National Trading Standards – Online sales of age-restricted products

This guidance is for England & Wales

Selling age-restricted products via the internet presents particular issues and retailers must have effective systems in place for preventing sales to prospective customers who are underage.

This guide applies to all products that have age restrictions on sales, such as alcohol, tobacco, spray paints, fireworks, and video recordings and games.

Duty of retailers

It is the responsibility of retailers to ensure they do not sell age-restricted products online to people who are under the minimum legal age. This means setting up effective systems capable of verifying the age of potential purchasers to ensure they are above the minimum legal age to purchase a product. When making an assessment of such systems account should be taken of legal requirements to take all reasonable precautions and to exercise all due diligence to avoid committing an offence. These legal requirements are a retailer’s defence in consumer protection legislation.

Such systems should be regularly monitored and updated as necessary, to identify and rectify any problems or weaknesses in the system or to keep pace with advances in available technology.

There is no definitive answer as to what constitutes taking all reasonable precautions or exercising all due diligence. However, past court case decisions in relation to other areas of consumer protection have established that a retailer’s defence is more likely to fail if positive steps or precautions are not taken, resulting in a conviction.

Risk analysis, including the investigation of the options available to overcome risks, is required to identify and investigate what precautions and steps could be taken.

Checks unlikely to satisfy ‘due diligence’

Retailers should take positive steps to verify the age of the purchaser when selling age-restricted products. The following are examples that are unlikely to be enough to satisfy the requirements of taking all reasonable precautions and exercising all due diligence:

  • relying on the purchaser confirming they are over the minimum age
  • asking the purchaser simply to provide a date of birth
  • using tick boxes to ask purchasers to confirm they are over the minimum age
  • using a general disclaimer such as: ‘Anyone ordering this product from our website will be deemed to be at least 18’
  • using an ‘accept’ statement for the purchaser to confirm that they have read the terms and conditions and are over the minimum age
  • using e-payment services such as PayPal, Nochex or Worldpay. These services may require a customer to be over 18, but they may not verify a user’s age
  • only accepting payment by credit card. Credit cards are not available to under 18s but certain debit and prepaid cards are. Your payment systems are unlikely to be able to differentiate between the different types of card so it is essential that you have additional age verification in place

Young people will seek to challenge conventions and test boundaries. In the case of online sales, young people could potentially evade the stringent proof-of-age checks that are required on the high street unless retailers make positive checks.

Age verification checks

The following is a guide to possible steps and precautions that retailers could adopt to assist with age verification. However, it should be noted that these may not be suitable for some situations and retailers will need to assess what steps are suitable and appropriate to their individual circumstances. Retailers may be able to develop other methods of age verification.

Age verification concepts in a fast moving digital world are challenging in terms of effectiveness. No system is failsafe and any service that relies on remote verification has the potential for errors.

Many websites now require purchasers to register details or to set up accounts for future purchases, which means that age verification checks may only be required for the initial set-up of accounts or on the first purchase from the website.

Age verification on delivery

Retailers could use age verification checks at the point of delivery by ensuring that delivery drivers request valid proof of age to confirm that the purchaser is over the minimum age to buy the product in question. It should be noted that third-party couriers may not accept responsibility for age verification.

Online age verification checks

Online age verification software is available that makes use of various sources of information in order to verify both age and identity during the ordering process. These checks include using the electoral register and/or credit reference agencies. There are also businesses that offer online access to electoral register information, which could be used to verify a purchaser’s age.

Follow-up offline checks

In some circumstances, it may not be possible to verify a potential purchaser’s age to conclude an online order. It is there suggested that further checks could be carried out, such as requiring the customer to provide a valid / acceptable proof of age, which can then be appropriately checked.

Collect in-store

For some retailers that also have a high street presence, purchasers could view and reserve products online and then collect in-store, where age verification could be carried out by members of staff as with a normal face-to-face transaction.

Further information

It is the responsibility of the retailer to ensure that products are only sold to purchasers old enough to buy them. If there is any doubt the transaction should not proceed.

The above guidance is applicable to all products that are subject to age-restricted sales. These include alcohol, tobacco, spray paints, fireworks, and video recordings and games.

A PAS (publically available specification) has been published, which was developed by the Digital Policy Alliance and BSI (British Standards Institution). PAS 1296: Online age checking. Provision and use of online age check services. Code of Practice is designed to help traders, particularly those that conduct age checks or provide age check services, to comply with the law.

Penalties

Failure to comply with trading standards law can lead to enforcement action and to sanctions, which may include a fine and/or imprisonment.

Key legislation

Children and Young Persons Act 1933

Video Recordings Act 1984

Criminal Justice Act 1988

Children and Young Persons (Protection From Tobacco) Act 1991

National Lottery etc Act 1993

National Lottery Regulations 1994

Offensive Weapons Act 1996

Cigarette Lighter Refill (Safety) Regulations 1999

Anti-social Behaviour Act 2003

Licensing Act 2003

Fireworks Regulations 2004

Gambling Act 2005

Violent Crime Reduction Act 2006

Pyrotechnic Articles (Safety) Regulations 2015

PLEASE NOTE

The information is intended for guidance only; only the courts can give you an authoritative interpretation of the law.

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National Trading Standards – Leather Goods

This guidance is for England, Scotland & Wales

Any consumer product made of leather – for example, clothing, shoes, bags, belts, furniture, soft furnishings, and even equine equipment, such as saddles and bridles – is subject to controls on the chemicals that may be present as a result of the tanning process. Chemicals such as azo dyes, chromium VI and dimethyl fumarate (DMF) have previously been found to be present in leather goods and are now restricted under regulations due to the health hazards they pose to consumers.

If you are not the manufacturer or importer, you should check with your supplier that the products comply with the Regulations. This could involve asking to see test certificates, or auditing your suppliers if you are a large retailer. If you are a manufacturer or importer, you would normally be expected to have tested your products to ensure that they comply.

The legislation

EU Regulation (EC) No 1907/2006 concerning the Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation, and Restriction of Chemicals (REACH) regulates the use of azo dyes, chromium VI and dimethyl fumarate (DMF).

Anyone who supplies consumer leather products intended to come into direct and prolonged contact with the skin, and that may contain any of these chemicals, will be affected by the Regulation. Examples are as follows:

  • clothing
  • hats
  • footwear
  • gloves
  • wristwatch straps
  • handbags
  • purses
  • toys containing leather
  • furniture
  • soft furnishings
  • equine equipment, such as saddles and bridles

Azo dyes, chromium VI & dimethyl fumarate

Azo dyes are organic compounds. Azo dyes are used to treat textiles, leather articles and some foods. Some – such as dinitroanline orange, ortho nitroaniline orange, or pigment orange 1, 2, and 5 – are mutagenic and carcinogenic. Azo dyes derived from benzidine are carcinogens.

