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.

Note that this article covers both federal and state-level labeling requirements.

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Country of Origin

The country of origin must be visibly printed on the product and packaging. For example, products manufactured in Vietnam should be labeled 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 take 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

CPSIA 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

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

Registered Identification Number (RN)

Manufacturers or importers can choose to use a Registered Identification Number (RN) instead of your company name on the product label. Applicants are required to submit the following information to the FTC:

  • Business email address
  • Legal business name/company name
  • Company address
  • Company type (ie. LLC, partnership)
  • Business type (Ie. importer, manufacturer retailer)
  • Phone number and website URL, if any

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 Labeling Requirements

FCC

The FCC compliance mark signals 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.

Note that the FCC logo is now optional for devices that must be authorized via the SDoC procedure.

General Requirements

  • Responsible party name (e.g. importer or manufacturer)
  • Responsible party address
  • Responsible party contact details
  • Product Model / Serial number
  • Compliance statement
  • FCC ID (if applicable)

FCC ID

An FCC ID label is mandatory for devices that are subject to the certification procedure. Manufacturers and importers must display the FCC ID on the product, in either physical or e-label form (for products that have a screen).

 

Products: Electronics

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

Bag Suffocation Warning

Bag Suffocation Warning labeling is required when selling products in certain types of plastic bags on Amazon, and also a legal requirement in California, New York, and other states. Note that the specific warning labeling requirements (e.g. the text printed on the plastic bag) differ depending on the following factors:

  • Size of the bag opening
  • Bag volume
  • Bag dimensions
  • Product type
Amazon Example

Warning: To avoid the danger of suffocation, keep this plastic bag away from babies and children. Do not use this bag in cribs, beds, carriages, or playpens. This bag is not a toy.


Products: Products packed in plastic bags

US Law Label

The law label is required in many US states for beddings, plush toys, bean bags, or other stuffed products. Its purpose is to inform the consumer of the filling materials, and the company selling the product.

Label Information
  • “Do Not Remove” Statement
  • Filling materials (Weight %)
  • Uniform Registry Number (URN)
  • Company Name
Uniform Registry Number (URN)

Note that you need to register to obtain a Uniform Registry Number (URN).

Products: Stuffed Products

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

ETL Mark (Intertek)

Intertek has its own compliance program called the ETL Certification program. Products that pass the necessary testing can use the ETL Mark, which signals compliance with standards in the United States and Canada.

The ETL Mark is therefore not mandatory but still recognized by consumers, retailers, and the authorities as a reliable compliance mark.

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 has 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 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 or Adobe Illustrator. 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 labeled 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.

  • (USA & EU)

    We Help Brands & Importers With Product Compliance (US & EU)

    • Product Requirements Lists
    • Product Certification
    • Product & Packaging Labeling
    • Lab Testing

    BOOK A FREE CONSULTATION


    Disclaimer: The content on this website is provided for general information only. The content includes summaries written by our team members based on publicly available information about product safety standards, labeling, documentation, testing, processes, and other product compliance related topics. However, we don’t guarantee that we cover every single relevant regulation/standard/requirement, or that the information is free from errors, or covering every single scenario and exemption. We do make mistakes from time to time. We never provide legal advice of any sort.

    Changes/Updates: Product standards and substance restrictions are subject to frequent updates and changes. In addition, new regulations, standards, and/or requirements may also become effective at any time. We don’t update our articles whenever new standards/regulations/rules are added or changed. We recommend that you consult a lab testing company or other professional to get the latest information about mandatory standards/regulations in your market, country, or state. Lab testing companies generally stay up to date on new and updated standards and regulations.

    National/State-Level Standards/Regulations: Many articles don't cover all European national and US state standards, regulations, and requirements. We recommend that you consult a testing company or other professional to confirm all relevant (and current) national/state level standards and regulations.
  • 19 Responses to “United States Product Labeling Requirements: An Overview

    1. amber at 10:41 pm

      I am a small business I purchased a private label product that just needs to be labeled which I did not do through the company to save on funds. on the label would I be required to put manufactured by the said company with their address then for with my business name?

    2. Julie at 2:47 am

      Hi Frederic ,I have question regarding product packaging , I have recently had a inspection , and the product witch is a set of baby clothing is packed in a clear plastic bag with suffocation warning on the multiple languages but does not specified were the bag was made ? Will that be a problem and What should I do ? Thank You !

