• 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

    Watches

    Watches are labeled differently than other products, as it’s the movement origin, rather than the manufacturer origin, that is deemed important. As such, many watches with Japanese movements are labeled as such, even though the actual manufacturing and assembly of the final product takes place in China.

    Products: All consumer products

    CPSIA Tracking Label

    Toys and other children’s products imported or manufactured in the United States must carry a permanent CPSIA tracking label.

    • Manufacturer name
    • US address
    • US phone number
    • Website
    • Date of production
    • Production location
    • Batch number

    The purpose of the tracking label is to ensure that non-compliant and unsafe products can be identified and returned back to the seller.

    Products: Toys and other children’s products

    What is a Batch number?

    The batch number identifies the production run, manufacturing facility and country.

    Example: SKU-YYMM-01-CN

    Clothing Labeling

    textiles label

    Apparel imported or manufactured in the United States must carry a permanent (e.g. nylon patch or printed) textiles label. Its purpose is to inform the customer of the fiber composition and care.

    • Importer or manufacturer information
    • Fiber composition (e.g. 100% cotton)
    • ASTM care labels (link)
    • English language

    Is size mandatory on the textile label?

    Size is not mandatory, but recommended as it’s expected by consumers.

    Are there standard clothing sizes in the United States?

    While not mandatory, there are standardized US clothing sizes for both men and women, across different age groups and products.

    Examples

    1. ASTM D5585-95, 2001, Standard Table of Body Measurements for Adult Female[5]

    2. ASTM D6829-02, 2008, Standard Tables of Body Measurements for Juniors

    3. ASTM D5585-11, 2011, Standard Tables of Body Measurements for Adult Female Misses Figure Type, Size Range 00–20

    4. ASTM D6240-98, 2006, ASTM D6240-98 Standard Tables of Body Measurements for Men Sizes Thirty-Four to Sixty (34 to 60)

    Products: Clothing

    FCC Mark

    FCC

    The FCC compliance mark certifies to the consumer that the electronic product is compliant with all applicable FCC regulations, concerning electromagnetic interference. The FCC compliance mark should either be permanently affixed on the product, or the manual – assuming the product itself is too small for the FCC mark.

    Products: Electronics

    Other Labels

    Choking Hazard Warnings

    Choking hazard warning labels are mandatory as part of CPSIA. Consult your product testing company to assess if any of the following choking hazard labels are relevant for your product:

    WARNING: CHOKING HAZARD – Small parts
    Not for children under 3 years.

    WARNING: CHOKING HAZARD – This toy is a small ball.
    Not for children under 3 years.

    WARNING: CHOKING HAZARD -Toy contains a small ball.
    Not for children under 3 years.

    WARNING: CHOKING HAZARD – Children under 8 years can choke or suffocate on uninflated or broken balloons.
    Adult supervision required.
    Keep uninflated balloons from children.
    Discard broken balloons at once.

    WARNING: CHOKING HAZARD – This toy is a marble.
    Not for children under 3 years.

    WARNING: CHOKING HAZARD – Toy contains a marble
    Not for children under 3 years.

    Products: Toys and other children’s products

    California Proposition 65 Warning Label

    California Proposition 65 restricts more than 800 chemicals and heavy metals in consumer products sold in California.

    “If a product contains a listed chemical, then the product must contain a “clear and reasonable” warning label informing consumers of the presence of the chemical and stating the chemical is known to cause cancer, birth defects, or other reproductive harm.” – Daniel Herling, Member at Mintz Levin

    As such, you can either get the product lab tested to prove that it doesn’t contain any of the listed chemicals, or ensure that the product carries a warning label.

    CA Prop 65 Warning Label Example

    This product can expose you to chemicals including [name of chemicals] which are known to the State of California to cause [cancer/birth defects or other reproductive harm]. For more information go to www.P65Warnings.ca.gov


    Products: Consumer products sold in California

    UL Mark

    The Underwriter Laboratories (UL) symbol indicates that the product is either manufactured by a UL listed supplier, or that that the product has passed the UL testing and certification process. As such, you cannot affix the UL mark to a product that is purchased from a non-UL listed supplier, or has not passed their testing procedure.

    UL Marks
    • UL Listed
    • UL Certified
    UL Standards Examples
    • UL 1642 – Standard for Lithium Batteries
    • UL 20 – General-Use Snap Switches
    • UL 2595 – General Requirements for Battery-Powered Appliances
    • UL 2089 – Standard for Vehicle Battery Adapters
    • UL 1740 – Standard for Robots and Robotic Equipment
    • UL 879A – Standard for LED Sign and Sign Retrofit Kits

    Note that UL compliance is not mandatory, but strongly recommended if you are importing, exporting or manufacturing electronic products for the US market.

    Products: Electronics

    FHSA Warning Label

    The Federal Hazardous Substances Act (FHSA) requires that certain types of toxic and hazardous household products, such as strong carry storage instruction and general safety labels. Note that FHSA is applicable to all household products that fall within any of the following classifications:

    • Toxic
    • Corrosive
    • Flammable
    • Combustible
    • Irritant
    • Strong sensitizer
    FHSA product examples
    • Cleaning products
    • Cosmetics
    • Art materials
    • Charcoal
    • Chemistry sets
    FHSA label information
    • Manufacturer or seller identity
    • Address
    • Hazardous ingredients
    • Signal word: Danger, Poison, Caution and/or Warning (depending on the classification)
    • Hazard (e.g. Flammable, Causes burns etc)
    • Precautionary safety statement/instructions
    • First aid treatment information
    • Information about storage or handling
    • The statement “Keep out of the reach of children”

    Products: Household products

    Amazon Product Labeling Requirements

    Products sold on Amazon.com must comply with all mandatory labeling requirements and other product regulations. Further, Amazon.com can request product and packaging photos demonstrating that the correct labels are present.

    There are also cases when Amazon have even declined product listings for having labels that should not be printed on the product.

    Amazon is strict about compliance and far more likely to take action against an incorrectly or otherwise non-compliant products than the US customs or CPSC.

    Why your product may need more than one label

    It’s often the case that more than one label is applicable to a certain product. Textiles, for example, must both have the textiles label, which includes both the fiber composition and ASTM care symbols – and the country of origin.

    Another example is electronic toys, which may need to carry the following labels:

    • CPSIA tracking label
    • FCC symbol
    • Country of origin

    This is also why it’s difficult to find complete information on government websites, such as CPSC.gov or FCC.gov, as each only cover their own – overlapping – product labeling requirements.

    FAQ

    How do I create the label file?

    You can use Photoshop, Adobe Illustrator or even Paint. What matters is that the label file is an accurate representation of the product label. A common mistake I note among importers is to merely list the information the supplier must include (e.g. country of origin).

    Another option is to hire a freelancer to do it for you, but make sure that the ‘label information’ is correct.

    How do I make sure my factory gets the label right?

    The key is to verify that the product is correctly labelled before shipment to the United States. Product and packaging labels can easily be checked by your existing quality inspection agents, while also testing the product.

    Make sure the inspectors are provided with clear photocopies of the product and packaging labels, and report their findings accordingly.

    Keep in mind that it may not be possible to relabel a product with incorrect or missing labels.

    Can label the product once it’s imported into the United States?

    Relabeling products can in some cases be accepted, but it’s strongly recommended that it’s done while still in the factory. Assuming it’s even possible to relabel the product, it’s an expensive and time consuming process.

    Is the CE mark required in the United States?

    The CE mark is only applicable in the European Union and is therefore not required in the United States. That said, many products sold in the US carry the CE mark for the simple reason that international brands normally ensure compliance with product regulations in all major markets.

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