Tanning is the process of making raw hides or skins into leather. The majority of leathers used in furniture, gloves and footwear are tanned using chromium salts. Contact with the skin can cause burns and contact-dermatitis allergic reactions, which appear as reddening of the skin, itching and rashes.

Chromium VI is a skin sensitiser; future reactions can be caused when only a very small amount is in contact with the skin. There are also dangers from ingestion. This is a particularly important hazard to assess for young children’s toys or clothing where there is a risk of mouthing. Studies have shown the ingestion of chromium VI may affect the liver, kidneys and the immune system.

DMF is used as a biocide in leather products, such as furniture or shoes, to prevent growths of mould during storage or transport in a humid climate. DMF has been found to be an allergic sensitiser at very low concentrations, producing an eczema reaction that is difficult to treat. Concentrations as low as 1ppm may produce allergic reactions.

Azo dyes in products

Azo dyes, which may release one or more listed aromatic amines above 30 mg/kg (0.003% by weight), must not be used in articles that may come into direct and prolonged contact with the human skin or oral cavity – for example:

  • clothing
  • hats
  • footwear
  • gloves
  • wristwatch straps
  • handbags
  • purses / wallets (including those worn around the neck)
  • briefcases
  • purses
  • leather toys and toys that include leather garments

Leather articles must not be placed on the market unless they conform to these requirements.

Chromium VI in products

Leather articles or articles containing leather parts coming into contact with the skin must not be placed on the market where they contain chromium VI in concentrations equal to or greater than 3 mg/kg (0.0003% by weight) of the total dry weight of the leather.

Dimethyl fumarate in products

Leather products containing the biocide DMF in concentrations greater than 0.1 mg/kg must not be placed on the market.

Second-hand leather goods

For products sold second-hand, the General Product Safety Regulations 2005 apply. These require goods supplied to be safe so the restrictions will still apply.

What should I do to make sure I comply?

If you are not the manufacturer or importer you should check with your supplier that the products comply with the Regulations. This could involve asking to see test certificates, or auditing your suppliers if you are a large retailer. How much you need to do depends on a number of circumstances – for example, the size of your business – but doing nothing will not be sufficient.

If you are a manufacturer or importer, you would normally be expected to have tested your products to ensure that they comply. It is recommended that a reputable test house should carry out any testing, such as one accredited by the United Kingdom Accreditation Service (UKAS).

Penalties

Failure to comply with trading standards law can lead to enforcement action and to sanctions, which may include a fine and/or imprisonment.

Key legislation

General Product Safety Regulations 2005

EU Regulation (EC) No 1907/2006 concerning the Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation, and Restriction of Chemicals (REACH) 

REACH Enforcement Regulations 2008

PLEASE NOTE

The information is intended for guidance only; only the courts can give you an authoritative interpretation of the law.

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National Trading Standards – Mini motos, off-road vehicles, etc

This guidance is for England, Scotland & Wales

Off-road vehicles – such as mini motorbikes, quad bikes and powered scooters – are popular as recreational vehicles for both adults and children. As a wider variety of vehicles have become available at affordable prices, concerns have been raised about vehicle safety and associated nuisance and anti-social behaviour.

When assessing the safety of a product a number of matters are taken into consideration and anyone in the supply chain, including retailers, can be held liable for the supply of unsafe products.

Traders should carry out basic checks on vehicles before supply, including checking the frame is not damaged, that nuts and bolts are secure, tyres are properly inflated, and steering is aligned. The vehicle sold must be of satisfactory quality, fit for purpose and as described. There are rules relating to the legal and illegal use of off-road vehicles, which should be passed on to the consumer.

Product safety

The law requires that any product sold to consumers must be safe. Products should not present any unnecessary risk to anyone when used in a normal or reasonably foreseeable way. When assessing the safety of a product, the following must be taken into account:

  • the packaging, labelling and instructions
  • the effect of the product on other products with which it might be used
  • the special needs of particular types of people, such as children

Where there are national, European or international standards relating to the product, these standards will also need to be taken into account.

Anyone in the supply chain, including retailers, can be held liable for the supply of unsafe products. In general, it is a criminal offence to supply unsafe products and you could also be liable to pay compensation for any injury or property-damage caused.

You should be prepared to carry out checks on the product and/or on your suppliers to ensure product safety. Doing nothing is not enough.

Special safety requirements

The CE mark is placed on a product by the manufacturer as confirmation that it complies with all the relevant safety standards

CE mark

Off-road vehicles are covered by the Supply of Machinery (Safety) Regulations 2008. They specifically exclude vehicles that are intended for use in competitions or on the road. Compliance with the health and safety requirements of these Regulations can be achieved by manufacturing to European or British standards.

The European Standard BS EN 16029: Ride-on motorised vehicles intended for the transportation of persons and not intended for use on public roads. Single-track two-wheel motor vehicles. Safety requirements and test methods is currently under review. This Standard could be taken into account when assessing whether the product complies with the Supply of Machinery (Safety) Regulations 2008.

All vehicles that are covered by the Regulations will need to be CE-marked and comply with the health and safety requirements outlined in the Regulations.

Particular safety concerns

As a retailer, you may not have the same degree of technical knowledge and expertise as a manufacturer or importer. However, you may be able to carry out certain checks on the safety of off-road vehicles. All off-road vehicles subject to the Supply of Machinery (Safety) Regulations 2008 must be accompanied by a declaration of conformity drawn up by the manufacturer. This specifies, amongst other things, which standards the off-road vehicle complies with. It is an offence not to provide the declaration of conformity with the machine.

Additionally, you should ensure that each vehicle is supplied with adequate written instructions. If you rely only on verbal instructions it will be very difficult to prove what you have said and your instructions may not reach the end user (if the vehicle is a gift, for example). If there are parts of the instructions that have a particular relevance to safety, you may wish to highlight them.

You should also examine each vehicle before you supply it and carry out basic checks – for example:

  • all fixings, nuts and bolts are correctly and securely fastened
  • the frame is not damaged
  • the condition and inflation of tyres
  • brakes are working effectively
  • no sharp edges and entrapment hazards
  • no leaks in the fuel system
  • make sure that the steering is aligned
  • ensure all hot surfaces, such as exhausts, are guarded

You may wish to offer advice on the appropriate safety equipment that needs to be used with the vehicle, such as a helmet and suitable clothing, and to offer to supply this equipment. Any such advice should also be included in the written instructions.

Under the Consumer Rights Act 2015, the goods you sell must be of satisfactory quality, fit for their purpose and as described. If a vehicle is intended to be ridden off-road, it should be sufficiently robust to provide a reasonable service life. A consumer might reasonably expect to replace some parts from time to time – due to ordinary wear and tear –  but they would probably expect the vehicle to be able to cope with rough terrain.

If a vehicle fails prematurely, the consumer may be entitled to claim their losses from the retailer. This could include a repair, replacement, full or partial refund and/or compensation.

