• Clothing and Textiles Regulations in the European Union: A Complete Guide

    Posted on 15 Comments

    About to import or export clothing or other textiles for sale in the European Union? In this guide, we cover everything you must know about the topic.

    REACH: Chemicals & Heavy Metals

    In general, REACH applies to all products including apparel and textiles products. In fact, hundreds of chemicals were used during the process of textile manufacturing. For example, sulfuric acid was used for clothes finishing. Therefore, it is essential to follow the REACH regulations in order to avoid harm to people.

    a. What are the obligations of REACH regulation?

    Since REACH is the regulation of the European Union, and as such it applies to all countries belonging to the EU. Here we listed the main sectors that are under REACH regulation:

    a. A manufacturer in EU that supplies products that contain any chemical substances.

    b. An importer in the EU who buys products from outside the EU that contain any chemical substances.

    c. A company or user who handle any chemicals in industrial or professional activity in the EU.

    Noted that companies that established outside the EU have no obligation to follow REACH, even they export their products to the EU. The responsibility will shift to the importer in the EU.

    Although the REACH does not apply to other countries outside the EU, it becomes an international reference for other countries as well. For example, Switzerland is not part of the EU but they generally accept EU regulations.

    b. How do I know which chemicals and heavy metals are restricted?

    The Annex XVII of REACH regulation provided a list of restricted substances for your reference. You can spend time to read through the restricted list and make sure that your products do not contain any one of the listed substances.

    However, it is not practical to read through the restricted list. In many cases, it could be difficult just to know what chemical substances are contained in your products. The lab testing company will help you assess which chemicals, heavy metals, and pollutants to check during the test. Hence, as an importer or reseller, you don’t need to keep track of this. Therefore, a lab test is recommended to make sure your products comply with the regulations.

    c. Is lab testing mandatory?

    A REACH SVHC lab testing is not mandatory for your products. However, failing to comply with the regulations can result in heavy penalties such as imprisonment, fines or withdrawal of your products from the market. As this could be fatal to your business, lab testing is always recommended in order to prevent this from happening.

    In addition, regulatory compliance requirements could be difficult to follow as it might require knowledge and experiences. For example, 6 new substances have been added to the REACH SVHC list in January 2019. Since regulations are updated on a nonscheduled basis, it’s not always easy to keep track of all the regulated substances.

    Hence, we always recommend getting your products lab-tested, as in this case you don’t need to worry too much about each substance, as long as the lab can provide a valid certificate for your products.

    REACH SVHC testing

    EU Children’s Clothing Regulations

    The EU children’s clothing regulations are strict as to prevent children from fatal incidents. Children’s clothing must meet the requirements when entering the EU market. Products that fail to comply will result in withdrawal from the EU market. Here we listed some standards as below:

    EN 14878:2007: Burning Behaviour of Children’s Nightwear

    You will need to comply with this regulation when importing children’s nightwear including bathrobes, pajamas, nightshirts, etc.. Noted that it does not apply to babies’ nightwear. Here we summarize some key points as below:

    a. This standard is not legislative but acts as an assess specifically for flammability risk.

    b. This standard does not require any additional labeling of products.

    c. In the UK, the UK nightwear regulations 1985 will take priority over EN 14878.

    EN 14682:2014 Safety of Children’s Clothing

    EN 14682 regulation covers all children’s clothing including disguise costumes and ski apparel up to 14 years of age. The aim is to minimize the risk of accidental entrapment by cords or drawstrings on children’s clothing.

    If your children’s clothing products contain any cords or drawstrings, it is important to comply with this regulation when importing to the EU.

    Here we outlined some key points of EN 14682:

    a. Functional cord, Drawstring, Decorative cord, elastic cord, shoulder strap, and halter neck cord are covered under this regulation

    b. Shoes, boots and similar footwear are not covered under this regulation

    c. Risk assessment is required to prove that the products do no harm to children

    Clothing care label

    EU Textiles Labeling Rules

    According to EU Textile and clothing regulation, products have to be labeled or marked whenever they are available on the market. But what information should be included or not required in the label? Here we summarized the labeling information as below:

    a. Full fiber composition must be labeled on textile products

    b. Non-textile parts of animal origin must be clearly labeled(such as fur or leather)

    c. The label should not contain abbreviations with the exception of mechanized processing codes

    d. Care instruction labeling is not required under EU textiles regulation

    e. Manufacturer identification is not required

    How do I know if my product is classified as a textile product?

    According to the EU textile regulation, “Textile products are any raw,semi-worked, worked, semi-manufactured, manufactured, semi-made-up or made-up product which is exclusively composed of textile fibers, regardless of the mixing or assembly process employed.” Also, the following products are treated as textile products as well.

    a. Products containing at least 80% by weight of textile fibers.

    b. Products incorporating textile components and which form an integral part of the product.

    a. Fiber Composition

    As mentioned above, fiber content must be provided under the EU textile regulation. Here we listed some common fiber and attribute in the textile industry.

