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Importing Toys Into the U.S.

If you are importing toys or children's products into the United States, you should be aware that they are subject to strict safety standards.

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Toys, or children’s products, are defined as products designed for use by children aged 12 or younger. When importing children’s products, it is important to be aware of the wide-ranging and strict safety standards these products are held to. In general, all children’s products imported into the United States must be certified as meeting these standards in a Children’s Product Certificate. This certification must accompany products entering the US.

What is a Children’s Product?

The Consumer Product Safety Commission has outlined the process for determining whether a product qualifies as a children’s product. The Commission considers the following factors:

  • The intended use of the product, based on a statement made by the manufacturer and the product label.
  • Whether the product notes on its packaging and labeling as being for the use of children under the age of 12.
  • Whether the product is recognized by the consumer as being for the use of children under 12.
  • Where the product falls within the Age Determination Guidelines.

The Age Determination Guidelines outline specifically what testing a children’s product is subject to and what standards it is held to, in order to be certified as safe for sale in the United States. The Age Determination Guidelines can be found here: https://www.cpsc.gov/s3fs-public/pdfs/blk_media_adg.pdf

The CPSC requires toys to undergo third-party testing to determine whether the product meets safety guidelines. Among other things, these labs test for the durability of the products and the concentrations of potentially harmful chemicals such as lead and phthalates.

A list of CPSC-accepted labs can be found here: http://www.cpsc.gov/cgi-bin/labsearch/

You may view a summary of and purchase the toy safety standards book in its entirety from: http://www.astm.org/Standards/F963.htm

For reference, toys are officially classified with the HS Code 9503.00.00, under the U.S. Harmonized Tariff Schedule. They are generally duty free, though the Merchandise Processing Fee and Harbor Maintenance Fee will still apply.

Children’s Product Certificate (CPC) Requirements

Once the product has been tested, the importer must supply a Children’s Product Certificate, or CPC, which certifies that the product conforms to safety requirements. This certification must accompany children’s products entering the US. The CPC must:

  • Identify the product covered.
  • Identify each specific rule, by citing the specific regulation, that is applicable to the children’s product.
  • Identify the importer certifying the product.
  • Provide contact information for the individual maintaining records of test results.
  • List the date and place the product was manufactured.
  • List the date and place the product was tested.
  • Identify the third party testing facility upon whose testing the certification depends.

A full explanation and examples of Children’s Product Certificates can be found here: https://www.cpsc.gov/business--manufacturing/testing-certification/childrens-product-certificate-cpc/.

In addition to the Children’s Product Certificate, the importer or manufacturer must have a tracking label attached to the product. 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: https://www.cpsc.gov/Regulations-Laws–Standards/Rulemaking/Final-and-Proposed-Rules/Testing-and-Labeling-Pertaining-to-Product-Certification/

Toys for infants

Products meant for use by infants (under 3 years of age) and toddlers (under 5 years of age) are required to meet even stricter standards. Examples of these products are:

  • cribs
  • play yards
  • infant carriers
  • strollers
  • walkers

These products fall into several different subcategories, each with specific requirements. The categories and their testing requirements can be found here: https://www.cpsc.gov/business--manufacturing/business-education/durable-infant-or-toddler-products.

These products must also meet standards set by the Small Parts Regulation. This regulation is meant to prevent small children from inhaling or choking on small objects. The regulation defines a small part as a whole product, or part of a product, that fits into a specially designed test chamber that approximates the throat of a small child. If the part fits entirely into the chamber, the product will be banned as presenting a choking hazard. Further information on the Small Parts Regulation can be found here: http://www.cpsc.gov//Global/Business-and-Manufacturing/Business-Education/Business-Guidance/Small%20Parts/regsumsmallparts.pdf

These products must also include a postage-paid product registration card to improve recall effectiveness. The registration card should be attached to the surface of the product and should include:

  • The manufacturer’s name and contact information
  • Model name and number or other identifier
  • The date of manufacture

The card should also have space for the consumer to provide their name and contact information. The importer or manufacturer is also required to provide an option to register online. A record of those who have registered should be kept to notify consumers of safety issues or recalls.

A complete explanation of the requirements for product registration cards can be found here: https://www.cpsc.gov/Business--Manufacturing/Business-Education/Durable-Infant-or-Toddler-Products/Durable-Infant-or-Toddler-Product-Consumer-Registration-Cards

Other than safety certifications, copyright and trademark infringement is an important consideration when importing toys. When importing a product that has been copyrighted by another company or person, you must provide a letter stating your license to import to Customs. Customs inspects products entering the United States for compliance with copyright laws. If a product is considered to be infringing on an existing copyright, it could be barred from entering the United States.

Consult with your Flexport team if you are concerned about copyright issues. Always search the Customs IPR database to ensure your product is not listed.

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