If the manufacturer offers a guarantee, remember that this does not take away a consumer’s rights. Your consumer may still have a claim against you even after the manufacturer’s guarantee has expired.

llegal use of off-road vehicles: information for your consumers

Off-road vehicles cannot be used on the public highway. Furthermore, under the Road Traffic Act 1988 (and related legislation) motorised vehicles cannot be used anywhere off-road, except on private land with the landowner’s permission. This means that mini motorbikes and quad bikes cannot legally be used on pavements, footpaths or cycle paths; nor can they usually be used on parkland, common land or wasteland.

There are also provisions in law against nuisance, including noise nuisance caused by the inappropriate or illegal use of off-road vehicles. In some cases the police can impound and even destroy vehicles that are being used in an anti-social manner.

There are special tracks and facilities for off-road vehicle use, but your consumer may not live near to one of these, or they may find it difficult to transport a vehicle there.

Consumers may not be fully aware of the legal restrictions that apply to the use of off-road vehicles. They may well be disappointed if they buy a vehicle, expecting to be able to ride it on a local park or common, only to find out later that they cannot do so. It would therefore be advisable to check with your consumer, at least in general terms, that they understand where and how the vehicles can be used.

Under the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008, retailers are obliged to disclose information that might affect a consumer’s decision to buy, even if the consumer does not ask for it. You should therefore make it clear to prospective customers that the vehicle can only be used on private land, and then only with the landowner’s permission and if it does not cause a nuisance.

Trading standards services are aware of a number of cases where off-road vehicles have been badged with the name of a famous motorcycle manufacturer, even though that manufacturer had no involvement in their production. If you are offered the chance to supply such vehicles, you should make checks with the manufacturer’s UK representatives to find out whether the vehicles are genuine. If they are not, please report the supplier to trading standards; the products might also be dangerous.

Petrol cannot be sold to children under 16 years of age. If you are supplying a vehicle for use by children, we would recommend that you remind your customers of this.

Outside the scope of this guide

If you are importing off-road vehicles into the EU, to sell at retail or wholesale, you may need to take specialist advice from your local trading standards service.

Vehicles that are sold for use both on and off the road (such as some quad bikes) are designed to comply with the regulations that deal with the construction and use of vehicles on the road. To be used on the road, of course, the vehicles and riders will require the correct form of licence and insurance.

Penalties

Failure to comply with trading standards law can lead to enforcement action and to sanctions, which may include a fine and/or imprisonment.

Key legislation

Road Traffic Act 1988

Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008

Supply of Machinery (Safety) Regulations 2008

Consumer Rights Act 2015

PLEASE NOTE

The information is intended for guidance only; only the courts can give you an authoritative interpretation of the law.

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National Trading Standards – Labelling of Footwear

This guidance is for England, Scotland & Wales

Footwear must be labelled with an indication of the main material from which the upper, lining and sock, and outer sole are made in the form of either pictograms (symbols) or words.

The label should be attached to at least one item of footwear per pair and it may also appear on the packaging.

What do the Regulations cover?

The Footwear (Indication of Composition) Labelling Regulations 1995 apply to footwear of all descriptions ranging from simple sandals to thigh-length boots, with the exception of:

  • second-hand or worn footwear
  • protective footwear
  • footwear containing asbestos
  • footwear intended for use in play (for example, fancy dress) by children under 14

Who is responsible for the labelling?

It is the responsibility of the manufacturer or importer to ensure that footwear is correctly labelled and to supply accurate labels that are not misleading.

It is the responsibility of the retailer to ensure that the footwear they sell is labelled correctly, in accordance with the Regulations. It is therefore recommended that retailers have a system in place for checking footwear labelling before it goes on sale, and that these checks are recorded. Retailers can get information about the composition of footwear they sell from manufacturers or importers.

Labelling requirements

The label must state, in English or in a clear pictogram form, what material makes up 80% of:

  • the surface area of the upper
  • the surface area of the lining and sock (this means the lining of the upper and the insole, which constitutes the inside of the footwear article)
  • the outer sole

Where there are multiple materials used the two main materials in the composition of the footwear must be stated.

The label must be attached to at least one item of footwear in each pair and may be affixed by way of printing, sticking, embossing or use of an attached label; it must be visible, securely attached and accessible. The label may be on the packaging but it must also appear on the footwear itself.

If pictograms are used in a retail shop a notice must be displayed that explains to consumers what the symbols mean. The notice must be large enough so that the information can be seen and understood by consumers.

If pictogram labels are used where footwear is sold from a place consumers do not have access to (for example, mail order or internet sales) the consumer must be clearly informed of the meaning of the pictograms used.

Table showing the written indications or pictograms concerning the parts of the footwear:

Parts of footwear
upper: Footwear upper label
lining and sock: Footwear lining and sock label
outer sole: Footwear outer sole label

Table showing the written indications or pictograms concerning the materials used in footwear composition:

Materials used
leather: Footwear leather label
coated leather: Footwear coated leather label
textile: Footwear textile label
other materials: Footwear other materials label

Penalties

Failure to comply with trading standards law can lead to enforcement action and to sanctions, which may include a fine and/or imprisonment.

Key legislation

Footwear (Indication of Composition) Labelling Regulations 1995

Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008

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National Trading Standards – Toys

This guidance is for England, Scotland & Wales

There are a number of labelling requirements for toys, including the name and address of the manufacturer / importer, the type, batch, model or serial number, the CE mark, and warnings and instructions.

The Toys (Safety) Regulations 2011 set out the legal requirements for the safety of new toys supplied by a business. Toys are defined as “products designed or intended (whether or not exclusively) for use in play by children under 14 years old”.

Toys that are second-hand do not need to be labelled with the CE mark or the address of the manufacturer or distributor, but they must still be safe. The special warnings and instructions are required for both second-hand and new toys.

Labelling

All new toys that you supply in the course of a business must be marked with:

  • the name and address of the manufacturer, or if the manufacturer is outside of the EU the name and address of the manufacturer and the importer
  • type, batch, serial or model number
  • the CE mark

CE mark

The CE mark is a declaration by the manufacturer that the toy is safe.

These marks must be on the toy or its packaging and be permanent and easy to read.

