If you’re importing products or selling on Amazon, chances are that you’ll need to provide a Safety Data Sheet (SDS). In this guide, you will learn what an SDS is, how to get one, and why many suppliers in China and other Asian countries can’t issue one for you.
What is the Safety Data Sheet (SDS)?
A Safety Data Sheet (SDS) is a standardized product safety document, providing detailed instructions on how to safely handle, label, store certain products.
Here are some items which must be included in an SDS:
- Product name
- First-aid instructions
- Protective equipment
- Safety storage instructions
Which products require an SDS?
An SDS may be required if you’re importing products classified as dangerous goods, which is also referred to by some (including Amazon) as Hazmat products.
Products that contain potentially hazardous chemicals, materials or components are often classified as dangerous goods. Note that this is not limited to harmful chemicals and heavy metals, but also products that are essential to safety, such as car airbags.
Here are a few examples:
- Power banks
- Other products containing batteries
- Household cleaning products
- Auto parts
- Skincare products
- Essential oils
- Haircare products
- Petcare products
- Certain types of children’s products
As you can see in the list above, most products in contact with human skin or battery-powered devices require an SDS. That said, the requirements differ depending on whether your product is used in the workplace or households.
Further, the product as a whole may be classified as dangerous goods if the device contains certain substances or materials (e.g. essential oils).
Why do I need a Safety Data Sheet (SDS)?
Safety Data Sheets are mandatory when importing certain products to the United States, the European Union, and other markets. Here are a few situations in which you can be requested to provide an SDS:
1. Freight forwarders may require an SDS before shipping your product
2. The customs authorities may require an SDS during the customs clearance process
3. Retailers and other customers may require that provide an SDS
4. Amazon requires an SDS when selling products classified as dangerous goods (Hazmat)
5. Market surveillance authorities may request an SDS
How do I get a Safety Data Sheet (SDS)?
In theory, you should receive the SDS from your manufacturer. That said, it’s often more complex than that.
Many contract manufacturers in China and other countries in Asia don’t know how to issue an SDS. Even if they do, they may not use the correct format and provide an accurate English language translation.
This is not because they are idiots, but simply because OEM manufacturers are not compliance experts. Virtually all established buyers either use a third party to get an SDS or instruct their supplier on how to create one.
It also depends on whether you’re importing factory designed or custom designed products.
Factories manufacturing certain commodities, such as wet wipes, often have standard SDS for various standard products.
However, this is less common among electronics or toy manufacturers producing custom-designed products based on buyer specifications.
An SDS cannot be issued for a custom-designed product that has not been made yet, and most suppliers expect the buyer to take care of the SDS and other documentation when products are manufactured according to the buyer’s specifications.
Using a Safety Datasheet (SDS) Authoring Service
In case your supplier cannot provide an SDS, your only option is to use a third party Safety Datasheet (SDS) Authoring Service to do it for you.
That said, your supplier expects you to pay for it, either by increasing the unit price or asking you to pay the author service company directly.
How much does an SDS cost?
A Safety Data Sheet doesn’t cost you anything, as long as your supplier can provide one. However, if that’s not the case you’ll need to use an SDS authoring service.
The UL self-service SDS creation tool starts from USD 275 per SDS, while ‘done for you’ services can cost significantly more.
Do I need an SDS when selling on Amazon?
You need a Safety Data Sheet (SDS) or for products classified as dangerous goods. Without an SDS your product listing will likely be rejected.
What’s the difference between an SDS and MSDS?
The SDS is based on a standardized and internationally recognized format, while the older Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) could be made in different formats. As such, you’ll need an SDS and not an MSDS.
That said, some manufacturers and even freight forwarders often refer to the SDS as an MSDS.