© 2011 itsa Ltd on behalf of the Trading Standards Institute.
The labelling and safety requirements for new toys, and how the law applies to toys sold second-hand
This guidance is for England, Scotland & Wales
There are a number of labelling requirements for toys, including the name and address of the manufacturer / importer, the type, batch, model or serial number, the CE mark, and warnings and instructions.
Toys that are second-hand do not need to be labelled with the CE mark or the address of the manufacturer or distributor, but they must still be safe. The special warnings and instructions are required for both second-hand and new toys.
Trading standards services enforce the legislation and can provide guidance on the safety of other products, such as prams, pushchairs, clothing, beds, bicycles and car seats.
In the guide
The Toys (Safety) Regulations 2011 set out the legal requirements for the safety of new toys supplied by a business.
A toy is defined as: 'any product or material designed or intended (whether or not exclusively) for use in play by children of less than 14 years of age'.
All new toys that you supply in the course of a business must be marked with:
- the name and address of the manufacturer, or if the manufacturer is outside of the EU the name and address of the manufacturer and the importer
- type, batch, serial or model number
- the CE mark
The CE mark is a declaration by the manufacturer that the toy is safe.
These marks must be on the toy or its packaging and be permanent and easy to read.
On small toys these marks may be on:
- a label attached to the toy
- an accompanying leaflet
- an associated display box
Warnings & instructions
Some toys must come with warnings and instructions about precautions that need to be taken to ensure safe use. Special warnings are required as follows (and where specific instructions are required, you should seek further advice or refer directly to the Regulations):
- toys that are not suitable for children under three require a warning to this effect (stating the reason why - for example, choking hazard)
- swings, slides and similar toys require instructions for assembly and for periodic checks and maintenance
- 'functional' toys (that is - those that are used in the same way as, and are often scale models of, appliances or installations intended for adults) require the following marking: 'Warning: to be used under the direct supervision of an adult'. They also require specific safety instructions and an indication that they must be kept out of the reach of very young children
- toys containing inherently dangerous substances or preparations (such as chemical toys) require specific safety instructions, a statement of a minimum age limit for use and a statement that the toy is to be used under adult supervision - where appropriate, additional requirements as to labelling and packaging may apply under EU Regulation (EC) No 1272/2008 on classification, labelling and packaging of substances and mixtures
- toys such as skateboards or skates require specific instructions and the following marking: 'Warning: protective equipment should be worn'
- toys for use in the water (such as rubber rings) require the following marking: 'Warning! Only to be used in water in which the child is within its depth and under supervision'
Toys that are second-hand are covered by the General Product Safety Regulations 2005 - rather than the Toys (Safety) Regulations 2011 - and as such do not need to be labelled with the CE mark or the address of the manufacturer or distributor, although they must still be safe. The special warnings and instructions (see above) are required for both second-hand and new toys.
You are advised to only sell second-hand toys that are CE marked, contain any relevant instructions or warnings and have been checked for any obvious faults.
When you have reason to believe a toy is unsafe and presents a risk - for example, you receive a complaint that a toy has injured a child - you must:
- inform trading standards and your supplier of the risk
- withdraw the toy from sale if appropriate
- provide trading standards with information about:
- risk presented by the toy
- non-compliance in question
- any actions taken
Your local trading standards service may request cooperation in relation to any action undertaken.
You must ensure that whilst a toy is under your responsibility the conditions under which it is stored or transported will not jeopardise the toy's safety.
Finally, for a period of 10 years, you must be able to identify the business that supplied you with the toy (in other words you need to keep invoices etc).
If you sell toys that are incorrectly marked or unsafe, or if you do not meet your responsibilities, you will be breaking the law and may be prosecuted. The maximum penalty on conviction is an unlimited fine (£5,000 in Scotland) and two years' imprisonment.
Other children's products
Trading standards services also enforce, and can provide guidance on, the safety of other products, such as prams, pushchairs, clothing, beds, bicycles and car seats. See also 'New & second-hand prams & pushchairs' and 'New nightwear'.
This information is intended for guidance; only the courts can give an authoritative interpretation of the law.
The guide's 'Key legislation' links may only show the original version of the legislation. Information on amendments to UK legislation can be found on each link's 'More Resources' tab; amendments to EU legislation are usually incorporated into the text. Amending legislation is linked to separately where it is directly related to the content of a guide. Please contact us for further information.
Last reviewed/updated: August 2015
© 2015 itsa Ltd.