On small toys these marks may be on:

  • a label attached to the toy
  • an accompanying leaflet

Warnings & instructions

Some toys must come with warnings and instructions about precautions that need to be taken to ensure safe use. Special warnings are required as follows (and where specific instructions are required, you should seek further advice or refer directly to the Regulations):

  • toys that are not suitable for children under three require a warning to this effect, plus the reason why – for example, choking hazard. This can be in the form of a pictogram or words
    Unsuitable for under-threes mark
    – this symbol should never be found on toys that are suitable for children under three, such as rattles, teethers and soft-bodied toys
  • swings, slides and similar toys require instructions for assembly and for periodic checks and maintenance
  • ‘functional’ toys (those that are used in the same way as, and are often scale models of, appliances or installations intended for adults) require the following marking: ‘Warning: to be used under the direct supervision of an adult’. They also require specific safety instructions and an indication that they must be kept out of the reach of very young children
  • toys containing inherently dangerous substances or preparations (such as chemical toys) require specific safety instructions, a statement of a minimum age limit for use and a statement that the toy is to be used under adult supervision. Where appropriate, additional requirements as to labelling and packaging may apply under EU Regulation (EC) No 1272/2008 on classification, labelling and packaging of substances and mixtures
  • toys such as skateboards or skates require specific instructions and the following marking: ‘Warning: protective equipment should be worn. Not to be used in traffic’
  • toys for use in the water (such as rubber rings) require the following marking: ‘Warning: only to be used in water in which the child is within its depth and under adult supervision’

Second-hand toys

Toys that are second-hand are covered by the General Product Safety Regulations 2005 – rather than the Toys (Safety) Regulations 2011 – and as such do not need to be labelled with the CE mark or the address of the manufacturer or distributor, although they must still be safe. The special warnings and instructions (see above) are required for both second-hand and new toys.

You are advised to only sell second-hand toys that are CE marked, contain any relevant instructions or warnings and have been checked for any obvious faults.

Your responsibilities

When you have reason to believe a toy is unsafe and presents a risk – for example, you receive a complaint that a toy has injured a child – you must:

  • inform trading standards and your supplier of the risk
  • withdraw the toy from sale, if appropriate
  • provide trading standards with information about:
    – the risk presented by the toy
    – the non-compliance in question
    – any actions taken

Your local trading standards service may request cooperation in relation to any action undertaken.

You must ensure that whilst a toy is under your responsibility the conditions under which it is stored or transported will not jeopardise the toy’s safety.

Finally, for a period of 10 years, you must be able to identify the business that supplied you with the toy (in other words, you need to keep invoices etc).

Penalties

Failure to comply with trading standards law can lead to enforcement action and to sanctions, which may include a fine and/or imprisonment.

Key legislation

General Product Safety Regulations 2005

EU Regulation (EC) No 1272/2008 on classification, labelling and packaging of substances and mixtures

Toys (Safety) Regulations 2011

PLEASE NOTE

The information is intended for guidance only; only the courts can give you an authoritative interpretation of the law.

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National Trading Standards – Safety of products: due diligence

This guidance is for England, Scotland & Wales

If you are a wholesaler or retailer the steady rise in counterfeit and illegal products available in the UK makes purchasing products increasingly complex.

The implications of purchasing or supplying products that are unsafe are far reaching and in some cases the results can be fatal. With this in mind how can you be sure that products are what they say they are and do what they say they can do?

Many consumer protection laws include ‘strict liability’ offences where it does not matter that the person accused did not intend to break the law. In order to create a balance of fairness specific due diligence defences are normally included in strict liability consumer protection laws.

To use this defence a person must prove that they took all reasonable precautions and exercised all due diligence to avoid an offence being committed.

Due diligence principles

These broad principles have been drawn from past views of the courts on what due diligence involves:

  • sitting back and doing nothing is unlikely to enable a person to create a defence
  • the nature of the necessary action will depend upon the individual circumstances
  • taking reasonable steps or precautions involves setting up a system of control that has regard to the risks involved
  • all reasonable steps or precautions should be taken; the defence fails where there was a reasonable step or precaution that could have been taken but was not
  • what is reasonable depends on the particular circumstances; one factor will be size of the business concerned
  • the control system must cover all aspects of the business affected by the legislation
  • due diligence means ensuring the proper operation of the system
  • the operation of the system should be kept under review and be amended as necessary

Any due diligence system should be written down so that it can be followed and any issues raised should be coordinated in one department or section, or by one person who has overall responsibility for the system.

A formal quality management system, though only mandatory where you manufacture products such as gas appliances, electrical appliances, cosmetics or personal protective equipment, may be of value in supporting a defence of due diligence. Further advice on quality management systems is available from the Association of British Certification Bodies.

To reduce the risk of purchasing unsafe products always buy from a reputable source and follow the golden rule: if it looks too good to be true, take extra care.

CE marking

There is a legal requirement for certain products to be marked with this when placed on the market in the European Union (EU). CE marking is a key indicator of a product’s compliance with EU legislation and enables the free movement of products within the European market. By affixing the CE mark on a product a manufacturer is declaring conformity with all of the legal requirements to achieve CE marking. This may mean that there are more than one set of legal requirements that apply to a product.

CE marking may be achieved in two different ways:

  • examination by notified conformity assessment bodies. This means that the manufacturer must use a notified body (such as BSI – the British Standards Institution) to test or review the product to enable the application of the CE mark
  • self-declaration. This does not require any independent testing or review and it is therefore the manufacturer’s own statement that they believe the product meets the relevant regulations

It is the manufacturer’s responsibility to carry out the conformity assessment, to set up the technical file (including test reports and risk assessments), to issue the EC declaration of conformity and to affix the CE mark. There is no visual difference between a mandatory or self-declared CE mark and so a small business or consumer cannot tell whether the product has been tested or not. Therefore distributors must take care and must verify the presence of both the CE mark and the necessary supporting documentation.

CE mark

If a product requires a CE mark but does not have one, it is illegal to place it on the market in any of the EU member states, including the UK. However, do remember that not all products sold in the EU need to bear CE marking, so distributors must have a basic knowledge of the legal requirements. You should know what products must bear the CE mark and the accompanying documents required and should be able to identify products that are clearly not in compliance.

More information about CE marking is available on the GOV.UK website.

Test reports

So how do you, as a distributor, know that the CE mark has been affixed correctly or that the item is safe to be sold in Europe? A formal test report is the best way to verify compliance to a safety standard. There are three basic types of report available:

  • an in-house report, which means the product was tested by the manufacturer
  • a third party report, which means the product was tested by someone else
  • a third party test report issued by an accredited laboratory

All three of these are valid methods of demonstrating safety. However, the accredited test report gives a far higher degree of confidence that the tests have been carried out correctly by competent laboratory staff.

Schemes such as the Kitemark certification can demonstrate that the product has met the applicable standard and that the manufacturer has effective quality control processes in place. In addition both the factory and the product are audited on an ongoing basis to ensure the products that have the mark are safe.

To meet your due diligence requirements:

  • buy from a reputable supplier and always obtain an invoice
  • make sure the product / packaging is marked with the name and address of the manufacturer or importer
  • keep all invoices
  • ask to see proof that the product is safe (a test certificate or declaration of conformity)
  • inform your supplier about any safety complaints you receive about the product

Key legislation

Consumer Protection Act 1987

General Product Safety Regulations 2005

PLEASE NOTE

The information is intended for guidance only; only the courts can give you an authoritative interpretation of the law.

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National Trading Standards – Electrical Products

This guidance is for England, Scotland & Wales

Electrical equipment designed for use between 50-1,000 volts AC or 75-1,500 volts DC must be safe, constructed in accordance with principles constituting good engineering practice and conform to specific regulatory safety objectives.

