Federal law requires that every children's product be tested by a third party, CPSC-accepted laboratory in order to have an objective, unbiased laboratory ensure that the product is properly tested and compliant with federal children's product safety requirements.
CPSC has accepted more than 400 laboratories worldwide to perform testing for a variety of requirements for children's products. Each CPSC-accepted laboratory is authorized by CPSC to test each children's product for certain requirements. The type of third party testing required varies by product based on the product or product class, the intended age audience and consumer use patterns, and the product's material composition.
Who must conduct third party testing for children's products?
The importer must ensure that third party testing was conducted on a children's product that was manufactured overseas, and the U.S. manufacturer must ensure that third party testing was conducted on a children's product that was manufactured domestically.
Third party testing serves as the basis for a company to certify in a Children's Product Certificate that its children's product is compliant with each applicable children's product safety rule. The manufacturer or importer of a children's product that is subject to children's product safety rules (or similar rules, bans, standard, or regulationas under any law enforced by the Commission) is always legally responsible for issuing a Children's Product Certificate.
How can I determine which children's product safety rules are applicable to my children's product?
You may view the list of requirements for which third party testing and certification are required here.
A single children's product may be required to undergo multiple third party tests to ensure compliance with many different regulatory requirements. Accordingly, to save costs, you should try to identify a single laboratory that the CPSC recognizes as qualified to perform all of the tests that you need to certify that your children's product is compliant. Depending upon the specific requirements of your children's product, however, you may need to use more than one laboratory to perform all of the tests required for your children's product.
Note that there are limited exemptions from testing, such as exemptions for some small batch manufacturers or for some materials determined not to contain lead.
Where can I find accredited laboratories that are accepted by the CPSC?
The list of accredited laboratories accepted by the CPSC can be found here. We also provide helpful guidance in selecting laboratory.
The CPSC has accepted hundreds of laboratories worldwide. The CPSC accepts a laboratory as qualified to test a particular children's product safety rule. (Each laboratory that the CPSC has accepted will likely be qualified to test for different children's product safety rules based on the type of equipment and expertise that particular laboratory possesses.) That means that you will need to ensure that your chosen laboratory is accepted by the CPSC to perform each and every test for your product in the scenario where your product(s) is subject to more than one children's product safety rule.
What are the different types of third party testing required for my children's product?
There are three types of required third party testing:
- initial certification testing, discussed on this page. (This is also sometimes referred to as third party testing, but third party testing includes the next two items, as well.);
- material change testing; and
- periodic testing.
Initially, every children's product that is required to be third party tested must be third party tested by a CPSC-accepted laboratory for compliance with all applicable children's product safety rules.
The first time a children’s product is tested for compliance with children’s product safety requirements is called initial certification testing. (The regulation calls this “certification testing.”) Based on passing results from the initial certification testing, the manufacturer or importer then must issue a Children's Product Certificate.
Based on the results of the third party testing, the manufacturer must then issue a Children's Product Certificate.
Certain children’s products may never require more than initial certification testing, if, for example, the children’s products are produced in limited production runs and with no material changes within each production run. Certain children’s products may require subsequent testing, such as material change testing, periodic testing, or testing of a component part, if necessary. (See the box on the right-hand side of the page forfurther information.)
If a material change is made later to that children's product or to a component part of that children's product, then either the component part or the entire product needs to be retested by a third party, CPSC-accepted laboratory and a new Children's Product Certificate needs to be issued.
If a children's product initially is certified, and then additional production continues, periodic testing is required for all the applicable children's product safety rules, even if there are no material changes. Periodic testing is in addition to material change testing.
Am I required to test every batch or every product that I produce?
No. At a minimum, you must third party test your first production batch or lot using a CPSC-accepted laboratory to certify your product. After initial certification, you will need to periodically retest your ongoing production, at least once per year for most manufacturers. You need to retest your production batch any time a material change has been made that could impact compliance of the product with any applicable children's product safety rule.
For example, a manufacturer of ink or paint likely does not need to retest each new vat of ink or paint if the manufacturer has taken the steps to ensure that no material changes have occurred in the production process. Periodic testing of the inks or paints is required, and the manufacturer is best positioned to determine the appropriate frequency. In creating a periodic testing plan or a production testing plan, a company may institute controls over incoming materials into its factory, process controls on the manufacturing floor, additional management controls to minimize variance and risk, and other techniques to have a high degree of assurance about the continued compliance of its goods. Each company will need to analyze its own procedures to determine the appropriate frequency of periodic testing.
Do I need to have each shipment of product tested by a CPSC-accepted laboratory?
It depends. If there have been no material changes, then it is likely you do not need to retest each shipment. However, if there have been material changes, or you are uncertain about whether there have been material changes, then it is likely you will need to test each shipment in order to certify your product properly. This is a decision you need to make with care considering what you know about the reliability of your supply chain and the manufacturing process.
For example, where an importer exercises little or no control over the manufacturing process of a product or its component parts, it may be difficult or impossible for the importer to have the high degree of assurance necessary for the importer to be able to certify that its children's product complies with all applicable federal consumer product safety requirements. In that situation, an importer likely will need to test each new shipment as if the product were being tested and certified for the first time.
