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EN 71 & Toy Safety When Importing from China

EN 71

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EN 71 compliance is mandatory when importing toys to the European Union. Yet, many Importers fail to understand that EN 71 compliance is more complex than a printed CE mark.

In this article, we explain what EN 71 really is, and what you must do to ensure that your imported toys are compliant. The alternative is not an option.

What is EN 71?

EN71 is a set of European Product Safety standard that applies to all toys sold in the European Union.

EN 71, which is also a part of the CE directive, has been put in place to ensure that all toys sold in the EU meet certain minimum safety standards on the following factors: Continue Reading →

Electrical Safety Standards For US Importers: By Joey Kwok of CMA Testing

electrical safety

Today, US ecommerce companies and Amazon sellers, import electronics directly from Chinese manufacturers – without even having a basic understanding of product safety requirements and liability.

Electronics are high risk products. Reports of unsafe lithium batteries and chargers are frequent.

A major reason for this is the lack of information on what US electronics importers must do to ensure compliance. Believe it or not, but for many electronic products, there are not even mandatory safety standards.

Hence, many believe that they don’t need to care about compliance when importing power banks, or any widget that comes with an AC adapter.

That is not the case.

If, or when, something goes wrong – you will be liable. If someone is injured, or if property is damaged, you might be looking at millions of dollars in losses. It’s game over.

Instead, Importers and Amazon sellers must rely on ‘voluntary standards’ from UL and ETL, that are ‘de facto’ mandatory. At least for anyone who want to sleep at night.

These things are complex, but absolutely essential.

Luckily, we have worked with Joey Kwok Deputy Manager of CMA Testing in Hong Kong, and a leading expert on US electronic product regulations.

Notice: Be sure to read this one at least two or three times, and feel free to ask questions in the comment section below.

Joey, please tell us a bit about what you do at CMA Testing in Hong Kong

CMA Testing, is a well-known third party assurance body with rapid global expansion, specializes in testing, inspection and certification services.

Our worldwide networks have been spreading out rapidly to Asia, Middle East, Europe and North America.

Our compliance services cover toys, consumer electronics and electrical products, textiles & garments, materials, chemicals, food & food contact articles, furniture, cosmetics, pharmaceutical products, environmental and more. Continue Reading →

OEKO Tex Standard 100: A Complete Guide

OEKO tex standard fabrics
OEKO Tex Standard 100 is a standard used to check harmful chemicals and heavy metals in apparel and other textile products.

Many Importers are familiar with OEKO Tex Standard 100, but are still uncertain whether compliance is required by law, and how the entire certification process works.

In this article, we answer some of the most common questions clothing and textiles importers have about OEKO Tex Standard 100:

  • What is OEKO Tex Standard 100?
  • Is compliance required by law?
  • What is the difference between Standard 100 and REACH?
  • How do I find Standard 100 certified manufacturers?
  • How do I verify OEKO Tex Certificates?
  • How do I book lab testing?

What is OEKO Tex Standard 100?

OEKO Tex Standard 100 is an international lab testing and textile certification system, applicable to both fabrics and finished clothing.

OEKO Tex, which is an independent organization based in Switzerland, created the 100 Standard as a collection of several international regulatory frameworks:

However, OEKO Tex takes it one step further than the US and EU, as the 100 Standard also includes the following:

  • Important legal regulations, such as banned Azo colorants, formaldehyde, pentachlorophenol, cadmium, nickel, etc.
  • Numerous harmful chemicals, even if they are not yet legally regulated.
  • Numerous also environmentally relevant substance classes

In other words, OEKO Tex Standard 100 sets the bar higher than any government or state agency in the world.

For Importers selling in several countries and markets, ensuring OEKO Tex Standard 100 is simply a matter of practicality, as you can be sure that you match the highest standard there is.

Notice: REACH is an EU regulation, that restricts hundreds of chemicals and heavy metals in textiles, CPSIA, which is only required for children’s products in the United States, restricts lead content in textiles. Continue Reading →

Product Liability Insurance For Importers & Amazon Sellers

product liability insurance

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Product liability insurance for Importers (sometimes called Import liability insurance) can save you from financial ruin, in case your products would be the case of injury or property damage.

Falling back on your supplier is never an option, so get used to the fact that you will be on your own to deal with possible product liability claims in the future.

This is covered:

  • What is covered by a product liability insurance?
  • What is not covered?
  • For what kind of products is an insurance necessary?
  • Do I need a product liability insurance to sell on Amazon?
  • Can I get an insurance for the US if I sell in another country?

We also provide a list of companies offering product liability insurance products in the United States, the European Union and the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand and Canada.

What is product liability insurance?

A product liability insurance can protect your business against personal injury or property damage claims. If you sell a product that, for any reason, harms a customer or damage property, the insurance covers legal and court fees.

With a product liability insurance, you are unprotected. Injury or damage claims can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars.

It’s practically impossible to be completely certain that your products don’t pose any risk whatsoever to your customers – regardless of how many quality checks and lab tests you do.

These are a few examples what might go wrong:

a. Li-ion battery powered devices: Fire hazard, explosion hazard

b. Children’s products: Choking hazard

c. Furniture: Fire hazard

d. Apparel: Choking hazard

e. Food contact materials. Food and beverage contamination hazard

While T-shirts are much less prone to explosions, compared to high capacity power banks, the risk that you will face a claim is always present. Continue Reading →

Shipping Lithium Batteries From China: UN 38.3, Packaging & Labels

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Importing standalone lithium batteries, or Li-ion powered electronic devices, from China?