If the electrical equipment complies with a harmonised European standard, it is automatically taken to be safe. There are specific requirements for the manufacturer of the product, including affixing the CE mark, drawing up and holding an EC declaration of conformity, and keeping technical information for inspection purposes.

Electrical equipment is required to comply with the Electrical Equipment (Safety) Regulations 2016. The Regulations therefore apply to electrical equipment that is designed to be connected to a domestic mains electricity supply, as well as to some industrial equipment.

Components of electrical equipment are also covered if they are to be supplied as separate items.

Second-hand items (including items for hire and equipment supplied as part of a furnished accommodation) are required to satisfy the principal elements of the safety objectives only. They are not required to be CE marked etc.

Principal safety objectives

Electrical equipment must:

  • be constructed in such a way to ensure that it can be used safely and for the purpose that it was made
  • be in conformity with the safety objectives contained in Part 2 of and Schedules 1 and 2 to the Regulations, including:
    – being marked in accordance with the requirements set out below so that it can be easily traced
    – designed so that the equipment, including its component parts, can be safely and properly assembled and connected
    – instructions and information required for the equipment to be used safely must be marked on the equipment or in an accompanying notice
    – operate at a safe temperature with no dangerous arcing or radiation
    – have adequate insulation for foreseeable conditions
    – have the right technical information available, demonstrating compliance with CE marking requirements and a ‘declaration of conformity’

Satisfying the principal safety objectives

Manufacturers must have adequate internal production control (quality assurance) as a means of satisfying conformity, achieved through taking responsibility for the technical documentation and monitoring manufacturing processes. Either the manufacturer or (by written mandate) the authorised representatives should draw up a declaration of conformity in accordance with Schedule 8 to the Regulations and apply the CE mark (as below).

If the electrical equipment complies with a harmonised European standard, there is a presumption that it meets the principal safety objectives. If there is no relevant harmonised European standard, compliance with international standards will be sufficient. If there are no relevant international standards, compliance with a national standard will be sufficient provided that standard includes everything in the principal safety objectives.

Labelling & records

A manufacturer or their authorised representative within the European Economic Area (EEA) must do the following.

Ensure that the electrical equipment bears a type, batch or serial number or other element allowing its identification.

Indicate on the electrical equipment the manufacturer’s name, registered trade name or registered trade mark and the postal address at which they can be contacted. If it is not possible to indicate these on the equipment itself, then it may be indicated on the product packaging or accompanying documents. These have to be legible and easily understood by the end users and market surveillance authorities. In the UK it must be in English.

Affix a CE mark to the equipment, the packaging, instruction sheet or guarantee certificate. The CE mark is a declaration that the equipment complies with the Regulations.

CE mark

Draw up and hold an ‘EC declaration of conformity’, which should contain:

  • product model, type, batch or serial number(s) to which the declaration of conformity applies (for traceability purposes)
  • the name and address of the manufacturer or their authorised representative
  • a description of the electrical equipment (may include a colour image where necessary for the identification of the electrical equipment)
  • a reference to the harmonised standards used to assess compliance (if no harmonised standard, then a reference to other specifications)
  • identification of the person who will enter into commitments on behalf of the manufacturer or authorised representative (if appropriate)
  • the place and date of issue

Compile and hold technical documentation, which should contain:

  • a general description of the electrical equipment
  • the conceptual design, manufacturing drawings, details of components, etc along with information to help interpretation of these
  • a list of the standards with which the electrical equipment complies; or, if standards were not used, a description of what has been done to ensure compliance with the general safety requirement
  • results and reports of tests, examinations, calculations, etc

Obligations of importers & distributors

Importers must not place any electrical equipment on the market unless they have assurances that it complies with the principal safety objectives and ensure that the manufacturers have met all their obligations in relation to conformity assessment procedures, technical documentation, CE marking and labelling requirements. This must be made available to an enforcing authority on request.

Importers must also indicate on the electrical equipment their name or registered trade mark and a postal address at which they can be contacted. If it is not possible to put all the information on the equipment itself, importers can put their full name or trademark and details on the packaging instead.

Distributors have a responsibility to ensure that instructions and safety information accompany the electrical equipment before placing it on the market. They must also check with the importer that the manufacturer of the electrical equipment has met their obligations with regard to the labelling requirements. Distributors must check that the electrical equipment bears a label that correctly identifies the importer.

Obligations of manufacturers & importers

Manufacturers and importers have additional obligations; they must:

  • carry out sample testing of electrical equipment made available on the market
  • investigate and keep a register of complaints, of non-conforming electrical equipment and electrical equipment recalls
  • keep distributors informed of any such monitoring

Who should keep the documentation?

The declaration of conformity and the technical documentation must be kept and be available for inspection by enforcement bodies (including trading standards) by:

  1. the manufacturer, if they are in the EEA
  2. their authorised representative, if they are outside the EEA
  3. if neither of the above, the importer into the EEA

These must be kept for a period of 10 years beginning on the day on which the electrical equipment is placed on the market.

Safe connection for domestic electrical equipment

If the electrical equipment is a plug-in device (such as a charger) intended to be connected, without the use of a mains lead or plug, directly to the United Kingdom public electricity supply via a socket outlet conforming to BS 1363: A plugs, socket-outlets, adaptors and connection units, the economic operator must ensure that the plug-in device is compatible with socket outlets conforming to BS 1363.

Where the electrical equipment has a flexible lead and plug assembly, such as a vacuum cleaner, and is intended to be connected to the United Kingdom public electricity supply by means of a socket outlet conforming to BS 1363, the economic operator must ensure that that plug is a correctly fitted standard plug fitted with a BS 1362 fuse, or is a correctly fitted non-UK plug conforming to the safety provisions of IEC 884-1 and correctly fitted with a compatible conversion plug.

Other CE-marking regulations that may apply

  • Medical Devices Regulations 2002 (further information is available from the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency, telephone 020 3080 6000)
  • Supply of Machinery (Safety) Regulations 2008
  • Toys (Safety) Regulations 2011 (also contain a general safety requirement)
  • Electromagnetic Compatibility Regulations 2016 (contain provisions prohibiting electromagnetic emissions from electrical equipment interfering with the operation of other equipment)
  • Radio Equipment Regulations 2017

Penalties

Failure to comply with trading standards law can lead to enforcement action and to sanctions, which may include a fine and/or imprisonment.

Key legislation

Medical Devices Regulations 2002

Supply of Machinery (Safety) Regulations 2008

Toys (Safety) Regulations 2011

Electrical Equipment (Safety) Regulations 2016

Electromagnetic Compatibility Regulations 2016

Radio Equipment Regulations 2017

PLEASE NOTE

The information is intended for guidance only; only the courts can give you an authoritative interpretation of the law.

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National Trading Standards – Tobacco & nicotine inhaling products

This guidance is for England

Certain products cannot be sold to persons below a legal minimum age; for tobacco and nicotine inhaling products this legal minimum age is 18.

