Toys contribute to child development and play is an essential part of growing up. However, toys have to be safe for children to play with. Ensuring that toys marketed in the EU do not put children at risk is a priority. EU legislation aims to ensure that toys meet safety requirements that are amongst the strictest in the world, especially in relation to the use of chemicals in toys.
The Toy Safety Directive 2009/48/EC
The Directive lays down the safety criteria that toys must meet before they can be marketed in the EU. Toys must also comply with any other EU legislation applicable to them. The essential safety requirements cover
- general risks: the health and safety of children, as well as other people such as parents or caregivers
- particular risks: physical and mechanical, flammability, chemical, electrical, hygiene and radioactivity risks
The Toy Safety Directive 2009/48/EC replaced the former Directive 88/378/EEC. It adapted the legal framework to technological developments and previously unknown safety issues. The application and enforcement are aligned with the so-called 'new legislative framework'.
The new Directive had to be transposed by the EU countries into their national legislation by 20 January 2011 and has applied since 20 July 2011. The chemical safety requirements have applied since 20 July 2013.
Stricter requirements for chemical substances
Compared to the former Directive 88/378/EEC, the Toy Safety Directive 2009/48/EC puts in place stricter requirements for chemicals
- Chemicals that are susceptible to cause cancer, change genetic information, harm fertility or harm an unborn child (so-called CMR substances) are no longer allowed in the accessible parts of toys beyond the concentration limits set in the Regulation on Classification, Labelling and Packaging of substances and mixtures, or unless they are considered safe following a rigorous scientific evaluation.
- 19 so-called 'heavy elements' like mercury and cadmium are not allowed in toy parts accessible to children beyond the limits laid down in Toy Safety Directive 2009/48/EC.
- 55 allergenic fragrances have been banned. However, some of them, and another 11, may be used in certain toys provided that they are indicated on the label and comply with additional requirements.
Placing toys on the EU market
There are 2 possible conformity assessments allowing toys to be sold in the EU. The manufacturer has to demonstrate the compliance of a toy by
- self-verification by using the European harmonised standards
- third party verification through a notified body
Harmonised European standards
Notified bodies perform EC-type examination and issue EC-type examination certificates. The EC-type examination is one of the 2 possible conformity assessment procedures allowing toys to be marketed in the EU. Notified bodies have been designated by EU countries.
Voluntary agreements with stakeholders
Stakeholders have signed voluntary agreements with the European Commission to improve toy safety
- Voluntary agreement between the European Commission and the Toy Industries of Europe
- Voluntary agreement between the European Commission and Eurocommerce, the European Retail Round Table, Toy Traders of Europe and the European Promotional Products Association
- The blue guide (2 MB) on the Implementation of EU product rules.
- Brochure on toy safety (2 MB)
- Toy safety tips for consumers (983 kB)
- The Commission's toy safety experts can be contacted by GROW-TOYSec [dot] europa [dot] eu (email)