All countries importing goods from China have certain regulations those products must meet before being sold. Sourcing Nova discusses some of those trade regulations for imported products for North America and the E.U. Continue reading to learn the why those regulations are important as well as different regulations for the specific markets.

In the previous article “How Do I Import Profitable Products From China,” businesses in different countries now can import products for sale from China. Before Sourcing Nova selects the manufacturers, we need to know what the regulations for imported products are in specific countries like the U.S. and the E.U.

Why are there so many regulations for imported products?

The European Union has specific laws, regulations and certification statuses for each type of imported product. The European Union is a pioneer in setting and enforcing new regulations. The lawmakers of each country in the E.U. are constantly developing new laws and regulations to protect the environment and citizens. The regulations on electronic products are the most stringent in the world. For example, the European Directive of Energy related Products, ErP, limits the energy consumption of imported electronic products to a certain range. This ultimately achieves the goal of reducing energy consumption and protecting the environment in the E.U.

Such import regulations on Chinese products are a big stumbling block. Manufacturers believe these regulations are conceived out of thin air by some so-called experts. The creators of these regulations have no knowledge of China’s manufacturing industry. These import regulations on products are too difficult to implement for some small factories. Small Chinese factories cannot be profitable if they want to follow these regulations.

A good example of the import regulations strangling small factories in China is traditional incandescent light bulbs, which have been banned in the United States and Europe since 2011. Incandescent light bulbs have been replaced with more energy-efficient LED bulbs. Recently there was a media uproar about a quote from President Trump who said, “I always look orange,” in reference to the LED bulbs. Large factories can adjust to changing import regulations on LED bulbs, but smaller factories struggle or stop manufacturing LED bulbs because of the regulations.

What if the factory does not meet the product regulations?

As a manufacturer, factories must follow the import regulations on Chinese products for the European Union and the U.S., but this is not an easy task. If a business wants to import from China, the business may be responsible for explaining the regulations on Chinese importation to a factory. Sourcing Nova can quickly exclude some factories and look for factory replacements that meet your country’s product regulations for import. New import regulations pass in the U.S. and the E.U., and Chinese factories may not be aware of the changes on these regulations. Experienced factories should know what common certificates are, know what the business needs and can take products to test according to requirements. The factory then provides a corresponding test report.

What products need to be certified before being imported into my country?

This depends on the type of product imported from China and the customs requirements of the U.S or the E.U. Common products that require certification are textiles, furniture, ceramics, electronics and food.

What products does the FDA regulate?

The Food and Drug Administration in the U.S. provides regulation for domestic and imported products that can come into direct or indirect contact with food and beverages. Businesses can tell from the name that this is a certificate required by the United States. The FDA is also called the USFDA, to include the United States at beginning, and the two names are used interchangeably.

What products does the LFGB regulate?

Lebensmittel- und Futtermittelgesetzbuch, or LFGB, is the European certification requirement for domestic and imported products that have direct or indirect contact with food, beverages and pharmaceuticals. The LFGB is stricter than the FDA on import regulations. This is the European Union’s redesign of a German food law, which came into effect on January 1, 2005. The law is sometimes referred to by its German abbreviation for the Food and Commodities Act.

LFGB covers all stages of production and processing along the food value chain. The regulation is applicable to all food and beverages imported except commodities such as feed and cosmetics. The highest priority is food safety. The manufacturer, trader or distributor must ensure the perfect quality of the products imported from China and elsewhere. All processing steps in agriculture are guaranteed by traceable products.

Why is the CE mark important for products in the European Union?

European Conformity Marks, CE mark is a certification indicating compliance with the health, safety and environmental regulations of domestic and imported products sold in the European Economic Area, EEA. Products sold outside the EEA, manufactured in the EEA or intended to be sold in the EEA also carry the CE mark.

For those unfamiliar with the European Economic Area, this makes the CE mark recognizable worldwide. In this sense, it is similar to the FCC Declaration of Conformity (to be discussed later) used on some electronic devices sold in the United States. The CE mark is a symbol of free sales in the European Economic Area (internal market).

What do the RoHS regulations cover?

Restriction of Hazardous Substances is an abbreviated form of directive on the restriction of the use of certain hazardous substances in electrical and electronic equipment. Adopted by the European Union in February 2003 and enforced as of July 1, 2006, the directive is a regulation on all products, domestic and imported, that every member in the EU must implement. The directive restricts the use of six hazardous substances in the manufacture of various types of electronic and electrical equipment.

What are FCC regulations for importing Chinese products?

Federal Communications Commission Declaration of Conformity and Certification procedures, is sometimes called FCC DoC, FCC Label or FCC Mark. This is a certification mark used on all electronic products, indicating that the electromagnetic interference that the device carries complies with the regulations and limits approved by the Federal Communications Commission.

FCC labels are found on products sold outside the United States because these products are either manufactured in the United States and exported, or the products are also sold in the United States. This makes the FCC label and regulation globally recognizable, even for those unfamiliar with the FCC name. Electronic products exported to the United States must be accompanied by the supplier’s certificate of compliance with the FCC mark.

Children ’s sleepwear flammability standards

In order to protect children from burns, import regulations on children’s clothing from China require that children’s pajamas must be flame retardant. If the flame of a candle, match, lighter or similar item causes a fire, the pajamas must self-extinguish.

The rule covers all children’s pajamas between 9 months and 14 months, and requires one (1) of the fabric and clothing pass certain flammability tests; or two (2) defined as “tight fitting” by specified dimensions.