A packet of cigarettes must contain a minimum of 20 cigarettes and must only be sold in its original packaging. A notice must be displayed stating ‘It is illegal to sell tobacco products to anyone under the age of 18’.

Tobacco products must not be on display in-store and there are also restrictions on how prices and price lists are displayed.

Young people should always be asked for proof of their age.

What is meant by tobacco, tobacco products & nicotine inhaling products?

‘Tobacco’ is defined as including cigarettes, any product containing tobacco for oral or nasal use (for example, snuff) and smoking mixtures used as a substitute for tobacco (for example, herbal cigarettes). ‘Cigarettes’ include cut tobacco rolled up in paper, tobacco leaf and other material in a form that is capable of being immediately used for smoking.

A ‘tobacco product’ is defined as “a product consisting wholly or partly of tobacco and intended to be smoked, sniffed, sucked or chewed”.

A ‘nicotine inhaling product’ means a nicotine inhaling device (used to inhale nicotine through a mouth piece), nicotine cartridge (contains nicotine and forms part of a nicotine inhaling device) or nicotine refill substance (generally known as e-liquid). Nicotine inhaling devices are commonly referred to as ‘e-cigarettes’ and the law covers both disposable and rechargeable types.

Age restriction on the sale of tobacco products

The law states that it is an offence for any person to sell any tobacco products (including cigarette papers) to a person under 18, whether or not it was for their own use. This is a strict liability offence, which means the owner of the business can be held responsible as well as the member of staff who made the sale. If you are charged with this offence, you have the defence that you took all reasonable precautions and exercised all due diligence to avoid committing the offence. This is commonly known as the ‘due diligence’ defence. The ‘Keeping within the law’ section of this guide includes steps that can be taken to provide a ‘due diligence’ defence.

You must display a notice that states:

IT IS ILLEGAL TO SELL 
TOBACCO PRODUCTS 
TO ANYONE UNDER
THE AGE OF 18

The notice must be displayed in a prominent position and be easily visible at the point of sale. The notice must be no less than 297 mm x 420 mm (A3) and the characters must be no less than 36 mm in height. Your local trading standards service or your tobacco supplier may be able to provide a notice for you to use. It is an offence if you do not have the required notice on display, although the ‘due diligence’ defence is available to you.

Age restriction on the sale of nicotine inhaling products

A person who sells a nicotine inhaling product to someone under 18 commits an offence. This is a strict liability offence; the owner of the business can be held responsible as well as the member of staff who made the sale.

There is an exception for nicotine inhaling products that are licensed as medicines or medical devices. This exemption only applies to the extent to which the product is authorised.

If you sell e-cigarettes and associated devices you might want to display a poster advising customers that you will not sell to under-18s:

If I sell e-cigarettes or
nicotine refills to
people under 18 …
TRADING STANDARDS
WILL PROSECUTE ME

Note: unlike the tobacco poster, this is NOT a legal requirement and is simply suggested wording.

Age of the person making the sale

If you employ children in your business, it is not illegal for them to sell tobacco products, provided of course that the customer is not under 18. However, leaving unsupervised children selling tobacco is not recommended as they may find it difficult to refuse customers in their own age group.

Persistent sales to under-18s

If you are convicted of selling tobacco or nicotine inhaling products to persons under 18, and at least two other offences occurred in the preceding two years relating to the same premises, trading standards can make an application to a Magistrates’ Court for a restricted premises order and/or a restricted sales order.

A restricted premises order prohibits the sale from the premises of any tobacco, cigarette papers or nicotine inhaling products to any person, by you or any of your staff for a period of up to one year. You are entitled to make representations to the court as to why they should not grant the order.

A restricted sales order prohibits a specified person who has been convicted of a tobacco or nicotine offence from selling any tobacco, cigarette papers or nicotine inhaling products to any person and from having any management function related to the sale of tobacco, cigarette papers or nicotine inhaling products for a period of up to one year.

Offences are committed if a person sells tobacco, cigarette papers or nicotine inhaling products when a restricted premises order is in place or if a person fails to comply with a restricted sales order.

Proxy purchase of tobacco & nicotine inhaling products

An adult who buys or attempts to buy tobacco, cigarette papers or nicotine inhaling products on behalf of someone under 18 commits an offence. This is called ‘proxy purchasing’.

It is the buyer and not the trader who commits an offence under these circumstances. However, be aware of young people loitering outside your premises; they may ask adult customers to buy tobacco, cigarette papers or nicotine inhaling products for them. You may wish to refuse such sales.

Is it legal to sell single cigarettes?

No. A packet of cigarettes must contain a minimum of 20 cigarettes. It is an offence to sell cigarettes to any person other than in their original package. This means you must not split a pack and sell in lesser quantities.

Can tobacco be sold from vending machines?

No. Under the Protection from Tobacco (Sales from Vending Machines) (England) Regulations 2010, the sale of tobacco from an automatic vending machine is prohibited. If a sale takes place, the person who controls, or is concerned with the management of the premises where the automatic vending machine is located, commits the offence.

Any machines still on the premises can only be used for storage where the public do not have access to them (such as behind the bar) and must not display any advertising material.

Display & price marking of tobacco products

Under the Tobacco Advertising and Promotion (Display) (England) Regulations 2010, you are required to cover your display of tobacco products. It is an offence to display tobacco products unless a specific request to purchase tobacco has been made to you by a person aged 18 or over. It is NOT an offence to display tobacco-related accessories such as cigarette papers.

If you are charged with an offence where a requested display was to a person under 18, you have the defence that you believed the person was 18 or over and you had taken all reasonable steps to establish their age or from their appearance no-one could reasonably have suspected that the person was under 18. Taking ‘all reasonable steps’ means asking the person for evidence of their age and the evidence would convince a reasonable person. If you are charged with an offence of causing the display of a tobacco product, you have the defence available that you exercised all due diligence to avoid committing the offence.

There are also strict requirements relating to the manner in which tobacco products are price-marked, as set out in the Tobacco Advertising and Promotion (Display of Prices) (England) Regulations 2010; there are only three forms of lists and labels that are allowed (see paragraphs 49-62 of the detailed guidance linked to below).

There are specific rules for bulk and specialist tobacconists (see paragraphs 38-39 and 60-62 of the detailed guidance).

Cigarette lighter refills

Under the Cigarette Lighter Refill (Safety) Regulations 1999 it is an offence to supply any cigarette lighter refill canisters containing butane to anyone under 18. This is because of the potential for abuse by ‘sniffing’ the gas, which can be extremely dangerous.

Matches & lighters

It is not illegal to sell matches or lighters to children. However, it is recommended that you do not sell these items to children, who are unlikely to have a legitimate use for them.

Defences

If you are charged with any of the offences detailed above, you have the defence that you took all reasonable precautions and exercised all due diligence to avoid committing the offence. For age-restricted products such as tobacco this generally means that you believed the person was aged 18 or over and you had taken all reasonable steps to establish their age or that from their appearance no-one could reasonably have suspected that the person was under 18. Taking ‘all reasonable steps’ means asking the person for evidence of their age and that the evidence would convince a reasonable person.