Then you might be aware of the strict and complicated safety regulations, covering labeling, export packaging and documentation.

However, you might still struggle to understand how you should go about to actually follow these regulations when importing li-ion batteries and electronics from China.

In this article, we cover the following:

  • What types of lithium batteries and devices are regulated?
  • UN 38.3 and other safety standards
  • Export packaging requirements
  • Documentation requirements
  • Lab testing requirements
  • Shipping lithium batteries by sea
  • Shipping lithium batteries to Amazon

Notice that IATA and air couriers update these regulations on a yearly basis.

However, you can safely assume that it’s not going to get any easier to transport lithium batteries and devices in the future. Continue Reading →

How to Write a User Manual When Importing Products to the EU: By Tom van de Wiel

tom manualise

Product manuals, or user guides, are not just ‘nice to have’. At least if you are importing and selling in the European Union.

They are absolutely essential to many product categories, as product manuals are mandatory.

I am aware of several cases, when the customs authorities have seized shipments, simply because the product was not bundled with a manual.

So, we decided to ask an expert, Tom van de Wiel, CEO of Manualise.

In this interview, with one of Europe’s leading experts in this area, you will learn the following:

  • What kind of products require a manual?
  • In which cases is a product manual not required?
  • What information must be included in the manual?
  • What can happen if I don’t have a manual?

Continue Reading →

5 Product Safety Misconceptions That Can Ruin Your Import Business

compliance misunderstandings

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Product compliance can often feel overwhelming. Certificates, laboratory testing and supplier background check. It makes your head spin.

Perhaps this topic is so overwhelming, that we simply refuse to believe that it applies to us and our products.

We want to believe that the supplier somehow got it figured out, or that the product is already approved by the customs in the US or Europe.

But exploding hoverboards and forced recalls are real.

So real that all importers, regardless of product category, can’t afford to make a single mistake when it comes to product compliance.

That’s why I decided to debunk the 5 most common myths about product safety, when importing products from China.

Let’s begin. Continue Reading →

Product Labeling Regulations in the US, EU and Australia

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About to import products from China or elsewhere in Asia? Then you need to ensure that the products are properly labeled.

In this article, we explain what every importer must know about labeling requirements in the EU, US and Australia.

We also explain why you cannot rely on your manufacturer to ensure compliance on your behalf. In fact, most of them don’t even know how products must be labeled in your market.

Keep reading, to ensure that your products are not seized by the customs authorities!

What is ‘Product Labeling Requirements’?

Most countries have legal requirements for how a product shall be labeled. A label can, for example, inform the customer about the following:

  • The manufacturing country
  • If the product meets certain legal safety requirements (i.e., compliance marks)
  • Size, material and other general product information
  • Warning labels and user instructions

Some labeling requirements apply to all, or a wide range of, product categories.

For example, all products in the US must be labelled with the country of origin (i.e., Made in China). In the European Union, many products must be CE marked.

Other labeling requirements apply to specific products. Examples include toys, electronics and textiles – each with their own set of unique labeling requirements.

Notice that labeling requirements are usually just one of many requirements that importers must fulfil to ensure compliance with certain regulations.

In addition, you may need to keep track of the following:

Technical Compliance: This means that the product is manufactured according to certain technical standards, or substance restrictions. The product is therefore able to pass the necessary tests.

Documents Requirements: The Importer is required to create and store a set of documents. Such documents may include circuit diagrams, component lists, design drawings and risk assessments.

It is important to underline that this article does not include information above the two points above. Continue Reading →

CPSIA – Importing Children’s products from China to the US

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The CPSIA (Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act) regulates all imported (and domestically manufactured) toys and children’s products in the United States.

In this article we guide you through the various aspects of the CPSIA, including regulated substances, ASTM standards, documentation, lab testing and CPSIA tracking labels.

We also explain what you need to think about when sourcing Chinese manufacturers of toys and children’s products – and why failing to secure compliance with the CPSIA is a recipe for financial ruin.

CPSIA regulated products

While the term “children’s product” might be rather vague, the CPSC determines any consumer product matching one or more of the following, to be classified as a “children’s product”: Continue Reading →

FDA Certification & Labels When Importing from China: A Complete Guide

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Planning to import kitchen utensils, food products or medical devices from China, and sell in the United States? Then you need to ensure compliance with all mandatory FDA administered regulations.

In this comprehensive guide to FDA regulations and requirements for importers, you will learn what you must know about FDA labeling requirements, premarket approvals, documentation and lab testing.

In addition, you will also learn how Amazon.com is enforcing FDA regulations, such as 21 CFR, and why you should not rely on your manufacturer in China to manage the process for you.

Which products are regulated by the FDA?

FDA, standing for the Food and Drug Administration, is a government agency, not a standard or regulation in itself. The FDA administers regulations that affect various product categories.

a. Food Contact Materials / Kitchen Utensils

The FDA administers 21 CFR, which regulates all types of materials made to be in contact with food and beverages.

21 CFR covers plastics, ceramics, coatings, glass and metal used in both food packaging and all types of kitchen utensils.

For example, food packaging and kitchen utensils may not contain toxic or harmful chemicals and heavy metals – or affect the taste and smell of the food or beverage.

21 CFR mainly concerns the substances used in kitchen utensils (both electrical and non-electrical) and food packaging. Continue Reading →