Special regulations for toy safety

Toy safety is the practice of ensuring the safety of toys, especially toys made for small children, by applying established safety regulations. In the U.S. and E.U., commercial toys must pass safety tests and meet import regulations before placed on the market for sale. In the United States, some toys must meet national regulations, while other toys may not have to meet defined safety standards. In countries where import regulations exist, they exist to prevent accidents. No matter how carefully the toy is tested, there are still some high-profile product recalls. The danger is usually not caused by a wrong design in the toy itself. Usage of the toy and opportunity for accident also play a role in injuries and deaths.

What is the CAC

Codex Alimentarius Commission is the most important body for global food regulations, particularly food imported from China. It is a global reference point for food producers, processors, consumers, national food safety agencies and international food trade. Codex is jointly managed by Food and Agriculture Organization and World Health Organization.

Guide for Safe Machinery:

Please refer to for details on this regulation.

What is the COO Mark in shipping

Country of Origin Mark. Certificate of Origin is the country in which an article or product is produced or grown for import. There are different regulations of origin according to various national laws and international treaties of the receiving country. Sourcing Nova is familiar with most of the import regulations for the COO.

Regulation information required on the FPLA

Fair Packaging and Labeling Act. The Fair Packaging and Labeling Act is a U.S. law that applies to labels on many consumer products. FPLA requires the label to state the following: the identification of the product, the name and place of business of the manufacturer, packer or distributor and the net quantity of the content.

The product description must include both metric and U.S., imperial, customary units. Many countries in the E.U. have similar regulations that require special attention when importing products from China, such as the Canadian Consumer Packaging and Labeling Act and Regulations.

Consumer Packaging and Labeling Act and Regulations

This is a Canadian regulation that requires prepackaged consumer products with accurate and meaningful labeling information to help consumers make informed purchasing decisions. The regulation prohibits making false or misleading statements and specifies the specifications for mandatory labeling information. It allows designated inspectors to enter any manufacturing location at any reasonable time, inspect pre-packaged products, unpack, inspect and make documents or copies of documents. Inspectors have the right to seize products, labels, packaging or advertising materials that are inconsistent with the Act and regulations.

Know the laws and regulations for your country

Before importing products from China, buyers need to know as much as possible about the regulations of the country of import. In most cases, experienced factories will do the necessary certification for their products, so importers only need to ask them for a copy, but this is only true for ODM products.

If the product is OEM and designed by the importer or a product with a private label, the business may need to pay for certification. In this case, each certification will contain detailed information about the product, including the product picture on the certification. Even if the raw materials used by the factory are the same, your certification may not be recognized by the customs of the importing country. If your product does not have a relevant certificate, customs will hold your product, send them back to the country of export, confiscate and destroy those products. As a business owner, this is certainly not something you want to have happen to your products imported from China.

According to the industry attributes and inspection scope of the product, one inspection content will cost about $100.00 dollars. If the inspection content is large, a product certificate may easily cost you hundreds of dollars. This is something to take into consideration before placing an order as this will affect your bottom line.

Check regulation certification validity

Product certificates have validity periods. You need to ensure that the product is still within the validity period. If the certificate has expired, you need to remind the factory to prepare a new certificate or pay a third party company to prepare it on your behalf.

It is important to note some small factories may use Photoshop software to modify valifity certificates. These factories may not want to spend money for certification, or they may be too late for delivery. If you do not understand the identification of the certification, you can send the certificate to a third party inspection company to check the authenticity. If you have a good relationship with the third party inspection company, this usually will not incur a fee.

How do you understand the product rules of a new industry?

If you (the importer) are not familiar with the Chinese import product industry, you may not know what quality and legal requirements your country has for importing such products.

What if you do not know your country’s import regulations? There are three ways to educate yourself:

  1. Open Alibaba, GlobalSource or Made-In-China. Search for the product you want to import. If a product certificate appears multiple times in the product list, this indicates that the industry may have mandatory regulations for the certificate. You can send an email to the top ten exporters for further recognition.

Common certificates are CE, RoHS, FDA, FCC, REACH, LFGB, ErP, GS certification and so on. It is beneficial to indicate in your product description the certifications you can provide to the customer, as noting these certifications can improve your overall marketing effectiveness.

  1. Consult your customs broker, freight forwarder or third-party inspection company that will be importing your Chinese products. These third-party inspection companies are familiar with the latest requirements of various industries. Sourcing Nova has and maintains a good guanxi with them. The most well-known third-party companies are TUV, SGS, BUREAU VERITAS and Asia Inspection.
  2. Google search “regulation for my <product name>, <my region>,” or “required certification for my <product name>, <my region>” . Google usually provides answers to these queries.

To sum up

Understanding import trade regulations for Chinese products is not easy. Those inexperienced with importing products from China should use a Chinese purchasing agent service provider. Sourcing Nova is one such agency. Our experienced team will do necessary checks for regulations before purchasing products on your behalf. This way, we understand what types of certifications are required and regulations that must be met for the products you choose. We select from our database those factories that meet these certifications and regulations for a quote on product pricing.

If you are looking to import from China but are considering buying cheaper products that do not have the required documents, Sourcing Nova strongly recommends you do not do this under any circumstances. The proper documentation and paperwork is required, and without this, your products will be seized, returned to country of origin or destroyed. You may also face fines and fees as a consequence. Be wise; do not try to save money by skirting import regulations on your products.

Let Sourcing Nova know anything you are not certain about when it comes to import certifications or regulations on importation of Chinese products. We will answer those questions on your behalf when we speak to factories. How can we help you today?