How to Determine Applicable Product Safety Standards: 5 Methods

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How do you know which product safety standards and labeling requirements apply your product?

Finding information on product regulations, be it a simple t-shirt or a new electronic device, is often the hardest part of the compliance process. In this guide, we list official websites and service providers that can help you find out which regulations apply to your products.

This is covered

  • US Government Websites
  • EU Government Websites
  • Australian Government Websites
  • Online Platforms
  • Testing Companies
  • Compliance Consultants
  • Amazon Seller Central

In addition, you will also learn how lab testing companies and consultants can help you assess mandatory product regulations and standards for your products.

Compliance Checklist

You’re not going to get very far unless you know what to look for using the sources referenced in this guide. While requirements differ depending on the product, age group and country – you should use this universal product compliance checklist when assessing which regulations and standards apply to your product:

1. Confirm mandatory product regulations and directives (e.g. REACH and CPSIA)

2. Confirm applicable product standards (e.g. EN, ASTM and ISO)

3. Confirm applicable labeling requirements (e.g. CE and CPSIA Tracking Label)

4. Confirm applicable documentation/certification requirements (e.g. DoC and CPC)

5. Confirm facility requirements (e.g. GMP and ISO 22000)

Compliance Marks

1. Official Websites

Information on product safety standards, certification procedures, labeling and documentation is publicly available in all developed countries. Although we’ve seen major improvements in the last few years, many government websites are still difficult for the uninitiated to navigate.

Assuming you manage to find what you’re looking for, it’s often even more difficult to interpret the information and apply it to your business. That being said, these government websites serve as a good introduction for understanding the basics.

United States

The CPSC, FDA, FCC and other US Government Agencies operate their own separate websites. As such, there is no official one-stop-shop for product regulatory information in the United States. Therefore, importers and manufacturers are required to search for information across various websites to get a complete picture.

CPSC
  • Products: Toys and children’s products, consumer products, household products
  • Website: www.cpsc.gov
FCC
FDA
  • Products: Food contact materials, medical devices
  • Website: www.fda.gov
Federal Trade Commission (FTC)
  • Information: Labeling requirements, other
  • Website: www.ftc.gov
U.S. Customs and Border Protection
  • Information: General importing requirements
  • Website: www.cbp.gov
ASTM

American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) is not a government website, but a an organization developing product standards for consumer products in the United States. While ASTM standards are normally voluntary, they serve as a reference point for importers and manufacturers.

That said, some US product regulations, including CPSIA, requires compliance with ASTM.

UL

Underwriter Laboratories (UL) develop product standards for electronics sold in the United States. Similar to ASTM.org, you’ll find a database of UL standards on their website that can also be purchased.

European Union

The European Union’s official website (ec.europa.eu) provides free and accessible information concerning CE marking, food contact materials, REACH and other product regulations.

That said, questions related to EU product regulations and EN standards can only be sent to national authorities in charge of product safety and chemicals compliance.

Links

Australia

Product Safety Australia

Productsafety.gov.au is the go-to website for Australian importers looking for information on mandatory standards covering the following product categories:

  • Textiles
  • Toys
  • Children’s products
  • Baby products
  • Helmets
  • Bicycles
  • Furniture and home products
  • Fitness equipment
  • Sunglasses
  • Vehicle equipment
EESS

The Electrical Equipment Safety System (EESS) website (www.eess.gov.au) provides information on mandatory electrical safety and EMC standards in Australia.

  • RCM mark
  • Steps for compliance
  • Safety criteria
  • EESS registration process
Standards Australia

Standards.org.au is a searchable database listing all AS/NZS standards developed by Standards Australia. Here you can find both mandatory and voluntary AS/NZS standards, ISO standards and IEC standards for all product categories.

2. Product Compliance Platforms

ProductIP.com

ProductIP.com is an online platform helping importers, exporters and manufacturers ensure compliance with EU product regulations. You can search thousands of products from within their platform, and access detailed requirements lists:

  • List of EN standards and other regulations
  • List of required (and optional) documents
  • List of required (and optional) labels

ProductIP.com is easy to use and affordable, even for small businesses. It’s really a no brainer for any business looking to sell in the European Union.

