This page provides information for businesses seeking guidance on how to comply with the federal toy safety standard, ASTM F963-11.
Table of Contents
All toys intended for use by children 12 years of age and under must be third party tested and be certified in a Children’s Product Certificate as compliant to the federal toy safety standard enacted by Congress, and to other applicable requirements as well. Please see our Business Guidance Page. Also, please see guidance pages for other common requirements for children’s products: lead, lead in paint, phthalates, small parts, and tracking labels.
What is the toy safety standard?
The toy safety standard refers to ASTM F 963-11 and to ASTM F 963-07ε1 for toy chests.
ASTM F 963-11, The Standard Consumer Safety Specification for Toy Safety is a very comprehensive standard that addresses numerous hazards that have been identified with toys. Previous versions of ASTM F963 were voluntary industry consensus standards that represented the collective work of industry, consumer groups, the government, and others to provide adequate industry-wide standards for toys. In 2008, the CPSIA mandated that the voluntary toy safety standard then in effect become a nationwide mandatory children's product safety rule.
You may view a summary and purchase the toy safety standard in its entirety from ASTM International's website. On ASTM's website, you can view a brief description of the toy safety standard, a table of contents of the standard's sections, and a list of products that are not covered by the toy safety standard (although some of those products, such as bicycles, are covered by another mandatory standard). In order to view the full standard, you must purchase the standard from ASTM because it is protected by copyright laws. You are urged to review the toy safety standard and to consider which sections of the standard may be applicable to your product.
A manufacturer or importer is responsible for identifying the sections of the toy standard that apply to their product(s). Once you have identified the applicable requirements for your product, you must use a CPSC-accepted laboratory to perform the testing. To facilitate the testing of your product, you should contact a CPSC-accepted laboratory to discuss your product and to secure an estimate. The estimate should provide you with an itemized listing of which sections of the standard the laboratory proposes to test your product for conformity. (As a consumer of these laboratory services, you may want to secure an estimate from more than one laboratory, as you likely would do with any major purchase.)
Is third-party testing and certification required for the toy safety standard?
Yes. Third-party testing and certification is required for those toys designed or intended primarily for children 12 and under.
Does every section of the toy safety standard apply to every toy?
No. The toy safety standard is a lengthy document that contains provisions for many different types and classes of toys. There is no one-size-fits-all approach to the toy standard. Different sections of the toy standard apply to different toys. Many of the standard's sections may not apply to a particular product, but there are likely to be many sections that do apply.
For example, if your toy does not produce any sound, it would not need to comply with the section of the toy standard that tests how loud a sound the toy makes, but there are still many other provisions of the toy standard that may apply to your toy. Because different toys have different characteristics, materials, and functions, every toy needs to be reviewed individually to determine what sections of the toy safety standard are applicable. There are too many possible combinations of applicable sections of the toy safety standard to review all of them here.
You should review the standard carefully. As a manufacturer or importer, it is your responsibility to review the toy safety standard and to consider which sections of the standard may be applicable to your product. (You may review the table of contents free of charge.) Ultimately, however, you will likely need to have your product tested by a CPSC-accepted laboratory. You should contact at least one CPSC-accepted laboratory to discuss your product and to secure an estimate. The estimate should provide you with an itemized listing of which sections of the toy safety standard the laboratory proposes to test your product for conformity. Please review these helpful questions to ask the laboratory.
Please see this helpful chart on ASTM F963-11 that breaks down the different sections of the toy standard into generally applicable requirements and toy specific requirements.
Testing and Certification
Do all sections of the toy safety standard require third party testing?
