Planning to import or manufacture furniture for the European Union market? In this article, we cover several regulations, directives, and safety standards that apply to furniture in the EU. More specifically, the guide covers compliance requirements for wooden furniture, upholstered furniture, children’s furniture, and other products.
This includes the General Product Safety Directive, flammability standards, EUTR, the Toy Safety Directive, and REACH.
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European Union Timber Regulation (EUTR)
The European Timber Regulation (EUTR) forbids importers and manufacturers from placing illegally harvested timber, as well as products made from such timber, on the EU market.
It also mandates importers and manufacturers to practice due diligence and make sure that the timber they place on the EU market is obtained legally.
The EUTR covers a wide assortment of imported and locally produced timber and timber products, such as the following:
- Solid wood products
This includes furniture made from timber, such as the following:
The EUTR requires importers and manufacturers to exercise due diligence to minimise the risk of placing illegally-harvested timber-based products on the EU market. This might include certificates issued by third parties such as CITES, FLEGT, or FSC, and other supporting documents (e.g. receipts, audit records).
Importers and manufacturers are furthermore required to keep records of their customers and suppliers to help make it easier to trace their timber and timber products after they have been sold on the market.
General Product Safety Directive (GPSD)
The General Product Safety Directive (GPSD) requires importers and manufacturers to ensure that their products, including furniture, are safe to use.
Importers and manufacturers are also required to provide a traceability label. Although following harmonised standards is not mandatory, it is a way to ensure that the products are compliant with the requirements of the directive.
If you decide to do not follow harmonised standards, you should find a different solution to prove compliance with the requirements, which in practice might be more complex than following the standards.
The GPSD covers furniture products, such as the following:
- Foldaway beds
Even though this is not explicitly mentioned in the directive, importers and manufacturers of furniture might need to provide documentation to prove that their products are safe to use. This might include items such as the following:
- Risk assessment report
- User manual
- Technical file
- Test reports
Importers and manufacturers should also provide product traceability labelling, which contains information such as the following:
- The importer’s name details
- The product’s batch number
- The product’s origins
The GPSD lists harmonised standards which provide a presumption of product conformity with the technical requirements of the directive. Here are some examples of such standards relevant for furniture:
a. EN 581-1 – Outdoor furniture – Seating and tables for camping, domestic and contract use – Part 1: General safety requirements
b. EN 716-1 – Furniture – Children’s cots and folding cots for domestic use – Part 1: Safety requirements
c. EN 1129-2 – Furniture – Foldaway beds – Safety requirements and testing – Part 2: Test methods
If your furniture product does not have a corresponding harmonised standard, you can use relevant national or international standards.
Furniture Fire Safety Standards
In the European Union, there are two categories of fire safety standards: EN 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)
Below, we list some examples of EN and national furniture fire retardant standards.
EN Fire Safety Standards
- EN 1021-1: Ignition source smouldering cigarette
- EN 1021-2: Ignition source match flame equivalent
- EN 597-1: Mattresses and upholstered bed bases – Ignition source smouldering cigarette
- EN 597-2: Mattresses and upholstered bed bases – Ignition source match flame equivalent
National Fire Safety Standards
- DIN B1: Germany
- NFP 92-503: France
- BS 5852: United Kingdom
- CSR RF 1/75 A: Italy
It is important to contact your local authorities to confirm applicable standards for your product.
Furniture Flammability Lab Testing
Third-party companies such as Intertek, QIMA, and SATRA, provide flammability testing that focuses on checking the fire resistance of furniture per the relevant standards.
To ensure product safety, we recommend that you book a third-party flammability testing before importing furniture and other home products.
General Furniture Standards
EN standards can be used at the product design and post-production 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.
a. EN 12521 – Furniture. Strength, durability and safety. Requirements for domestic tables
b. EN 15372 – Furniture. Strength, durability and safety. Requirements for non-domestic tables
c. EN 14072 – Glass in furniture. Test methods
EN standards testing
SGS, Intertek, QMIA, 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.
Children’s Furniture Standards
Though there may not be any regulation specifically dedicated to “children’s furniture”, some EN standards may still cover different types of furniture that children can use.
Furthermore, children’s furniture with certain features that can be used during play or that have play value may be considered a toy. As such, those types of children’s furniture may need to conform to the requirements set out in the Toy Safety Directive and 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 Furniture, bunk beds for domestic use
- EN 1130- 1 – Furniture – Cribs and cradles for domestic use
- EN 12227- 1 – Playpens for domestic use
- EN 12520 – Furniture. Strength, durability, and safety
Toy Safety Directive
The safety requirements in the directive cover risks such as those relating to dangerous substances, mechanical hazards and flammability.
The directive covers toys and a variety of children’s products that either has a play feature or play value, including furniture. Here are some examples of furniture items that might fall under the scope of the directive:
- Play system table
- Pumpkin carriage beds
The Toy Safety Directive requires importers and manufacturers to provide relevant label files and documents, such as the following:
The Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals (REACH) is a regulation in the EU that restricts the amount of chemicals and heavy metals in a wide range of consumer products, including furniture made of wood, metal, or glass.
Annex XVII to REACH lists types of substances that may be used in furniture, or in the materials used to make furniture. These materials may include substances such as the following:
a. Lead (may be found in headboards)
b. Cadmium and its compounds (may be found in bed frames)
c. Phthalates (may be found in plastic furniture)
It is forbidden to sell furniture products containing restricted substances that exceed the stated limit in Annex XVII to REACH.
Substances of Very High Concern (SVHCs) are substances that may result in permanent negative effects on the environment and human health.
Examples of SVHCs include substances such as the following:
- Cadmium nitrate
SVHCs may be found in furniture-related products such as the following:
- Coating products
Businesses that import or manufacture products containing SVHCs with concentrations over 0.1% weight by weight (w/w) are required to submit information about those articles to the ECHA via the SCIP database.
Furniture paints and coatings may contain excessive amounts of restricted chemicals and heavy metals. As such, you must 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 furniture suppliers outside the EU may not be able to provide existing REACH testing reports, therefore your products should be tested by a third-party testing company.
There are various companies offering REACH testing, including TUV, SGS, and QIMA. We recommend that you book REACH testing before your products are shipped to the EU.
You can find more REACH lab testing companies in this guide.
Directive 94/62/EC on Packaging and Packaging Waste
Furniture importers and manufacturers must also ensure that the packaging materials are compliant with Directive 94/62/EC on Packaging and Packaging Waste. Below follows a 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 often 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.
Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR)
Directive 94/62/EC establishes requirements for the Extended Producer Responsibility Scheme. Under the scheme, importers and manufacturers must extend their scope of financial responsibility past a product’s post-consumer stage.
They can achieve this goal by contributing a fee to an EPR company, which in turn collects and recycles any discarded packaging and packaging waste, including packaging that purchased furniture that comes in.