    • Silk (smooth fabric finish with high shine)
    • Wool (Warmth)
    • Nylon (Durable, Strong, lightweight, dries quickly)
    • Polyester (Durable, Strong, lightweight, dries quickly)
    • Cotton (Lightweight, absorbent)
    • Spandex (Elastic,strong,lightweight)

    b. Placement

    The label should be affixed permanently on textile products. Take an example as a T-shirt, the label is usually affixed on the inner side of the product. In general, textile products must carry a durable, legible, easily visible and accessible label, either on the product or on its packaging.

    c. Sizes

    As of today, harmonization of the size system is covered by a European voluntary standard EN13402 on size designation of clothes. However, size labeling on textile products is not covered and there is no obligation to apply the standard.

    d. Care Instructions

    Similar to sizes labeling, it is not mandatory under EU textile regulation. However, if you choose to include care instruction on your product, you should be noted that care symbols are covered by Trademark and there is a fee to use them in Europe.

    e. Country of Origin

    In the European Union, there is no such obligation for providing Country of Origin on the label. However, if you choose to state the Country of Origin on the label, it must not be misleading to consumers. It should be clearly labeled.

    f. Language

    The information on the label should be written in the official languages of the EU country where the textile will be marketed. For example, you shall label in German as it is the official language in Germany.

    Jeans in a store

    Clothing Lab Testing

    a. REACH SVHC lab testing

    REACH lab testing is not mandatory under the EU textile regulation. However, it is recommended because the test can help you to verify compliance with the requirements of REACH. Violating the REACH regulation can result in a heavy fine and force recall on your products. It is important to avoid the dangers of using dangerous chemicals that can impact on humans and the environment.

    b. Testing cost

    The testing cost is around 300 EUR per color and fabric. The more colors and fabrics the higher the cost. In general, identification of the substance, physical-chemical test, toxicological test, and Ecotoxicological tests will be conducted during the test. The cost will also include a detailed report for the proof of your product.

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    Disclaimer: The content on this website is provided for general information only. The content includes summaries written by our team members based on publicly available information about product safety standards, labeling, documentation, testing, processes, and other product compliance related topics. However, we don’t guarantee that we cover every single relevant regulation/standard/requirement, or that the information is free from errors, or covering every single scenario and exemption. We do make mistakes from time to time. We never provide legal advice of any sort.

    Changes/Updates: Product standards and substance restrictions are subject to frequent updates and changes. In addition, new regulations, standards, and/or requirements may also become effective at any time. We don’t update our articles whenever new standards/regulations/rules are added or changed. We recommend that you consult a lab testing company or other professional to get the latest information about mandatory standards/regulations in your market, country, or state. Lab testing companies generally stay up to date on new and updated standards and regulations.

    National/State-Level Standards/Regulations: Many articles don't cover all European national and US state standards, regulations, and requirements. We recommend that you consult a testing company or other professional to confirm all relevant (and current) national/state level standards and regulations.
  • 15 Responses to “Clothing and Textiles Regulations in the European Union: A Complete Guide

    1. N at 5:07 pm

      Hi Fredric, do you know if fabric composition is required on the products like tie, bowman and bath mat?

      1. Fredrik Gronkvist at 3:30 pm

        Hi N,

        I cannot remember. But, there is a list on the EU website.

    2. Walty Fernandes at 9:54 pm

      I would like to inquire about what recent regulations the company need to comply for exporting garments manufacturing in India to the EU.
      I am presently based in Scotland and in a process of registering an office.

      Kindly advise,

      Best regards,


      1. Fredrik Gronkvist at 1:17 pm

        Hi Walty,

        I suggest you try our compliance information tool: http://www.compliancegate.com/tool

    3. Robert Atkinson at 7:45 pm

      Are European clothing sellers required to indicate fabric contents at POS for the clothing articles they sell?

      1. Fredrik Gronkvist at 2:21 pm

        Hi Robert,

        What do you mean with POS? The products must be correctly labeled and the fiber content is part of that requirement.

        1. Raja Anuragi at 10:51 pm

          Hi Fredrik
          I am a new learner of textile compliance because I want to make my career in this field. So please suggest me how I can pursue in future

          1. Fredrik Gronkvist at 11:22 am

            Hi Raja,

            I guess the best way forward is to seek employment as some of the big testing companies like SGS or Intertek

    4. 5 Important Things Importers Must Know About Product Safety at 7:07 pm

      […] requirements (e.g. Care Labels, CE mark, Country of Origin, FCC […]

    5. peter greenwood at 11:19 pm

      Hi Fredrik,

      Great article.

      Do you have any information on what tests need to be done for children’s footwear?

    6. Casey at 12:08 pm

      what is the legal fabric composition tolerance for EU? eg. the fabric in 100% Cotton, 75%Cotton/23%Polyamide/2%Elastane

      1. shaji at 6:42 pm

        it is 0 on single component like 100% cotton ( no tolerance)
        +-3% on multi component.

    7. Tyler Johnson at 3:15 pm

      That’s interesting that there are no regulations on sizes or care instructions being labeled on textiles in the EU. I feel like there would be different regulations for that kind of thing in different parts of the world. I’ll have to consider getting someone to help me make sure that I follow all the rules of different countries if I decide to start a company and it does well enough to expand into different countries.

      1. Fredrik Gronkvist at 9:26 am

        Perhaps, but it would also be very problematic to regulate the exact measurements as different types of apparel have different fits. It’s probably best if the governments stay out of that.

      2. shaji at 6:46 pm

        internationally there is no law in regards to size and care instruction . But suggested care must protect the products in its life . Size always depends on customer size requirement and fit comments .

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