No, only certain provisions of the toy safety standard outlined in 16 CFR §1112.15(b)(32), and also detailed in this chart require third party testing. The sections of the toy safety standard that require third party testing are as follows:
ASTM F 963-07ε1
Section 4.27 - Toy Chests (except labeling and/or instructional literature requirements)
ASTM F 963-11
- Section 22.214.171.124, Surface Coating Materials - Soluble Test for Metals
- Section 126.96.36.199, Toy Substrate Materials
- Section 188.8.131.52, Cleanliness of Liquids, Pastes, Putties, Gels, and Powders (except for cosmetics and tests on formulations used to prevent microbial degradation)
- Section 4.3.7, Stuffing Materials
- Section 4.5, Sound Producing Toys
- Section 4.6, Small Objects (except labeling and/or instructional literature requirements)
- Section 4.7, Accessible Edges (except labeling and/or instructional literature requirements)
- Section 4.8, Projections
- Section 4.9, Accessible Points (except labeling and/or instructional literature requirements)
- Section 4.10, Wires or Rods
- Section 4.11, Nails and Fasteners
- Section 4.12, Plastic Film
- Section 4.13, Folding Mechanisms and Hinges
- Section 4.14, Cords, Straps, and Elastics
- Section 4.15, Stability and Overload Requirements
- Section 4.16, Confined Spaces
- Section 4.17, Wheels, Tires, and Axles
- Section 4.18, Holes, Clearances, and Accessibility of Mechanisms
- Section 4.19, Simulated Protective Devices (except labeling and/or instructional literature requirements)
- Section 4.20.1, Pacifiers with Rubber Nipples/Nitrosamine Test
- Section 4.20.2, Toy Pacifiers
- Section 4.21, Projectile Toys
- Section 4.22, Teethers and Teething Toys
- Section 4.23.1, Rattles with Nearly Spherical, Hemispherical, or Circular Flared Ends
- Section 4.24, Squeeze Toys
- Section 4.25, Battery-Operated Toys (except labeling and/or instructional literature requirements)
- Section 4.26, Toys Intended to Be Attached to a Crib or Playpen (except labeling and/or instructional literature requirements)
- Section 4.27, Stuffed and Beanbag-Type Toys
- Section 4.30, Toy Gun Marking
- Section 4.32, Certain Toys with Spherical Ends
- Section 4.35, Pompoms
- Section 4.36, Hemispheric-Shaped Objects
- Section 4.37, Yo-Yo Elastic Tether Toys
- Section 4.38, Magnets (except labeling and/or instructional literature requirements)
- Section 4.39, Jaw Entrapment in Handles and Steering Wheels
The sections of the toy safety standard that DO NOT require third party testing are as follows:
- The sections of ASTM F 963-11 that address food and cosmetics, products traditionally outside the Commission's jurisdiction.
- The sections of ASTM F 963-11 pertaining to the manufacturing process, and thus, cannot be evaluated meaningfully by a test of the finished product (e.g., the purified water provision at section 184.108.40.206).
- Requirements for labeling, instructional literature, or producer's markings in ASTM F 963-11 or section 4.27 of ASTM F 963-07ε1. More info on this issue below in a separate FAQ.
- Generally, the Commission has stated that it will not require third party testing and certification for certain labeling and technical requirements. For example, neither the labeling requirements under the Federal Hazardous Substances Act (15 U.S.C. 1261−1278), nor the labeling requirements under the Flammable Fabrics Act (15 U.S.C. 1191−1204) require a product to undergo third party testing.
- The sections of ASTM F 963-11 that involve assessments that are conducted by the unaided eye and without any sort of tool or device.
- Section 4.3.8 of ASTM F 963-11, pertaining to a specific phthalate, because section 108 of the CPSIA specifically addresses phthalates.
Do all sections of the toy safety standard require certification?
Yes. Although certain sections of the toy safety standard are exempted from third party testing, toys must be certified, in a Children’s Product Certificate, as being fully compliant with all applicable sections of the toy safety standard. For the applicable sections of the toy safety standard that are exempt from third party testing, manufacturers are expected to test each product or ensure that the product has been subjected to a reasonable testing program. (For convenience, some manufacturers may choose to have laboratories test the toy for compliance with those exempted sections, although it is not a requirement that they do so.)
Some sections on labeling and technical requirements, discussed above, cannot be tested and, therefore, testing is not required.
Where can I find the official Commission notice about certification and third party testing requirements?
