacks and related goods are generally not considered as ‘high-risk products’.
The above process should be fully documented in a risk assessment document.
Optionally, the importer can contract with a third-party safety inspection company to perform this assessment.
Even if they might not be mandatory, EN standards can provide useful guidelines for the design of safe-to-use products and material quality.
The testing methodologies described in the EN standards constitute best practices for demonstrating that a product is as safe as possible.
Note: The General Product Safety Directive (GPSD) requires that all products imported and sold in the European Union are safe for the consumer. This is the case even if no mandatory product-specific standards, directives or other regulations apply. It’s therefore in your interest to follow relevant EN standards when designing and manufacturing products.
Examples of bags EN standards
Here are some EN standards that may be useful for bag importers and manufacturers. Note that these EN standards don’t apply specifically to bags, but materials.
EN 14362: Methods for determination of certain aromatic amines derived from azo colorants
EN 16483: Labelling of leather trims in textile products
You can search for additional EN standards for bag products on shop.bsigroup.com.
Please note that most of the bag products manufacturers in China and South-East Asia lack qualified equipment and appropriate procedures to proceed EN recognized standard-testing.
Therefore, we recommend that you select prestigious third-party testing companies such as SGS, Intertek, QIMA Bureau Veritas which offer EN standards lab testing service to safeguard your best interest.
Directive 94/62/EC: Packaging Regulations
Bag importers and manufacturers must also ensure that the packaging materials are compliant. Below follows a brief summary of packaging materials and waste requirements in the European Union.
Heavy Metals Restrictions
Directive 94/62/EC limits heavy metals, including lead, mercury, and cadmium in packaging materials, printing inks, and dyes. Third-party lab testing is the only available method to verify if your packaging materials are compliant. This also includes packaging materials, such as plastic bags and wrapping.
Intertek, SGS, TUV, QIMA and other product testing companies offer packaging materials testing services.
Additional Packaging Information
1. Packaging design and material should enable and simplify the collection, reuse, and material recycling.
2. Product labeling requirements, such as compliance marks, may also need to be printed on the product packaging.
Amazon Europe Compliance Requirements
Products sold on Amazon.co.uk (and other European Amazon websites such as Amazon.it, and so on) must comply with all mandatory EU product directives, certification, and labeling requirements. Amazon also has a history of forcing third-party sellers to comply with standards that are otherwise voluntary.
It’s therefore essential that you carefully read the relevant product category requirements in the Amazon Seller Central before you intend to import and sell backpacks, leather bags, textile bags, and other related products
How does Amazon check product compliance?
Amazon may request lab test reports, certificates, product photos, and invoices when listing new SKUs. They may also contact you to request these files if they have any reason to review your product.
What can happen if we sell non-compliant bags on Amazon?
Amazon has the right to remove your product listing. In most cases we have seen, Amazon limits its action to specific SKUs. That said, they have the right to suspend all your product listings or your entire account if needed. Generally speaking, bags, handbags and luggage products for adults are generally not considered ‘risk products’.