    3. Tom Prevette at 8:54 am

      Fredrik,
      As a consumer, I understand products imported to the US must be labeled with country of origin. It appears that Amazon is a creditable enforcer of that requirement. However the country of origin is rairly ever indicated in the product descriptions on Amazon. If I go to a brick & motar store I can see the product label. Why are internet retailers not required to indicate country of origin in the product descriptions? I would definitely like to know the country of origin of a product before I buy. I would like to see this as an added requirement.

    4. Ross at 8:21 pm

      Hey Fredrik, love the site! Very helpful. We are looking to import cosmetic products to the US from the UK. Do you know if it is acceptable to leave our UK business address for this? We don’t have a US address. Thanks! Ross

      1. Fredrik Gronkvist at 10:59 am

        Hi Ross,

        I don’t think we can ever find a source stating if that is acceptable

    5. Equipment Manufacturer's Guide to Labeling - Metalphoto Of Cincinnati at 7:30 pm

      […] United States Product Labeling Requirements: An Overview (ComplianceGate) […]

    6. James Fantomas at 7:06 am

      Hello Andrew,

      We are looking to import herbal the from Asia to the US. We are looking for a Cie that can do our marketing and sell online, and eventually re-package (not re-label) into smaller Qantity to meet each customer ‘s demand (ex: from a large box of a 100 small box of 6 items, ship only 5), sell online, and also provide the customer support (ie: complains/ refund etc)
      Do you know any such Companies? I heard that some free zones do have such companies?
      Thank you

      Thanks in advance for your

    7. Udonis white at 3:49 am

      Hi Frederick,
      I’m planning to import a rag doll to import into the USA for our customers brand(fans). This is not really a toy for children but mostly for fans to collect the brand item. Can I mention “ This is not a toy in the labelin”?

    8. Matt at 4:04 am

      Hi Fredrik,

      I have “Made in China” under a barcode on the bottom of the packaging. I also want to add the prop65 warning to the bottom underneath this. “Made in China” is set to 6 pts. Can the warning also be 6 pts or does it have to be no smaller than the smallest of info on the packaging?

      Thanks!

      1. Fredrik Gronkvist at 1:23 pm

        Hi Matt,

        Not sure if there is any specific requirement concerning the font size but it must be readable

    9. Barbara at 3:10 am

      Hi Fredrik!

      I wanted to ask you if a device uses cell batteries, does it need to have the FCC mark?

      Also wanted to confirm if the CPSIA tracking label should be printed on the product or if it is ok to have it on the packing and on the product just the batch number. And if it has to be on the product, could it be with a sticker?

      And the last question is to confirm if we could use a sticker label for the legal information on the packaging. Scince we are exporting to different markets we would preffer to design just one packaging and use sticker labels when we need to specify some information.

      Thank you in advance!

      Kind regards,

    10. tony at 2:48 pm

      Does the CPSIA Tracking Label need to be printed on each unit if selling on Amazon?

      1. Fredrik Gronkvist at 3:02 pm

        Yes, if you intend to sell on Amazon in the USA.

        “Children’s products that are designed or intended primarily for use by children ages 12 or younger must have distinguishing permanent marks (generally referred to as “tracking labels”) that are

        Affixed to the product and its packaging and
        Provide certain identifying information.”

        Source: https://www.cpsc.gov/Business–Manufacturing/Business-Education/tracking-label

    11. raymond at 10:46 pm

      thanks, Fredrik, for your advice, that is great

    12. raymond at 10:52 pm

      Hi, Fredrik,

      how are you

      would like to ask a silly question, if mandatory labeling such as FCC CE etc. can be printed on a detachable sleeve wrapping around a carton box, but not printed on carton box itself.

      Pls advise

      1. Fredrik Gronkvist at 10:56 am

        Hi Raymond,

        Compliance marks must generally be permanently affixed. I think there is some flexibility when it comes to FCC symbols though.

    13. Andrew HAsson at 9:00 am

      I have some labeling questions on a new product that I am manufacturing in China. I want to make sure I have all the correct labeling on the packaging

      1. Fredrik Gronkvist at 11:36 am

        Hi Andrew,

        I suggest you try our compliance info tool: http://www.compliancegate.com/tool

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