If you are a supplier or distributor of promotional products, you must understand and comply with important federal consumer product safety laws, especially if you are promoting or decorating your products in a manner in which they appear to be designed or intended primarily for children 12 years old or younger.
Why should you comply with federal safety laws? Compliance is important: (1) to protect the safety of American consumers; (2) to protect your company, your brand, and your customers; and (3) because its the law. Failure to follow these laws puts you and your customers at risk.
In the promotional products industry, companies that traditionally import or manufacture generic products that are undecorated with logos or marketing are called suppliers. The companies that traditionally sell and deliver these finished products decorated with logos or marketing to final customers, usually businesses and organizations, are called distributors. Each party in the supply chain has important responsibilities. One very important responsibility is the duty that every party in the supply chain has to report to CPSC products that violate federal consumer product safety laws and regulations, products that have a product defect that could cause a substantial product hazard, or products that create an unreasonable risk of serious injury or death. Learn more at:
A childrens product is any item that is designed or intended primarily for children 12 years of age or younger. Childrens products have important safety regulations covering certain substances, such as lead, and, depending on the intended age of the consumer, a childrens product may have to comply with additional regulations addressing other hazards, such as small parts. Toys must comply with additional requirements.
This category of childrens products is particularly important in the promotional products industry. If, for example, a decoration is added to an undecorated item like a piece of drinkware, and the decoration is designed or intended primarily to appeal to a child 12 years of age or younger, the decoration can transform the product from a non-childrens product into a childrens product. Even though a change in artwork on the product may appear to a distributor to be a small change, the change could have important implications for the consumers safety and for a companys compliance with federal laws.
In determining whether a product is a childrens product, CPSC staff considers several factors, including a products marketing, the common recognition of the product as a childrens product by consumers, the manufacturers stated intent, if reasonable, and additional factors, as described at:
Importers and manufacturers of finished childrens products are responsible for complying with childrens product regulations. In the promotional products industry, the distributor, the supplier, or both, may be responsible, depending upon the business, legal, and practical arrangements of decorating, producing, and selling the finished childrens product. For example, if you are a supplier and import a finished childrens promotional product, like a toy car, you are the responsible party that must comply with the applicable regulations for that toy car. However, if you are a distributor and you at your clients direction direct the final production of a blank general use product into a childrens product (for example, through the addition of artwork designed or intended primarily to appeal to a child 12 years of age or younger), then you are the responsible party that must comply with the applicable regulations, such as any lead in the ink or paint used to decorate the product. The facts and circumstances of who in the supply chain finished the childrens product will dictate who the responsible party is. All parties in the supply chain should understand the requirements and work to ensure compliance with applicable federal laws.
You must have your childrens consumer product tested at certain stages in the process by aCPSC-accepted laboratoryfor compliance with certain requirements. What are those requirements? The requirements vary by product, by what age consumer the product is intended for, and by the materials used to manufacture your product.
Some of the key requirements for the promotional products industry are requirements for elements like lead in inks and paints used to decorate the surface of items. Separately, childrens products must comply with limits on the lead content in metal or plastic pieces, such as zipper pulls on items like backpacks or sweatshirts and the plastic in childrens toys. If you are screen printing childrens items, the screen print inks must be third party tested and must comply with certain requirements, such as lead content and, for items like toys, bibs, and sleepwear, phthalate content. And, if you are screen printing wearing apparel, the apparel must also be tested and must comply with flammability standards for wearing apparel.
Based on passing third party test results, you must certify your product as compliant by issuing aChildrens Product Certificate(CPC). The law requires that each import (and domestically manufactured) shipment be accompanied by the required certificate. Under CPSC regulations, an electronic certificate is accompanying a shipment if the certificate is identified by a unique identifier and can be accessed via a World Wide Web URL or other electronic means (provided that the URL and the unique identifier were created in advance) and are available with the shipment. You must also provide access to the CPC to the retailer, distributor, and to the government, although no government filing is required. See: more information.
Yes. A childrens product and its packaging should have permanent markings affixed, identifying the manufacturer, date and place of manufacture, and a tracking code, if practicable. Many promotional product manufacturers mark their products with a website URL that contains the tracking information and the manufacturers name; this is acceptable to the CPSC. Learn more at:
For more information on the requirements for promotional products, contact the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission:
Office of Compliance (for specific enforcement inquires): e-mail:; telephone: (800) 638-2772
Small Business Ombudsman (for general assistance understanding and complying with CPSC regulations): e-mail: Please use ourContact Form, which is the best way to get a fast response; telephone: (888) 531-9070.
This communication has been prepared for general informational purposes only. This summary document does not, and is not intended to, constitute legal advice nor does it replace or supersede a manufacturers obligations to comply with all applicable laws, regulations, standards, or bans enforced by CPSC. This communication has not been reviewed or approved by the Commission, and does not necessarily represent their views. Any views expressed in this communication may be changed or superseded by the Commission.
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