Do you intend to import or manufacture clothing or other textile goods in the UK? In this article, we cover regulations and standards applicable to clothing and textile goods manufactured or imported into the United Kingdom. This includes substance restrictions, labelling requirements, lab testing, and more.
This article does not apply to Northern Ireland because it still follows EU regulations.
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Textile Products (Labelling and Fibre Composition) Regulations
The Textile Products (Labelling and Fibre Composition) Regulations 2012 enables consumers to make informed decisions regarding their purchases of clothing and textile goods.
To this aim, importers and manufacturers of such goods must ensure that the product carries a label that clearly communicates the composition of textile fibres contained in the product (unless an exception applies) if they intend to place such products in the UK market.
The UK has not passed any new legislation relating to clothing and textile labelling or marking post-Brexit. Thus, the Textile Products (Labelling and Fibre Composition) Regulations still refer to the EU Regulation No 1007/2011 on Textile Labelling and Fibre Composition Regulation in some parts.
Textile product refers to any “raw, semi-worked, worked, semi-manufactured, manufactured, semi-made-up or made-up product which is exclusively composed of textile fibres, regardless of the mixing or assembly process employed”.
The UK regulation affects most textile products, including the following:
a. Products consisting of 80% or more by weight of textile fibres
b. “Furniture, umbrella and sunshade coverings” consisting of 80% or more by weight of textile components
c. The textile components of mattresses and the upper layer of multi-layer floor coverings, and the coverings of camping goods
Annex V contains textile products that do not require a label or marking, including:
- Disposable products
- Textile products employed as equipment for the manufacture and processing of goods
- Animal clothing
- Flags and banners
According to the regulation, only specific names from Annex I to Regulation (EU) No 1007/2011 can be employed for textile fibres. You should seek advice from local trading standards services if the name of a fibre textile cannot be found in the list.
Examples of listed textile fibre commonly found in the clothing and textile industry include:
Products made of one textile fibre
Textile products can either be considered to be made exclusively out of one named textile fibre or be made out of two or more textile fibres. The former situation allows importers and manufacturers to use the following labelling or marking information:
The product is deemed to be made exclusively out of one named textile fibre even if it contains extraneous fibres provided all of the following conditions hold true:
a. The extraneous fibres make up for no more than 2% by weight of the product and 5% by weight of textile products that underwent a carding process
b. Its existence is unavoidable due to adherence to proper manufacturing practices
c. The extraneous fibres are not incorporated into the product as a matter of routine
Multi-fibre textile products
Multi-fibre textile products must generally contain the name and percentage by weight of all named textile fibres and present it in descending order.
Fleece wool and Virgin wool products, decorative fibres, antistatic fibres and other listed products found in Annex IV of the retained EU regulation have unique labelling requirements.
Other information related to the product should always be displayed separately.
Non-textile part of animal origin
Additionally, any non-textile part of animal origin must be clearly communicated through labelling or marking. For instance, if the product contains animal parts, then it should be marked or labelled with the phrase “contains non-textile parts of animal origin”. Except for mechanized processing codes, abbreviations should not be used.
Importers and manufacturers of textile products should ensure that the label or the marking is on the product or its packaging and that its informative content is accurate.
The labelling and marking of such products must be durable (for labels, it should be securely attached), easily found, and easily legible.
If in print, the labels and markings’ content should be printed uniformly concerning their style, size, and font.
If the offer for sale and purchase is done through electronic means, the required labelling information should still be provided before the consumer makes a purchase.
Size and care instructions
Information relating to size and provision of care instructions is not mandatory under the regulation.
BS EN 13402 is a voluntary standard that provides a flexible sizing system and size labelling information for consumers that can be employed.
The label must be in English.
UK REACH: Chemical & Heavy Metals
The UK REACH regulations regulate chemicals and heavy metals (in both raw material and finished product form) contained in most consumer products manufactured or sold in the UK. Additionally, it promotes alternate methods of assessment of possibly hazardous substances.
It would likely affect importers, manufacturers, and distributors of textile products due to its chemical treatment during the manufacturing process, and they should ensure compliance with the substance restrictions and observe applicable notification obligations.
The UK REACH regulations cover most chemical substances and heavy metals in their standalone form, in mixtures, and in their form as an article (e.g. textile products).
Here are some examples of textile products that might contain restricted substances:
a. Textiles with vibrant colors, which might contain aromatic amines from azo dyes
b. Apparel that includes plastic parts, which might contain phthalates
c. Sportswear, which might contain organotin compounds that are employed as a biocide and a pesticide in clothing and textile-like
The regulations continue to apply to such products even though their production has a greater influence over their function than their chemical composition.
