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Frequently asked questions

Questions & Answers about Toy Safety

The below is a compilation of a Q&A session arranged in Shenzhen, People’s Republic of China, by the European Commission (DG Entr) and TIE. The original wording of the questions has been kept.


How can I stay informed about new calls for tender published by the DG Enterprise and Industry?

All calls for tender published by DG Enterprise and Industry are published on the calls for tender webpage.

Invitations to tenders are also published on TED (Tenders Electronic Daily) the on-line version of the Supplement S to the Official Journal of the European Communities (available in all EU official languages).
For more information on public procurement, including links to public contracts in the Member States, we suggest you to visit the Europa Public procurement website.

As a producer of toys, I would like to export my products outside the European Union. Where can I find more information on the trade regime applicable for my products?

In the context of the EU's Market Access Strategy, a web site called "Market Access Data Base" is available to market operators. This web site is a free, interactive, easy to use service with the following sections:

Sectoral and Trade Barriers
Here you will find information on trade barriers which may affect you in the individual countries.

Applied Tariffs
By simply entering a HS code or product description, this section will provide you with the duties and taxes applicable to your products, allowing you to calculate a landed cost.

Exporters' Guide to Import Formalities
All you need to know about the import procedures and documents required for the import of a particular product is available by simply entering a HS code or product description.

Statistical Database
An overview of trade flows between the EU and non-EU countries, accessed by simply entering a HS code or product description, can be obtained from this section.

Is my product a toy?

The definition of a toy in Directive 2009/48/EC has to always be the basis for deciding whether a product is a toy or not.

Annex I enumerates examples of products that are not considered as toys but could be confused with toys. Since it would be impossible to enumerate all the products that are not considered as toys, the list is naturally not exhaustive. A contrario interpretation should not be drawn from it, that is, if a particular product is not mentioned in the list, it does not mean that it is automatically a toy.

The main difficulty of the definition of a toy is the concept of "use in play" or "playing value". Virtually, everything has playing value for a child, but this does not make every object fall into the definition of toy. To be considered as a toy for the purpose of the Directive, the playing value has to be introduced in an intended way by the manufacturer. The declaration by the manufacturer of the intended use is a criterion to be considered since it figures in the wording itself. The reasonable expected use is considered to prevail over the declaration of intended used by the manufacturer. If the manufacturer labels the products as not being toys, he has to be able to support this claim.

Guidance document No 4 gives further indicative criteria that need to be considered for the classification of a product as a toy.

Furthermore, several guidance documents have been drafted for the classification of specific products.

What are the HS/CN numbers for toys?

The Nomenclature governed by the Convention on the Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System, commonly known as "HS Nomenclature", is an international multipurpose nomenclature which was elaborated under the auspices of the World Customs Organization (WCO).

At present there are 135 Contracting Parties to this Convention, however, it is applied by more than 200 administrations worldwide, mostly to set up their national customs tariff and for the collection of economic statistical data. The European Union and its member states together represent a block of 28 Contracting Parties to the aforementioned Convention.

When declared to customs in the Community, goods must generally be classified according to the Combined nomenclature or CN. Imported and exported goods have to be declared stating under which subheading of the nomenclature they fall. This determines which rate of customs duty applies and how the goods are treated for statistical purposes. The CN is comprised of the Harmonized System (HS) nomenclature with further Community subdivisions.

The HS/CN classification does not guarantee that the product is a toy. To decide whether a product is, or is not a toy, please look at the answer provided in this FAQ section.

What are the main business associations involved in the European toy sector and how is it possible to contact them?
Toy industries of Europe (TIE)
Boulevard de Waterloo 36
1000 Brussels
Tel: + 32 (0)2 213 41 90
Fax: + 32 (0)2 213 41 99
Avenue des Nerviens, 9 (5th floor)
1040 Brussels
Phone : +32 (0)2 737 05 98
Fax : +32 (0)2 230 00 78
FTA - Foreign Trade Association
Avenue de Cortenbergh, 168
1000 Brussels
Phone: +32 (0)2 762 05 51
Fax: +32 (0)2 762 75 06
TTE - Toy Traders of Europe
Beuthener Straße 43
90471 Nürnberg
Phone: +49 (0)911 6556 359
Fax: +49 (0)911 6556 588
EPPA - European Promotional Products Association
Wilhelminenstrasse 47
64285 Darmstadt
Phone: +49 (0) 6151 9183867
Fax +49 (0) 6151 6600178
ERRT - European Retail Round Table
Square de Meeûs, 35
1000 Brussels
Phone: +32 (0)2 286 51 22

 You will also find more contact information on the Useful links page of this website.

When do I need an EC type certificate?