Keeping within the law

In order to keep within the law and therefore satisfy the legal defences, you should introduce an age verification policy and have effective systems to prevent sales and display to under-18s. These systems should be regularly monitored and updated as necessary to identify and put right any problems or weaknesses, and to keep pace with any advances in technology.

Key best practice features of an effective system include:

Age verification checks

Always ask young people to produce proof of their age. The Chartered Trading Standards Institute, the Home Office and the National Police Chiefs’ Council support the UK’s national Proof of Age Standards Scheme (PASS), which includes a number of card issuers. You can be confident that a card issued under the scheme and bearing the PASS hologram is an acceptable proof of age.

A passport or UK photocard driving licence is also acceptable but make sure that the card matches the person using it and the date of birth shows they are 18 or over. Military identification cards can be used as proof of age but, as with other forms of identification, make sure that the photo matches the person presenting the card and check the date of birth. Be aware that military identification cards can be held by 16 and 17-year-old service people.

Some young people may present false identification cards so it is advisable to also check the look and feel of a card. For example, the PASS hologram should be an integral part of a PASS card and not an add-on.

If the person cannot prove they are 18 or over, or if you are in any doubt, then the sale should be refused.

Please see the Home Office False ID Guidance for more information.

Operate a Challenge 21 or Challenge 25 policy

This means that if the person appears to be under 21 or 25, they will be asked to verify that they are 18 or over by showing valid proof of age.

Staff training

Make sure your staff are properly trained. They should know which products are age restricted, what the age restriction is and the action they must take if they believe a person under 18 is attempting to buy. It is important that you can prove your staff have understood what is required of them under the legislation. This can be done by keeping a record of the training and asking the member of staff to sign to say that they have understood it. These records should then be checked and signed on a regular basis by management or the owner.

Maintain a refusals log

All refusals of tobacco and tobacco products should be recorded (date, time, incident, description of potential buyer). Maintaining a refusals log will help to demonstrate that you actively refuse sales and have an effective system in place. Logs should be checked by the manager / owner to ensure that all members of staff are using them.

Some tills have a refusals system built in. If using a till-based system, you should ensure that refusals can be retrieved at a later date. You should also be aware that some refusals are made before a product is scanned.

Till prompts

If you possess an EPoS system then it may be possible to use it to remind staff of age restrictions via a prompt. Alternatively, stickers can be used over certain product barcodes.

You should note that till prompts will not help you prevent offences under the Tobacco Advertising and Promotion (Display) (England) Regulations 2010 as the scan and prompt takes place after the display has been made.

Signage

You must display the legally required tobacco notice (see ‘Age restriction on the sale of tobacco products’ above). This should deter potential purchasers and act as a reminder to staff.

Closed circuit television (CCTV)

A CCTV system may act as a deterrent and reduce the number of incidents of underage sales.

Penalties

Failure to comply with trading standards law can lead to enforcement action and to sanctions, which may include a fine and/or imprisonment.

Key legislation

Children and Young Persons Act 1933

Children and Young Persons (Protection from Tobacco) Act 1991

Cigarette Lighter Refill (Safety) Regulations 1999

Tobacco Advertising and Promotion Act 2002

Protection from Tobacco (Sales from Vending Machines) (England) Regulations 2010

Tobacco Advertising and Promotion (Display) (England) Regulations 2010

Tobacco Advertising and Promotion (Display of Prices) (England) Regulations 2010

Children and Families Act 2014

Nicotine Inhaling Products (Age of Sale and Proxy Purchasing) Regulations 2015

Standardised Packaging of Tobacco Products Regulations 2015

PLEASE NOTE

The information is intended for guidance only; only the courts can give you an authoritative interpretation of the law.

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National Trading Standards – New Nightwear

This guidance is for England, Scotland & Wales

The Nightwear (Safety) Regulations 1985 make it an offence to supply some children’s nightwear unless it has been treated so that it conforms, after washing, to the flammability performance requirements of British standard BS 5722: Specification for flammability performance of fabrics and fabric combinations used in nightwear garments.

Note: this standard has been withdrawn by the British Standards Institution (BSI) but is still referred to in the Regulations.

The Regulations lay down labelling requirements so that purchasers can tell whether other nightwear – including adults’ – does or does not meet the flammability requirements.

Second-hand nightwear does not have to comply with these Regulations.

Children’s nightwear

Children’s nightwear means anything designed for wear by, and that would normally be worn by, a person under the age of 13 years, except:

  • night dresses with a chest measurement of more than 91 cm or a length of more than 122 cm
  • dressing gowns, bath robes and other similar garments with a chest measurement of more than 97 cm or a sleeve measurement of more than 69 cm

Children’s nightwear must comply with the flammability performance requirements of BS 5722, except the following items:

  • garments for babies up to three months old, with a chest measurement of 53 cm or less
  • pyjamas
  • cotton terry-towelling bath robes

Other nightwear

Other nightwear (including adult nightwear), babies’ garments, children’s pyjamas and children’s cotton terry-towelling bath robes must be labelled so as to inform the purchaser whether the item does or does not meet the flammability requirements of BS 5722.

If the item does not meet the requirements, it must have a label, printed in red, stating ‘KEEP AWAY FROM FIRE’. If the item meets the requirements, it must have a label with one of the following:

  • a statement in red text stating ‘KEEP AWAY FROM FIRE’
  • a statement in black text stating ‘LOW FLAMMABILITY TO BS 5722’
  • both statements in appropriate colours

Special rules apply to these items where they are advertised for sale on the internet or by mail order. If the item does not meet the flammability requirements the wording ‘KEEP AWAY FROM FIRE’ must be displayed next to the advert in a red-sided equilateral triangle. If the item does meet low flammability requirements the advert must show a green triangle with the words ‘LOW FLAM’ within it.

Treated nightwear

Any nightwear treated with flame-retardant chemicals must also have a label that states ‘DO NOT WASH AT MORE THAN 50oC. CHECK SUITABILITY OF WASHING AGENT’.

Positioning of labels

The wording described above must be given on a durable label on the inside neck of the garment or next to the label giving the size of the garment, or the wording must be given on the size label immediately following such information.

Safety standards

The General Product Safety Regulations 2005 also require goods to be safe. When assessing the safety of a product, manufacturers are encouraged to manufacture goods in accordance with European standards. The European standard BS EN 14878: Textiles. Burning behaviour of children’s nightwear. Specification contains flammability performance requirements for children’s nightwear. This covers all nightwear for children aged under 14*, including pyjamas, all dressing gowns, and babies’ garments, and introduces specific flammability requirements for these garments.

[*This is different from the age of 13 that is specified in the Nightwear (Safety) Regulations 1985.]

