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Importing Board Games Into the U.S.

If you are importing board games into the United States, you should be aware of these guidelines and regulations.

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Importing board games involves two types of requirements, depending on whether or not the game in question is meant for children.

If the game is explicitly marketed towards adults, the process is simple: With the proper code from the Harmonized Tariff Schedule (HS), a master list detailing the duties and taxes to be paid on all goods entering US ports, and the country of origin for your goods, you can estimate your rate of duty. Most board games fall under the code: 9504.90.6000, which is duty free. Then, you'll pay any applicable Merchandise Processing Fee (MPF) and Harbor Maintenance Fee (HMF), two common fees levied at US ports to assist with port upkeep and maintenance.

But if the games you’re importing are meant for children, other restrictions kick in. First, the code would likely fall under the 9503.00.00 heading, for children’s products. Secondly, there are additional regulations for children's products. But who decides what constitutes a children’s product (with all the regulations that entails) and what goes into making that decision?

What is a Children’s Product?

The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) has detailed the process it uses to determine if a product is directed towards children and so warrants extra requirements for their protection. Factors include:

  • The intended use of the product, based on the label and manufacturer’s statement
  • Whether product packaging or labeling indicates use by children
  • Whether the product’s manufacturer recognizes its use by children

If the game is designated a children’s product, a couple of extra requirements kick in. These requirements are detailed in the Age Determination Guidelines.

The Age Determination Guidelines detail the specifics for what kinds of testing procedures and safety standards children’s products must adhere to in order to enter the US market.

The CPSC also requires that toys, board games intended for children, and other children’s products be sent to third-party labs for testing, where they’re screened for lead, pthalates, and other harmful substances. A list of CPSC-approved labs can be found here.

Obtaining a Children’s Product Certificate (CPC)

Once your products have been tested, you must obtain a Children’s Product Certificate certifying that your goods meet all applicable safety standards. The certificate must:

  • Identify the product
  • Identify each rule applicable to the children’s product
  • Identify the importer certifying the product
  • Provide contact information for whoever maintains the product’s test results
  • List the date and place the product was manufactured
  • List the date and place the product was tested

In addition to the Children’s Product Certificate, the importer or manufacturer must have a tracking label. The label must be permanently attached to the packaging, and – where possible – the product itself. Requirements for the tracking label include:

  • Date and location of production
  • Batch, run number, or other identifying characteristics
  • An identifying mark determined by the manufacturer to help find the source of the product

More information about requirements for labeling children’s products can be found here.

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