Platform Features
  • Requirements lists
  • Technical file manager
  • Compliance reviews
  • Chemicals management
  • Label checks

CE-check.eu

CE-check.eu a digital all-in-one solution helping importers, exporters and manufacturers to ensure compliance with CE marking directives. Not only can this platform help you in assessing mandatory CE directives and EN standards, but also the actual implementation of the CE compliance procedure.

They have various small business friendly pricing plans, and even a free version.

Platform Features
  • Free version
  • Identifying CE Directives and Standards
  • CE Compliance Assessment
  • Creating a Technical file
  • Creating a Declaration of Conformity

3. Product Testing Companies

Product testing companies can only offer a quotation once they have assessed applicable product regulations for a certain product. In addition, they also tend to list all required tests as part of the quotation.

Quotation Sample

Lab test quote

While they obviously charge for lab testing, the quotation is always free. In other words, asking for a lab test quotation is the closest thing you’ll get to a free compliance assessment.

This is what you need to provide before requesting a quotation
  • Product type
  • Category
  • Product image (recommended)
  • Age group
  • Manufacturing country
  • Consumer country

List of testing companies

  • Bureau Veritas
  • SGS
  • Intertek
  • TUV
  • QIMA

4. Compliance Consultants

While you a list of product standards and corresponding tests is a good start, it doesn’t do much to help you understand how the practical compliance process works.

Making a product compliant in practice requires an understanding of technical safety requirements, how to create correct label files and documentation, and even production facility requirements.

While online platforms and government websites can take you a long way, support from a professional is often the only what it takes to connect the dots.

Here’s how a consultant can help you

1. Confirm applicable product safety standards

2. Create label files and documentation

3. Technical/design product compliance review

4. Book lab test

5. Factory audit (e.g. GMP)

5. Amazon Seller Central

Planning to sell on Amazon? Then you should take a close look at the Amazon seller central to find assess which standards and other requirements apply to your product. Amazon requires that all products sold on its platform are compliant with mandatory regulations in each respective market.

That said, Amazon sets the bar even higher for some products, meaning that additional requirements, such as ISO 9001 factory certification, is required.

United States Product Labeling Requirements: An Overview

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Planning to import or export products to the United States? In this article, we explain what you must know about product and packaging labeling requirements, covering everything from clothing and electronics to children’s products and household items.

Overview

  • Country of Origin
  • CPSIA Tracking Label
  • Clothing Labeling
  • FCC Mark
  • UL Mark
  • Choking Hazard Warnings
  • California Proposition 65 Warning Label
  • FHSA Warning Label
  • Amazon Product Labeling Requirements

Country of Origin

The country of origin must be visibly printed on the product and packaging. For example, products manufactured in Vietnam should be labelled as ‘Made in Vietnam.

Note that you are not allowed to transship a product to a third country for relabeling. The same applies to repackaging or minor adjustments made for the sake of claiming that a certain product was manufactured in a different country.

Examples

  • Made in China
  • Made in Vietnam
  • Made in the United States
  • Made in Germany

Continue reading United States Product Labeling Requirements: An Overview

Electronic Product Compliance in Practice: By Fabien Gaussorgues

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fabien sofeast

Electronic product compliance goes beyond listing safety standards and paperwork. Ensuring compliance when importing, exporting or manufacturing electronic devices starts at the drawing board.

In this article, Fabien Gaussorgues of Sofeast Limited in Shenzhen, shares his profound technical expertise and explains what electronic product compliance really means in practice.

How do you normally assess which electronics standards and regulations apply to a product?

To generalize the very start of a New Product Specifications Development, the initial design requirements document would show what problem the product is going to solve and high level product expectations that will be experienced directly or indirectly by the end user. This document would also have design constraints such as size, weight, and major functionalities.

