As an electric toy manufacturer, it's important to be aware of the safety standards that apply to your products. The EU, for example, has developed strict safety guidelines that apply to all EU countries and the UK. Other countries like the United States and China have generally designed their policies to reflect the EU’s standards, but regulatory updates occur frequently in most countries. There are also international standards that are frequently adopted by specific governments, retailers, and NGOs. If you are an importer, a manufacturer, or an affiliated supplier of electric toys, understanding the details of the standards that apply to your products will help you stay compliant.
In this blog post, we'll discuss the types of safety regulations and standards that apply to specific regions around the world and how you can protect your supply chain from consequences resulting from non-compliance.
Compliance with electric toy safety standards can help you avoid recalls, fines, and strict legal action.
Toy safety standards include testing to evaluate mechanical strength, heating and abnormal operation, electric strength, and product construction, amongst other properties.
Toy safety regulations are policies that mandate toy safety standards that electronic toys must meet. The standards provide guidance on what properties must be tested and the associated testing methodology.
Toy standards vary from country to country. The EU has some of the strictest toy standards, so standards in larger markets aim to be harmonized with EU standards to simplify the testing and compliance process.
Third parties can help ensure your products align with toy safety requirements in your destination market.
Toy safety standards are rules set by organizations to ensure that toys are safe for children. Regulated markets like the EU, the United States, and China have unique toy safety regulations and standards. Regulations are the governing policies that dictate and inform how specific standards are written. For example, The EU’s Toy Safety Directive informs EN 62115 and EN71, which are the specific requirements for toy manufacturers. The purpose of these standards is to protect children from injury, illness, and death. The range of issues covered by toy safety standards includes the raw material composition, testing protocols, labeling and packaging requirements, retail display criteria, and more.
Manufacturers and suppliers have a legal requirement to comply with toy safety standards relevant to their origin and destination markets, as each country has its own set of standards that electric toys should meet. Though the compliance process can be tedious and complex, manufacturers who strictly comply with these requirements not only avoid recalls, but also earn the trust of their consumers and create a competitive advantage in the marketplace. The benefits of complying with toy safety regulations include reduced risk to child safety, increased brand loyalty, and good standing with the government you are operating in.
Though there are toy safety standards specific to each country (in addition to several international standards), the content and essence of most of the regulations have been harmonized. The International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) and the European Commission are two such entities that have developed harmonized standards (IEC 62115 and EN 62115 respectively), which are some of the strictest in the world. These standards (which will be regarded as IEC/EN 62115) can be regarded as the “gold standard” for electric toy safety. IEC/EN 62115 evaluates the following properties of toys:
Mechanical strength testing is meant to ensure that the toy functions in accordance with the toy’s original design. Specific elements that are examined include the ability for a child to gain access to electrical parts, moving parts, or parts subject to high temperatures and enclosures must be tested for tension and accessibility.
Heating and abnormal operation testing covers hazards associated with the toy becoming excessively hot or the potential for the toy to be used in an unforeseen and hazardous way. This testing includes analysis of a product’s ability to burn if exposed to fire, its “on/off” or switch functionality involved in moving parts (e.g. car wheels), and the potential for power sources to heat components to hazardous temperatures.
Electric strength cover insulative properties of the product between hazardous electric elements and the toy user. A few of the most important elements of electric strength testing include voltage capacities, ensuring the design reduces the risk of electric shock, and reducing exposure to electric shock under humid conditions.
This test category applies to toys that are designed to be used in aquatic environments or with water to operate. Water exposure can result in high temperatures caused by short circuits and electric shocks so tests are designed to evaluate a toy’s ability to resist water seepage. Toys are subject to testing that include complete water submersion and subsequent operability, overfilling or a toy’s reservoir and subsequent operability, and a toy’s ability to resist when being cleaned using water. Such toys that require water testing must also pass water ingress testing as outline by EN 60529.
Testing is required to evaluate a toy’s ability to cause electric shock if powered with a power source. This includes both external power sources and batteries. This set of tests links directly to “Particular Safety Requirement of Annex II, Section IV, paragraph 1 of Toy Safety Directive 2009/48/EC”. Construction testing examines hazards associated with children a) playing with parts that are connected to mains voltage (i.e. transformers, cords, sockets), b) resetting or replacing “cutout” components, and c) exposing themselves to battery electrolyte leakage amongst others.
IEC/EN 62115 includes criteria for correct marking and instructions. Such criteria include the ability to use symbols instead of written language, correct labeling for battery-operated equipment, and the inclusion of sufficient instruction on the use of the product.Toys must have safety labels that include information regarding appropriate toy use, recommended age appropriateness, potential hazards, and other relevant warnings.
This list is not exhaustive but provides some of the more critical testing requirements included in IEC/EN62115.