In principle, it is recommended that the requirements of the UK Regulations continue to be applied, where applicable. However, for garments such as children’s pyjamas and cotton terry-towelling bath robes and babies’ garments, the flammability requirements of BS EN 14878 should be applied so that suppliers meet the statutory requirements of the General Product Safety Regulations 2005 (GPSR).

The General Product Safety Regulations 2005 also cover second-hand goods, so again EN 14878 could be used to assess the safety of second-hand children’s nightwear. In common with other consumer products, these Regulations require the manufacturer to mark the product, or its packaging, with their name and address and the product reference or batch code (unless it would not be reasonable to do so).

In addition to the specific flammability requirements, nightwear must be safe in all other respects, such as avoiding strangulation, entrapment, and choking hazards caused by cords and fasteners and chemical hazards.

See ‘General product safety: distributors‘ and ‘General product safety: producers‘ for more information on the GPSR.

All nightwear must comply with the requirements of EU Regulation (EC) No 1907/2006 concerning the Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals (REACH) and therefore must not contain certain azo dyes and harmful flame retardants.

Penalties

Failure to comply with trading standards law can lead to enforcement action and to sanctions, which may include a fine and/or imprisonment.

Key legislation

Nightwear (Safety) Regulations 1985

General Product Safety Regulations 2005

EU Regulation (EC) No 1907/2006 concerning the Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals (REACH)

PLEASE NOTE

The information is intended for guidance only; only the courts can give you an authoritative interpretation of the law.

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National Trading Standards – Labelling of textiles

This guidance is for England, Scotland & Wales

The Textile Products (Labelling and Fibre Composition) Regulations 2012 require all textile products to carry a label indicating the fibre content, either on the item or the packaging. If a product consists of two or more components with different fibre contents, the content of each must be shown. Only certain names can be used for textile fibres and these are listed in the Regulations along with a list of products that are not required to bear fibre content.

There is a general obligation to state the full fibre composition of textile products.

What is a textile product?

A textile product can be defined in any of the following ways:

  • raw, semi-worked, worked, semi-manufactured, manufactured, semi-made up or made up products composed of textile fibres
  • products containing at least 80% by weight of textile fibres (including furniture, umbrella and sunshade coverings)
  • textile parts of carpets, mattresses and camping goods
  • textiles incorporated in, and forming an integral part of, other products where textile parts are specified

How should the product be labelled?

All items must carry a label indicating the fibre content, either on the item or the packaging.

The label should be durable, easily legible, visible and accessible. If the product is supplied to a wholesaler the indication may be contained within business documents – the invoice, for example. A textile product consisting of two or more fibres accounting for 85% of the finished product should be marked with the fibre followed by a percentage – for example, ‘cotton 80%, polyester 15%, nylon 5%’.

If a product consists of two or more components with different fibre contents – for example, a jacket with a lining – the content of each must be shown. Any decorative matter that makes up 7% or less of the product is excluded from the indication of fibre content. The word ‘pure’ should only be used where the garment is made up of only one fibre. The word ‘silk’ cannot be used to describe the texture of any other fibre – for example, ‘silk acetate’ is not permitted. Only certain names can be used for textile fibres and these are listed in annex I of EU Regulation (EU) No 1007/2011 on textile fibre names and related labelling and marking of the fibre composition of textile products(see link in ‘Key legislation’ below). This list may be updated as new technology produces new fibres.

If you are using, buying or selling a fibre product with a name that does not appear on this list, contact your local trading standards service for advice.

There are special provisions that relate to the required method of labelling of corsetry products, etch-printed and embroidered textiles, velvet and plush textiles (or textiles resembling velvet or plush), and floor coverings and carpets where the backing and pile are composed of different fibres.

Textile products in sold in multipacks – such as floorcloths, cleaning cloths, handkerchiefs, bun nets and hair nets, wash-gloves, face flannels, etc – of the same type and fibre composition may have inclusive rather than individual labelling. The full list of products to which this allowance may be applied can be found in annex VI of EU Regulation (EU) No 1007/2011.

Annex VII of EU Regulation (EU) No 1007/2011 contains information on textile product components that are not taken into account in determining fibre compositions.

Fur & other animal parts

Consumers must be made aware when textile products contain parts of animal origin, such as fur, leather, bone, etc.

The use of non-textile parts of animal origin must be clearly labelled or marked using the phrase ‘contains non-textile parts of animal origin’. The label can contain further information on the parts of animal origin – such as mink fur or lambskin – but the mandatory phrase must always be used.

This also means that any mis-labelling – for example, labelling real fur as faux fur – is an offence.

Additionally, it is an offence to sell, import or export cat and dog fur, and products containing such fur. Similar provisions apply to the marketing of seal fur (these are enforced by Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC) rather than trading standards services).

Advertisements, catalogues & e-commerce

Where products are advertised in such a way that they can be ordered by reference solely to the description in the advertisement, the Regulations require an indication of fibre content to appear in the advertisement. Advertisements include catalogues, the internet, circulars, price lists and trade literature.

Products that do not have to bear a fibre content indication

  • air-supported structures
  • animal clothing
  • artificial flowers
  • book covers
  • buttons and buckles
  • certain types of cordage, rope and string intended as components in other items
  • disposable articles (except wadding)
  • egg cosies
  • flags and banners
  • funeral products
  • gaiters
  • labels and badges
  • make-up cases
  • mobile phone and portable media player covers (with a surface area less than 160 cm²)
  • muffs
  • old made up textile products
  • oven gloves and cloths
  • packaging (not new and sold as such – for example, used potato sacks)
  • painted canvas
  • pin cushions
  • protective requisites of sport (except gloves)
  • saddlery
  • safety items (for example, life jackets, parachutes)
  • sails
  • shoe cleaning cases
  • sleeve protectors
  • sleeve supporting arm bands
  • slide fasteners
  • spectacle, cigarette and cigar, lighter and comb cases
  • stuffed pan holders
  • table mats having several components and a surface area not exceeding 500 cm²
  • tapestries, including materials for their production
  • tea and coffee cosies
  • textile parts of footwear
  • textile products for base and underlying fabrics and stiffening
  • tobacco pouches
  • toilet cases
  • toys
  • travel goods
  • watch straps

Further information

The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy has produced more detailed guidance on the requirements: Textile labelling regulations: Guidance on the Textile Products (Labelling and Fibre Composition) Regulations 2012.

Other legislation

In addition to the specific textile legislation, the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008 prohibit misleading actions and omissions when describing products and services, as well as misleading prices.

Penalties

Failure to comply with trading standards law can lead to enforcement action and to sanctions, which may include a fine and/or imprisonment.

Key legislation

Cat and Dog Fur (Control of Import, Export and Placing on the Market) Regulations 2008

Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008

Seal Products Regulations 2010

EU Regulation (EU) No 1007/2011 on textile fibre names and related labelling and marking of the fibre composition of textile products

Textile Products (Labelling and Fibre Composition) Regulations 2012

PLEASE NOTE

The information is intended for guidance only; only the courts can give you an authoritative interpretation of the law.

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