So now we have a starting point, it is time to start designing the product, this needs to be broken down into different components and documents such as:

  • Mechanical structure (e.g. a plastic case)
  • Electronic design
  • Assembly
  • Hardware requirements
  • User Interface (UI/UX if required)
  • System integration if product is integrated
  • Material considerations like recycling
  • Safety regulations (RoHS, CE, FCC)

You also need to consider the ease of manufacture and assembly at this stage, which in turn goes hand in hand with cost optimization. Continue reading Electronic Product Compliance in Practice: By Fabien Gaussorgues

Wood & Bamboo Product Regulations in the United States: A Complete Guide

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Planning or import wooden or bamboo products to the United States? In this guide, we explain what you must know about permits, fumigation, APHIS regulations and markings.

Covered Products

  • Wooden Handicrafts
  • Wooden Furniture
  • Bamboo Products
  • Wooden Packaging Materials
  • Fumigation and Heat Treatment Requirements
  • Other regulations

Wooden Handicrafts

Wood and bamboo regultations

For the wooden handicrafts products, it is regulated by the animal and plant health inspection service (APHIS) in the united states, and the scope of wooden handicrafts products including the example below:

  • Baskets
  • Birdhouse
  • Boxes
  • Picture frames
  • Pencils
  • Wooden furniture
  • Other items composed of wood

Approved Ruppliers

The first step for importing wooden handicraft products from China is to check the APHIS list of approved wooden handicraft manufacturers.

Note that manufacturers are not considered approved until they have been added to the list. The list is maintained by the government of China as part of an agreement with the U.S.

  • Guangzhou Nanfang furniture Co.,Ltd
  • GL plastic goods MFG Co.Ltd
  • Crownwell (Heyuan) Co.Ltd
  • Gaoyao Lianrun arts & crafts Co.Ltd

Facility Requirements

The approved manufacturers produce wooden handicrafts according to specifications which have been agreed by the U.S and China. These products are designed to eliminate the presence of pests in their products. Also, it indicated that the manufacturers have met with the following requirements:

  • Heat treatment to the wooden handicraft product
  • The production area is neat and clean
  • Quarantine treatment to the wooden handicraft product
  • Quality management such as pest control and traceability system

Pre-Import Approvals

Once you have confirmed if the supplier is on the APHIS list, you may proceed to the ePermits website and apply for an import permit.

To access ePermits, you must have a USDA eAuthentication account and it can be registered online. You will also need to provide some general information for the application of the permit.

  • Product category
  • The registered number of the manufacturer
  • Personal contact
  • Quantity of goods

It takes approximately 30 days to receive the permit and you can keep track of the application status online.

The permit indicates the type of treatment the wood requires. Also if the wood component comes from either natural or planted forest stands, you will also need to fill out the declarations form for information such as:

  • Tree’s scientific name
  • Country of harvest
  • Value
  • Description

Continue reading Wood & Bamboo Product Regulations in the United States: A Complete Guide

European Union Product Labeling Requirements: A Beginner’s Guide

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Europe product labeling example

Planning to import or export products to the European Union? In this guide, we explain what you must know about CE marking, WEEE, textiles labels, toy age warning, tracking ID and other mandatory labeling requirements in Europe.

You will also learn which file formats to use when creating your label files and how to instruct your supplier.

Suggestion: Watch the 15 minutes video tutorial before reading this article

CE Marking

CE mark

The CE mark indicates that the product is compliant with all applicable ‘CE directives’, such as RoHS, EN 71 Toy Safety Directive and the Low Voltage Directive.

The CE mark is mandatory for all products falling within the scope of one such directive. Further, the CE mark should not be affixed on a product that is not covered by a ‘CE directive’. Continue reading European Union Product Labeling Requirements: A Beginner’s Guide

Packaging Materials Regulations in the European Union

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EU packaging materials rules

Product compliance extends beyond the product itself, to the packaging materials used to protect and display the product. In this guide, we cover the essentials that all importers and exporters selling in the European Union must know about product packaging materials regulations.

This is covered

  • Directive 94/62/EC
  • REACH
  • Food Packaging Regulations
  • Labeling Requirements
  • Packaging Lab Testing

What is defined as a packaging material?

Packaging materials include both product packaging used for display and customer experience purposes, as well as protective packaging materials such as export cartons. However, in this guide, we primarily focus on the former category.