The specific sections that require testing at a CPSC-accepted testing laboratory are listed at 16 CFR §1112.15(b)(32).
For which age groups (i.e., the product's intended users) is third party testing and certification of toys required?
Toys intended or designed primarily for children 12 years of age and younger must be subjected to third party testing and certification in a Children’s Product Certificate at CPSC-accepted laboratories.
Although ASTM F 963-11 technically applies to toys intended for use by children under 14 years of age, the third party testing requirement only pertains to toys intended or designed primarily for children 12 years of age or younger. In other words:
- If the toy is intended or designed for children 14 years of age or older, then ASTM F963 does not apply to the toy and it need not be tested by a third party laboratory.
- If the toy is intended or designed for children 13 years of age, then the toy is still subject to the requirements in ASTM F963-11, but you are not required to have the toy tested by a third party laboratory. (Few toys are likely to fall within this category.)
- If the toy is intended or designed primarily for children 12 years of age or younger, then the toy is subject to the requirements in ASTM F963-11 and you must have the toy tested by a third party laboratory.
For those toys for which third party testing is required, the testing must be conducted by a CPSC-accepted laboratory.
Specific Testing Questions
Do warning labels, written instruction manuals, or other producer’s markings on a product or the product’s packaging require testing by a CPSC-accepted laboratory?
No. In addition, the sections of ASTM F963-11 that involve assessments conducted by the unaided eye and without any sort of tool or device do not require testing by a CPSC-accepted laboratory. See the complete list of sections that require third party testing described in the table above. If a section from ASTM F963-11 is not listed there, then third party testing is not required.
Are toys required to be tested to meet flammability requirements?
No. Congress did not include flammability requirements and third party testing for flammability of toys when it made the toy safety standard mandatory in 2008.
However, a children’s toy—during its customary and reasonably foreseeable handling or use—must not be a hazardous substance that may cause substantial personal injury or substantial illness during, or as a proximate result of, being a highly flammable or extremely flammable solid. This requirement, which is from the Federal Hazardous Substances Act, does not require premarket, third party testing from a CPSC-accepted laboratory.
To sell such a product, a manufacturer should have a basis for the decision to test or not test a product for flammability characteristics. The basis may be the expected pattern of “customary and reasonably foreseeable handling or use.” Or, the basis may be pre-existing knowledge that the materials used in a product are known not to be particularly flammable based on testing done under similar standards, such as the listing of certain materials in the wearing apparel flammability standard (16 C.F.R. § 1610.1(d)), such as polyester, which do not require testing due to experience gained from years of testing in accordance with the standard.
If a manufacturer is uncertain, or wishes to test the product to be certain it is not highly flammable, 16 C.F.R. § 1500.44 is an appropriate test method to use, and the test method provided in Annex A5 of ASTM F963-11 is also another appropriate test method.
Must all accessible substrates be tested for total lead and soluble heavy elements as specified in ASTM F963-11?
Not necessarily. While Section 220.127.116.11(1) of ASTM F963-11 says that the accessible substrates and all small parts must be tested for total lead and eight soluble heavy elements, the term "accessible" is defined in 18.104.22.168(1)(a), and it is very important to determine whether your toy is subject to this additional requirement.
First, "accessible" is defined in section 3.1.2 of ASTM F963-11, and a toy must be examined for accessible parts both before and after age-appropriate use and abuse testing.
Second, for the purpose of the definition in section 3.1.2, and as stated in section 22.214.171.124, only toys or the parts of toys that can be sucked, mouthed, or ingested - both before and after age-appropriate use and abuse testing - need to be tested for the eight soluble heavy elements . This means that toys or parts of toys that, due to their inaccessibility, size, mass, function, or other characteristics, cannot be sucked, mouthed, or ingested are not required to be tested for the soluble elements listed above. However, compliance with total lead content limits for such items still may be required under the CPSIA, if they are accessible to touch.
The following criteria are considered reasonable for the classification of toys that are likely to be sucked, mouthed, or ingested: (1) all toy parts intended to be mouthed or contact food or drink, components of toys which are cosmetics, and components or writing instruments categorized as toys; (2) toys intended for children less than 6 years of age, where there is a probability that the parts or components of the toy would come into contact with the mouth. See Note 3 of Section 126.96.36.199(1)(a).
