Importing toys - the basics
This advice is designed to provide basic guidance to traders. It is not a complete or authoritative statement of the law. Please note that some of the advice we provide to businesses is chargeable.
If you are thinking of importing toys into the European Community then there are certain requirements you must meet.
Toys must satisfy the essential safety requirements of the Toys (Safety) Regulations 2011. The European Standard, EN71 (Safety of Toys), is a means of testing compliance with the Regulations. Copies of the standard can be obtained from the British Standards Institute.
An importer must not place a toy on the market unless it will comply with the essential safety requirements during its foreseeable and normal period of use.
Duties to retain and provide information
For a period of 10 years after the day on which the toy is placed on the market an importer must:
- keep a copy of the EC declaration of conformity (drawn up by the manufacturer)
- ensure that the technical documentation can be made available to an enforcement authority on request by the authority
The technical documentation referred to above shall contain:
- a detailed description of the design and manufacture, including a list of components and materials used in the toy as well as the safety data sheets on chemicals used, to be obtained from the chemical suppliers
- the safety assessment
- a description of the conformity assessment procedure followed
- a copy of the EC declaration of conformity
- the address of the places of manufacture and storage
- copies of documents that the manufacturer has submitted to a notified body, if involved
- test reports and description of the means whereby the manufacturer ensured conformity of production with the harmonised standards, if the manufacturer followed the internal production control procedure
- a copy of the EC-type examination certificate (if applicable)
- Test report checklist
It is strongly advised that you get any toys independently tested. However if you intend on relying on a manufacturer's test certificate then it is important that you make a number of checks.
- Is it from a genuine accredited test house
- When were the tests conducted (check dates), if over 12 months then the relevance should be questioned
- The product description/photograph matches the actual product
- Current applicable standards have been applied including any amendments
- Have all relevant aspects of the standard been applied
- Does the test certificate relate to a pre or post production product (This may be difficult to determine)
- If further importations of the same product are made, ensure that no components or materials have changed from the original specification, otherwise the test certificate may not be applicable
If you have any doubts about the validity of the test certificate please contact your local trading standards authority.
- Toy labelling
Ensure the following are marked on the toy:
- a CE mark (it should be at least 5mm high and in the following format)
- The manufacturer’s name, registered trade name or registered trademark; and a single address at which the manufacturer can be contacted
- The importer’s name, registered trade name or registered trade mark; and the address at which the importer can be contacted
- A type, batch or serial number or other information enabling the toy to be identified*
* It is important the identification numbering allows a clear link to the relevant documentation, that demonstrates the conformity of the specific type of product.
Where the size or nature of the toy precludes the information from being marked on it, this information should be:
- marked on the toy's packaging
- or in a document accompanying the toy
Labels including the CE mark can be readily obtained from suppliers.
- Own branding
If a business 'own brands' goods it takes on the obligations of the manufacturer, and must complete and sign the EC Declaration of Conformity.
- Due diligence
Below are just some of the precautions we recommended you adopt to show you have exercised all due diligence to avoid committing an offence of selling unsafe toys. (The larger your business the more precautions you will be required to take).
- Do not simply rely on information or assurance from suppliers or agents
- It is important to ensure an adequate level of sampling and testing
- Sample the actual goods imported, not just a pre-import sample
- Ensure staff are fully trained on what checks to make on products and documentation, and what to do if inconsistencies are found
- Have written procedures for all operations carried out in the business
- Regularly review your quality systems and make improvements where necessary
- Keep records of any checks, tests, invoices etc.
- Keep up to date with changes in legislation that might affect your product
- Have plans and procedures in place so you can take action such as a product recall in the event of a serious safety problem with one of your products
- Consider looking at product recall websites (see links below), in case any similar products which you have imported, are recalled
If you discover that you have placed an unsafe product on the market, you are obliged to notify your local trading standards authority
- EC Declaration of Conformity - The Toy Safety Directive