Product Packaging Examples

  • Watch boxes
  • Cardboard boxes
  • Plastic packaging
  • Food and beverage packaging

Packaging labeling

Note that packaging labeling requirements depend on the product, rather than the packaging material. Various packaging labels, including CE marking and WEEE marking, are covered in this guide.

Food Contact Materials

Additional regulations apply specifically to food and beverage packaging materials.

Continue reading Packaging Materials Regulations in the European Union

Sunglasses & Eyewear Regulations in the European Union: A Complete Guide

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Sunglasses

Sunglasses and other eyewear imported, manufactured or sold in the European Union must comply with a range of safety standards, chemical regulations, and labeling requirements.

This is covered

  • PPE Directive
  • EN Standards
  • REACH
  • Declaration of Conformity
  • Technical file
  • CE Marking

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) Directive

Sunglasses and eyewear products are categorized as Personal protective equipment and under-regulated in EU countries. Before placing any sunglasses and eyewear products on the EU market, sit is Mandatory that the products are compliant with the Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) directive.

Noted that the PPE Directive 89/686/EEC has been repealed and replaced with EU 2016/245.

PPE Risk Categories

PPE products are categorized into three categories:

Category I: Includes PPE product that is intended to protect users.For example:

  • Sunglasses
  • Eye protectors for dust protection

Category II: Includes risks other than those listed in Categories I and III.

Category III: Includes PPE products that may cause serious consequences such as death or irreversible damage to health. For example:

  • Eye protectors for use at high temperatures
  • Eye protectors for use at extremely intensive IR radiation

Continue reading Sunglasses & Eyewear Regulations in the European Union: A Complete Guide

Clothing and Textiles Regulations in Australia and New Zealand

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Planning to import and sell clothing or textiles in Australia and New Zealand? Keep reading, and learn what you must know about restricted chemicals, labeling requirements, lab testing and more.

Chemicals and Heavy Metals Regulations

During the process of textile manufacturing, hundreds of chemicals are used in the textile industry. It is important to ensure that your products are not violating the substance regulations in Australia and New Zealand.

Banned Chemicals and Heavy Metals

Some chemicals are considered as too dangerous for any use and have been banned by ACCC.
For example:

  • Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs)
  • Asbestos

On the other hand, many hazardous chemicals can still be used if appropriate controls are in place. For textile product, the following chemical must not reach a high level due to the harm to humans.

  • Formaldehyde
  • Azo dyes

Continue reading Clothing and Textiles Regulations in Australia and New Zealand

Clothing and Textiles Regulations in the United States: A Complete Guide

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Planning to manufacture, import or sell clothing or other textiles in the United States? In this guide, we explain what you must know about chemical regulations, labeling requirements, lab testing and much more concerning textiles compliance in the United States.

This is covered

  • California Proposition 65
  • Flammable Fabrics Act (FFA)
  • Federal Hazardous Substances Act (FHSA)
  • Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA)
  • ASTM Clothing Standards
  • US Textiles Labeling Rules
  • Country of Origin
  • Clothing Lab Testing

California Proposition 65

Proposition 65 is a California state law that requires businesses with 10 or more employees to provide warning signs on their products if the product contains any chemical that can cause cancer or reproductive harm. CA Prop 65 applies to all consumer products including both children’s and adult products sold in California. Hence, apparel and textiles are also under CA Prop 65 as well.

Notice that CA Prop 65 is just allowing consumers to know if any toxins in their products. It does not necessarily mean that a product violates the safety standards or requirements if it does or may contain any of the restricted substance. However, fail to comply with CA Prop 65 warning labeling rules can result in up to $2500 per day per violation.

In term of textiles, some substances are used in the textile industry that also regulated under CA Prop 65 such as lead, cadmium, and phthalates. When you importing textile products and sell in or to Calfornia, it is important to comply with CA Prop 65.

Continue reading Clothing and Textiles Regulations in the United States: A Complete Guide

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

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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 following:

  • REACH
  • Laboratory testing
  • EU Children’s Clothing Regulations
  • EU Textiles Labeling Rules

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 harms to people. Continue reading Clothing and Textiles Regulations in the European Union: A Complete Guide