Here are some examples of restricted substances that may be found in textile products and their specific restrictions under UK REACH:
a. Polybromobiphenyls; Polybrominatedbiphenyls (PBB) (must not be used in textile products that are intended to meet the human skin)
b. Azocolourants and Azodyes (generally, cannot be in concentrations exceeding 0.1% by weight when intended for coloring textile and leather products)
c. Tris Phosphate (must not be used in textile products that are intended to meet the human skin)
d. Tris phosphinoxide (must not be used in textile products that are intended to meet the human skin)
e. Nonylphenol ethoxylates (NPE) (generally, cannot be in concentrations exceeding 0.01% by weight of the textile product or its textile parts)
General Product Safety Regulations (GPSR)
The General Product Safety Regulations 2005 (GPSR) aims to ensure the safety of consumer products in the UK market. In the absence of any specific legislation, it functions as the default regulation that imposes general safety requirements and standards.
The legislation applies to most consumer products unless the product is affected by specific UK legislative provisions. Thus, it may also affect textile products.
An example of such textile products affected by the GPSR is represented by children’s clothing that includes cords and drawstrings.
Importers and manufacturers who comply with a UK voluntary standard for their product can benefit from a presumption of conformity.
For example, BS EN 14682 – Safety of children’s clothing – Cords and drawstrings is referenced by the regulations.
When the regulations do not reference any standard for their product, importers and manufacturers might still use other international or national standards that are relevant for the products. We list some of these standards in the subsequent sections.
The regulations require importers and manufacturers to ensure the following:
- Creation and backup of the Risk Assessment Report
- Creation of the Technical File
- Provide traceability label
- Obtain test reports (if applicable)
- Creation of the user manual for the products (if applicable)
Clothing and Textiles British Standards
This section contains voluntary standards related to clothing and textile products placed in the UK.
Children’s clothing British Standards
The following are standards relating to children’s clothing and textile products:
a. BS EN 14682 – Safety of children’s clothing – Cords and drawstrings on children’s clothing (which is referenced by the GPSR)
b. BS EN 14878 – Burning behaviour of children’s nightwear – Specification
c. BS EN 17394-1 – Textiles and textile products: part 1 – Safety of children’s clothing – Security of attachment of attached components to infant’s clothing – specification
d. EN 17394-2 – Textiles and Textile Products: Part 2 – Safety of children’s clothing – Security of attachment of buttons – Test method
e. EN 17394-3 – Textiles and Textile Products: Part 3: Safety of children’s clothing – Security of attachment of metal mechanically applied press fasteners – Test method
f. EN 17394-4 – Textiles and Textile Products: Part 4: Safety of children’s clothing – Security of attachment of components except buttons and metal mechanically applied press fasteners – Test method
BS EN ISO 12952-1 – Textiles. Assessment of the ignitability of bedding items Ignition source. Smouldering cigarette
This standard outlines test methods to test the ignitability of bedding products when in contact with a smouldering cigarette. It covers the following bedding products:
- Mattress covers
- Incontinence sheets and pads
- Electric blankets
- Quilts (duvets)
- Pillows (regardless of the filling)
The standard does not cover mattresses, mattress pads, and bed bases.
BS EN ISO 12952-2 – Textiles. Assessment of the ignitability of bedding items Ignition source. Match-flame equivalent
The BS EN ISO 12952-2 outlines test methods to test the ignitability of all bedding items when exposed to match-flame equivalent. The product scope covers the same products as BS EN ISO 12952-1.
BS 6476 – Guide to garment quality and relevant British Standards
This document references different standards that relate to the manufacturing of garments and lists out factors that should be taken into account throughout the garment production stages.
It references standards for each stage and assesses the quality and fitness of employed materials or processes.
The following are some of the standards that are referenced:
a. BS 2866 – Methods for Determination of the mass of warp and weft per unit area of fabric
b. BS 2861 – Presentation of a Weave Diagram and Plans for Drafting, Denting and Lifting
c. BS 3870-1 – Stitches and Seams Part 1: Classification and Terminology of Stitch Types
Personal Protective Equipment Regulations
The Personal Protective Equipment Regulations 2018 cover personal protective equipment (PPE) placed in the UK market. To this end, it imposes a legal obligation to ensure that the PPE provides the required protection against certain risks.
The regulation covers PPE that are:
a. Manufactured and designed to be equipped for protection against one or more risks that would adversely affect the owner’s health or safety
b. Interchangeable components for said equipment that are essential to realising its protective functions
c. Connection systems for said equipment that are not equipped by a person, but are designed to connect said equipment with an external device or reliable anchorage point. They are not meant to be permanently fixed and do not need fastening works before being employed
Here are some examples of PPE textile products:
- Water-proof trousers
- Fire-proof clothing
- High visibility clothing
- Protective gloves
The following are designated standards for protective clothing:
a. BS EN 342 – Ensembles and garments for protection against cold
b. BS EN 343 – Protective clothing – Protection against rain
c. BS EN ISO 13998 – Aprons, trousers and vests designed to protect against cuts and stabs by hand knives
d. BS EN 14058 – Garments for protection against cool environments
Post-Brexit, application of the UKCA marking is required as opposed to the CE marking label (unless exceptions apply).
Additionally, importers and manufacturers are required to write up and store for record-keeping purposes the following:
- A user manual
- A technical file
- Obtain from a testing lab a test report
- A Declaration of Conformity
- A label meeting the traceability requirements