All manufacturers must periodically test their continuing production to ensure continuing compliance with all children’s product safety rules.
What records must a manufacturer maintain?
The law requires that, for 5 years, a manufacturer must maintain records of its certificates of compliance, the product's test results from all testing (initial certification, material change, component part, periodic and/or production testing), periodic or production testing plan, if applicable, and the other actions the manufacturer has taken to secure a high degree of assurance that its products comply with the applicable children's product safety rule.
The requirement to retain these records is in addition to the requirements that a manufacturer maintain records of all Children’s Product Certificates, all third party certification test results from initial certification and material change testing, and all descriptions of material changes in a product’s design, manufacturing process, and sourcing of component parts during the continued production of a product.
Is electronic access to testing and certification records sufficient to satisfy the 5 year recordkeeping requirement?
Yes. Electronic access to testing and certification records satisfies the 5 year recordkeeping requirement. Manufacturers are not required to maintain records in multiple locations or in multiple forms.
Manufacturers and importers are, however, always responsible for complying with CPSC recordkeeping requirements, whether they outsource recordkeeping functions, use electronic methods of recordkeeping or rely on internally-maintained paper records. Therefore, manufacturers and importers may wish to consider the practical and technological issues of recordkeeping when drafting their own recordkeeping policies. When a manufacturer or importer relies on another party who performed the test(s) and possess(es) the testing and/or certification records to satisfy its own recordkeeping obligations, that manufacturer or importer should consider whether:
- the electronic access to those records is secure;
- the record keeper will maintain the integrity of the data and the records in accordance with CPSC regulations; and
- the record keeper will provide the certifier readily available access for at least the required 5 year period.
Can a manufacturer label a product as meeting applicable federal consumer product safety requirements?
Yes. A manufacturer, importer, or private labeler may include the following statement on a label to a consumer product and/or its packaging: “Meets CPSC Safety Requirements.” The label must be visible and legible.
The label may be added only if the product has been properly certified with a Children’s Product Certificate that the product complies with all applicable consumer product safety rules under the CPSA and with all rules, bans, standards, or regulations applicable to the product under any act enforced by CPSC.
A manufacturer may use a label in addition to the one described above, as long as such label does not alter or mislead consumers about the meaning of the text in the statement above. An importer, manufacturer, or private labeler must not imply that the CPSC has tested, approved, or endorsed the product.
What is undue influence training?
Undue influence training is training to make sure that manufacturers and their employees do not exert undue influence on testing laboratories to alter test methods or test results that serve as the basis for certifying a product’s compliance under federal law.
Manufacturers and importers are required to make sure “that every appropriate staff member receive training on avoiding undue influence and sign a statement attesting to participation in such training.” Manufacturers and importers must also inform their employees that allegations of undue influence may be reported confidentially to the CPSC and must tell their employees how to make such confidential reports. A digital signature or other electronic attestation (such as a check box), indicating that an employee took the training as part of software or online training, would meet the requirement to “sign a statement attesting to participation in such training.”
CPSC does not provide a model undue influence training course.
To whom at CPSC should I report any violations of my company’s undue influence policy?
Reports should be filed with the CPSC’s Office of the Secretary. All reports are confidential.
By e-mail using the Contact Form on CPSC's website
Phone: (301) 504-7923 M-F 8:00 am - 4:30 pm Eastern Time Zone in the United States
Fax: (301) 504-0124 and (301) 504-0025
By postal mail: U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission
4330 East West Highway
Bethesda, MD 20814
Does the CPSC accept testing performed before the effective date of a new mandatory standard for a children’s product?
Testing during the period between the approval date and the effective date of a new mandatory standard is known as retrospective testing. After a new mandatory standard is approved, manufacturers and laboratories often wish to have finished products or component parts tested under the new standard before, and in anticipation of, the effective date of the new standard. Acceptance of retrospective testing can ease the transition to new testing requirements and help avoid “bottlenecks” at CPSC-accepted laboratories before the effective date of new standards.
In the past, the Commission has accepted certifications for children’s products based on retrospective testing under the following conditions:
- The product must have been tested by a laboratory accredited to the international standard ISO/IEC 17025:2005(E) by a signatory to the ILAC-MRA at the time of the test.
- The scope of the laboratory’s accreditation must include testing in accordance with the applicable standard;
- For firewalled or governmental laboratories, the Commission must have accepted the laboratory’s accreditation on or before the time that the children's product was tested, even if the laboratory’s scope of accreditation did not include the tests contained in the applicable standard at the time of Commission acceptance;
- The Commission must have accepted the laboratory’s application before the effective date of the standard’s notice of requirements (NOR);
- The test results must show the product is in compliance with the applicable standard;
- The children’s product must have been tested on or after the date of publication in the Federal Register of the new or modified standard, and before the effective date of the standard’s NOR; and
- The laboratory’s accreditation must remain in effect through the effective date of the standard’s NOR.
CPSC staff anticipates that in the future the Commission will continue to accept certifications based on retrospective testing. The Commission, however, will make its determination for each new requirement on a case-by-case basis.
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.