Toys shall be submitted to EC type examination:

  • where harmonised standards, the reference number of which has been published in the Official Journal of the European Union, covering all relevant safety requirements for the toy, do not exist;
  • where the harmonised standards referred to in point (a) exist but the manufacturer has not applied them or has applied them only in part;
  • where one or more of the harmonised standards referred to in point (a) has been published with a restriction;
  • when the manufacturer considers that the nature, design, construction or purpose of the toy necessitate third party verification.

Information on the harmonised standards and their restrictions can be found under our standardisation page.

Where can I find toy standards?

Reference to the harmonized standards for Toys can be found on our standardisation page.

All CEN/CENELEC (draft) publications can be purchased from any of the National Members and some of the Affiliates.

Who draws up the EC declaration of conformity?

It is the manufacturer who draws up the declaration of conformity, not the notified body.

Can carcinogenic, mutagenic and reprotoxic substances (CMRs) be used in toys ?

The new Toy Safety Directive (TSD) – Directive 2009/48 (OJEU L 170/1 of 30.6.2009) - introduces, as from July 2013, a general ban on CMRs substances.

Exemptions can be granted in some cases, namely:

  • when they are inaccessible in any form
  • when they are contained in concentrations equal or below the concentrations mentioned in regulation 1272/2008 on chemical substances and mixtures
  • when a decision to this effect has been taken by the committee that is entrusted with ensuring the Directive's adequacy to safety requirements and scientific knowledge.
Is the use of nickel in toys restricted ?

The use of nickel is restricted not only in toys, but in all products that are intended to come into prolonged contact with the skin.

This restriction is foreseen by the REACH Regulation 1907/2006/EC (Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemical Substances), under Annex XVII.

Is it allowed to use allergenic fragrances in toys ?

The new TSD contains a list of 55 allergenic fragrances which can not be used in toys.

Besides, another 11 fragrances are submitted to a mandatory labelling requirement.

Does the new Directive tackle the issue of heavy metals ?

The new TSD contains a list of strict migration limit values for 19 elements (such as lead, cadmium, and others).

These values are based on a study carried out by an independent contractor pdf - 3 MB [3 MB] .

What are PAHs?

PAHs (Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons) are a group of chemicals that are formed during the incomplete burning of organic (carbon containing) matter or by heating organic matter to high temperatures.
They are produced by the burning of coal, oil, gas and wood for heating, and in the process of generation of electricity.

They are also released into the environment by waste incineration, by vehicle exhaust emissions, and within private homes by heating, cooking, grilling, as well as by cigarette smoking.

Can PAHs be used in toys ?

PAHs concern a multitude of industrial and consumer products. As regards toys, PAHs are classified as CMR substances, and therefore submitted to the provisions related to CMRs.

Specific measures for PAHs which may occur in consumer articles are currently being discussed at the European level.

Is the use of phthalates in toys restricted ?

Annex XVII of the REACH regulation restricts the use of phthalates.

DEHP, DBP and BBP (Bis (2-ethylhexyl) phthalate, Dibutyl phthalate, Benzyl butyl phthalate) are classified as CMRs and banned in all toys and childcare articles.
DINP, DIDP and DNOP (Di-“isononyl” phthalate, Di-“isodecyl” phthalate, Di-n-octyl phthalate) are banned in toys and childcare articles which can be placed in the mouth by children.

Is the use of Azodyes in toys restricted ?

Annex XVII of the REACH regulation contains a restriction for the use of azo colourants and azo dyes in textile and leather articles which may come into direct and prolonged contact with the human skin or the oral cavity.

Are other dangerous substances such as endocrine disrupters regulated in the new Directive ?

Endocrine disrupters are substances that appear complex to define and even to identify due to the relatively limited amount of knowledge available for the time being.

The issue of identifying the risk posed by these substances and of the ways and means to address it by regulatory measures goes beyond the scope of toys.
Therefore it seems appropriate to deal with this problem within the REACH Regulation, in order to gain a broader knowledge, and to study a comprehensive response.

The marketing of puzzle mats containing formamide was restricted in some member States. Can formamide be used in toys?

Formamide is a CMR classified as reprotoxic cat 2 (or 1 B according to 1272/2008).

According to the current Toy safety directive 88/378/EEC, toys shall not contain dangerous substances in amounts which may harm the safety and health of children.
It is the responsibility of the manufacturer to demonstrate that toys they place on the EU market comply with this requirement. National market surveillance authorities have the obligation to verify and take measures the case may be.

The new Toy Safety Directive 2009/48 introduces, as from July 2013, a general ban on CMRs substances. As an exception, they can be used when they are contained in concentrations equal or below the concentrations mentioned in Regulation 1272/2008 on classification, labelling and packaging of substances and mixtures (0.5% for formamide).

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