National Trading Standards – Labelling of Footwear

National Trading Standards

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


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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