Toys, or children’s products, are referred to as items designed for kids aged 12 or younger. When importing them, it is important to be aware of the wide 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. It is 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 specifically outline what testing a children’s product is subject to and what standards it is held to, 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.
- Evaluate each specific rule, by citing the specific regulation, that applies 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.
- Mention 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:
- Play yards
- Infant carriers
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 items must also meet standards set by the Small Parts Regulation, which is meant to prevent small children from inhaling or choking on small objects. It defines a small part as a whole product, or part of a product, that fits into a specially designed test chamber, approximately the size of 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
In addition to safety certifications, copyright and trademark infringement are important considerations when importing toys. When you import products that are protected by another company’s or individual’s copyright, you must provide a letter stating the license you are importing to Customs.
Customs officers check products entering the country for compliance with copyright laws. If the product is deemed to infringe existing copyright, it may be barred from entering your geographical boundaries.