Planning to import and sell furniture products in the European Union? In this article, you will learn the basics of safety regulations and labeling requirements applicable to furniture products including GPSD, REACH, and more.
- Upholstered furniture
EU Furniture Fire Safety Standards
In the European Union, there are two categories of fire safety standards: harmonized standards that are applicable in all EU countries; and national standards that are only applicable in certain countries.
The applicable standards depend on:
- Type of furniture (e.g. upholstered, non-upholstered);
- Material (e.g. fabric, foam, and other filling materials);
- Area of usage (e.g. public usage, residential, or commercial usage).
Here, we list some examples for both harmonized and national furniture fire retardant standards as follows:
- EN 1021-1: Ignition source smoldering cigarette (Link)
- EN 1021-2: Ignition source match flame equivalent (Link)
- DIN B1: Germany
- NFP 92 – 503: France
- BS 5852:1990: United Kingdom
- CSR RF 1/75 A: Italy
It is important to contact your local authorities to confirm all applicable standards, both national standards, and harmonized EU standards.
Furniture Flammability Lab Testing
1. Third-party companies such as Intertek, QIMA, and SATRA, provide flammability testing that focuses on checking fire resistance of furniture in accordance with international standards.
2. In order to ensure product safety, we recommend that you always book a third-party flammability testing before importing furniture and other home products.
Children’s Furniture Rules
Children’s furniture is defined as furniture designed to be used by children under 14 years old.
As for today, there is not a specific regulation for children’s furniture. However, certain EN standards may still apply, or be implemented in the near future.
For example, if children’s furniture has play features or play value, then it’s considered a toy and you need to meet the requirements of the Toy Safety Directive 2009/48/EC, including compliance with the relevant EN 71 standards.
Here we list some other EN standards that may also apply to your children’s furniture, depending on the type of product you plan to import, export or manufacture:
- EN 747-1:1993 Furniture, bunk beds for domestic use
- EN 1130- 1: 1996 – Furniture – Cribs and cradles for domestic use
- EN 12227- 1: 1999 – Playpens for domestic use
- EN 12586:1999 – Childcare articles – Soother holder
- EN 12520:2015 – Furniture. Strength, durability, and safety
CE Marking: If the Toy Safety Directive applies to your children’s furniture products, the product will need the CE marking, as it’s mandatory for all products that fall within the scope of the Toy Safety Directive.
General Product Safety Directive (GPSD)
GPSD aims at ensuring that only safe products can be sold in the EU. Even If there is no specific directive or EN standard applicable to the type of furniture you sell, GPSD is still applicable to all consumer products sold in the EU, including furniture.
Importers need to self-assess product safety and ensure that the product does not pose a threat to consumers. This can be done by issuing an assessment that covers the risks, and risk categories associated with the product.
Notice that the GPSD shall not limit to children’s furniture, but all furniture.
We recommend importers to create a risk assessment document with essential safety information such as:
- Product information
- Potential harm
- Hazard identification
- Risk level
Third-party GPSD testing is not mandatory. However, third-party testing companies can help you to assess general product safety in a professional way.
The General Product Safety Directive (GPSD) is not a ‘CE marking directive’.
Furniture EN Standards
Following certain EN standards is generally voluntary (unless required by a directive or product regulation). That said, EN standards can be used at a product design stage to ensure that the product is safe to use.
EN standards also provide testing methods and procedures, which serve as an excellent reference point when it comes to verifying that your furniture reaches high quality and safety standards.
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.
EN 12521:2015 – Furniture. Strength, durability and safety. Requirements for domestic tables
EN 15372:2008 – Furniture. Strength, durability and safety. Requirements for non-domestic tables
EN 14072:2003 – Glass in furniture. Test methods
Note: You can search for additional EN standards for furniture on shop.bsigroup.com.
SGS, Intertek, QMIA, Bureau Veritas, and other established third-party testing companies offer EN standards lab testing services. Note that most furniture manufacturers don’t have the equipment and expertise to carry out EN standards testing.
REACH sets limits to harmful substances in all consumer products sold in the European Union. As such, REACH also applies to furniture products.
Some restricted substances examples are listed below:
Substance of Very High Concern (SVHC)
The European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) provides a list of SVHC for authorization. The ECHA adds new substances to the list on a non-regular basis. Importers don’t necessarily need to keep track of the list as third-party testing companies, such as QIMA and Bureau Veritas, can help you assess which substance tests (and limits) apply to your product. Testing companies also keep up to date with new substances added to the SVHC list and their respective limits.
Furniture paints and coatings may contain excessive amounts of restricted chemicals and heavy metals. As such, it’s essential that you inform your supplier of your REACH requirements, as they, in turn, must ensure that they only use coatings and paints compliant with REACH.
It is essential to discuss the REACH requirements with your supplier before placing the order. Most suppliers may not be able to provide existing REACH testing report, therefore your products should be tested by a third-party testing company.
There are various companies offering REACH testing, including Bureau Veritas, TUV, SGS, and QIMA. Our recommendation is that you book REACH testing before your products are shipped to the EU.
Here are some companies offering REACH compliance testing:
- Bureau Veritas
You can find more REACH lab testing companies in this guide.
In general, REACH testing for furniture costs around $200 per substance. However, the quotation depends on the number of materials (e.g. wood species and metal parts, coatings, and colors.
You can learn more about REACH lab testing in this guide.
European Union Timber Regulation (EUTR)
Wooden furniture and other wooden products imported to the EU are regulated by the European Union Timber Regulation (EUTR). The purpose of EUTR is to reduce deforestation, including outside the EU. It requires importers to maintain records and assess their supply chain. What this can mean in practice is that importers must request supply chain documentation from the wooden furniture suppliers:
1. Overview of subcontractors (e.g. Sawmills and loggers)
2. Location of subcontractors
3. Invoices and other support documents
Establishing a verifiable traceability system is time-consuming and difficult for smaller importers. Some factories, especially those who are not regularly exporting wooden products to the EU, may also refuse to share any information about their subcontractors.
The Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) has developed an internationally recognized forest product traceability system. The FSC system can serve as a reference point for importers who don’t wish to implement their own traceability system.
1. Trade in plants & plant products from non-EU countries (Link)
2. What requirements should timber products comply with to be allowed on the European market? (Link)
Directive 94/62/EC: Packaging Regulations
Furniture 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.
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
Amazon has a strict policy on compliance for products sold on its websites. Products must satisfy the requirements of the EU directive, certification, and labeling. Furthermore, Amazon has a history of forcing third-party sellers to comply with voluntary standards as well.
In order to avoid the risk of a product recall, we recommend you to carefully read the product requirements in the Amazon Seller Central before importing it to the European Union.
How does Amazon check product compliance?
They may request and review your product’s documents, such as lab testing reports, certificates, or product manuals.
What can happen if I sell non-compliant products on Amazon?
Amazon can remove your product from its website, due to the reason that it doesn’t comply with one or more standards or regulations.