Therefore, if your product is age-graded as intended for use for children age 6 years and above, and is not likely to be sucked, mouthed, or ingested, it does not need to be tested for the eight metals. Remember that regardless of this analysis, the CPSIA requires that all accessible components of children's products meet the lead content requirement of 100 ppm. Please review our lead guidance page.
Section 188.8.131.52(1) states that the accessible substrates in toys (including accessible glass, metal, and ceramic toys or small parts of toys) are subject to the limits set forth in Table 1 of F963-11, which specifies, among other requirements, a limit of 75 parts per million of soluble cadmium content (or 50 parts per million for modeling clays that are part of toys). Yet, Section 184.108.40.206(2)(c) states that the soluble cadmium content limit is 200µg.
What is the difference between these two requirements? The test procedure for the requirement in section 220.127.116.11(1) is based on a 2-hour extraction period. Section 18.104.22.168(2)(c) specifically states that the section is in addition to the limits in Table 1 but only for metallic toys or metallic toy components that are small parts. That class of toys cannot exceed a value of 200 µg for total cadmium extracted from an item within a 24-hour period when tested per section 22.214.171.124(3). The section does note, however, that "Compliance with all of the above requirements may be established by a screen of total element content as specified in 8.3.1."
Updated and Revisions to ASTM F963
What are the key changes in the newest version of the CPSC's toy safety standard ASTM F963-11.
Heavy Elements in Substrate Materials
The primary changes in the 2011 version of ASTM F963 include adding limits for the soluble amount of eight elements (antimony, arsenic, lead, barium, cadmium, chromium, mercury, and selenium) permitted in toy substrates. This requirement is in addition to the limits that already exist for surface coatings on toys and the specific limits on total lead content and lead in paint and other surface coatings. The new requirement is based on the soluble limits of eight metals (listed above) after a solubility test in diluted acid.
Screening Test for Heavy Elements in Substrate Materials
In addition, the new standard provides an optional screening test procedure that is based on the total concentration of those elements in a single test. Most CPSC-accepted laboratories will test a toy for the heavy elements using the screening test and only conduct additional testing for heavy elements if the screening test indicates a failing component or a need for further testing to resolve an ambiguous result. The screening test uses methods based on CPSC-approved test methods for lead content. If the screening test shows passing results for the various elements in a predetermined range, the results may be relied upon, in certain circumstances, without further testing for solubility of the elements.
Another major addition to the 2011 version of ASTM F963 are the requirements for bath toys that are intended to address the potential puncture or other hazards that may be presented by vertical, or nearly vertical, rigid projections on bath toys.
Finally, there are many other revisions to existing sections of ASTM F963, such as changes made on the use of cords, the requirements for squeeze toys attached to rings, yo-yo tether balls, straps and elastics, jaw entrapment, toys with spherical ends, and the stability of ride-on toys.
For future updates to ASTM F963, what happens when ASTM International submits proposed revision(s) to the Commission regarding the ASTM F963 toy standard currently in effect?
When ASTM International notifies the Commission of proposed revision(s) to ASTM F-963, the Commission has 90 days from the date of notification to inform ASTM International if it determines that the proposed revision(s) does not improve the safety of the consumer product covered by the standard. If the Commission does inform ASTM International of its determination that the proposed revision(s) does not improve safety, the existing ASTM F963 standard continues in effect as a consumer product safety rule, regardless of the proposed revision(s). If the Commission does not respond to ASTM International within 90 days regarding the proposed revision(s) to ASTM F963, 90 days later (180 days total after notification by ASTM International), the proposed revision(s) becomes effective as a consumer product safety rule.
- Laboratory Test Manual for Toy Testing [PDF]
- ASTM F 963-11 Chart
This communication has been prepared for general informational purposes only and is based upon the facts and information presented. This communication does not, and is not intended to, constitute legal advice and 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.