As mentioned earlier, each market has its own regulations and standards. Here are the most common electrical toy regulations and standards around the world:
European Union – The Toy Safety Directive 2009/48/EC
United States – Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA)
Canada - Canada Consumer Product Safety Act (CCPSA)
China - China Compulsory Certificate (CCC)
European Union – EN 71 – Toy Safety Requirements
European Union – EN 62115 – Electrical Toys Safety Requirements
United States – ASTM F963 – Standard Consumer Safety Specification for Toy Safety
Canada – SOR/2011-17 – Electric Toy Safety Testing (Excluding Battery-Operated Toys)
China - China GB standards and requirements on physical and mechanical properties of general and specific toys
United States – UL 696 – Standard for Electric Toys
International – ISO 8124 – Toy Safety Requirements
Now, let’s explore the most important safety regulations and standards in more detail.
Toy safety regulations in the US are rigorous with safety being the key concern for toy manufacturers, suppliers, and importers at every stage of manufacturing.
The Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA) covers all children’s products intended for use by children under 12 in the United States. The Act requires all newly designed children's products to be tested by a third-party testing company approved by the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). The testing company must provide a report that establishes compliance with all the relevant safety standards to be submitted to the CPSC for compliance.
The CPSIA does not set safety standards for toys itself, but requires that you as a manufacturer, supplier, or importer of children's toys in the US certify that your product complies with all applicable ASTM standards. While most CPSIA testing processes include F963, other standards may also be required for different products.
ASTM F2923: Safety standard for children’s jewelry
16 CFR Part 1303: Ban of paint containing lead and other similar surface coatings
Associated test reports and documentation are mandatory for manufacturers intending to market and sell their toys in the US.
ASTM F963 is an internationally-recognized safety standard for toys, covering mechanical and physical properties, chemical composition and properties, electrical safety, and flammability. The international standard was developed by the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM), and it covers safety requirements for toys intended for children up to the age of fourteen. It details requirements regarding which toys must be tested and include labeling, warnings, and other guidelines. Compliance in the US was voluntary until 2009, after which it was made mandatory under CPSIA.
The following list covers some toys and items that must comply with ASTM F963
Projectile toys that might contain springs
Stuffed toys and soft toys
Wheeled toys that can be ridden
Toys that employ an elastic tether
Pacifiers and pompoms
Electric and electronic toys
ASTM F963 covers multiple aspects of toy safety, including the following:
Chemical composition and heavy metal restrictions ASTM F963 covers testing methods aimed at ensuring that the amount of heavy metals and other restricted substances present in toys—such as lead, cadmium, and phthalates—does not exceed the set limits. A product or material containing more than the set limit for a restricted substance is deemed non-compliant with ASTM F963 and would be recalled.
Mechanical and physical properties Mechanical and physical requirements include safety considerations in toy design, the absence of small or detachable parts, sharp points, and edges. These have a direct bearing on the toy design, as elements must be incorporated right from the design stage in order to comply with the standard.
Electrical safety The standard imposes regulations for toys containing electrical components or batteries, starting from the level of PCB or wiring design. High voltage safety, leakage current safety, battery safety, radio, and EMC for electronic toys are important aspects of the standard.
Flammability The standard includes regulations on the flammability of the material and parts that make up the toy to avoid fire hazards.
When designing their products, importers and manufacturers must identify which parts of ASTM F963 apply to them and incorporate those requirements into the toy designs. ASTM F963 is specific and rigorous - designing for the standard is a safe way to guarantee compliance.
The EU maintains strict toy safety regulations, which dictate its standards for toy manufacturing. Let’s look at requirements electric toys must meet for manufacturers to sell in the EU.
The EU Toy Safety Directive is the most influential and comprehensive toy safety directive in the world. It includes a list of specific and separate obligations for manufacturers, distributors, importers, and authorized representatives. It creates conformity amongst all electric toys manufactured and sold in the EU and provides guidance on who can designate issuers of notifications of conformity (third-party certification organizations). The directive provides principles that define its intentions, and finally safety requirements that European Standardization Organizations (ESOs) use to develop technical safety standards.
The RoHS (Restriction of Hazardous Substances) directive applies to all electronic products sold in the EU, including electronic toys. To be legally manufactured or sold in the EU, electrical equipment and electronic products must meet RoHS requirements. RoHS restricts the use of ten hazardous substances in all electrical and electronic products (including lead, mercury, cadmium, hexavalent chromium, polybrominated biphenyls, and polybrominated diphenyl ether and four types of phthalates). In any material substrate—such as plastic—the content of these chemicals cannot exceed 0.1% or 1000 ppm (with one exception: cadmium concentrations must not exceed 0.01% or 100 ppm due to its potency).
The Registration Evaluation Authorization & Restriction of Chemicals regulation aims at protecting human health while encouraging innovation among chemical companies by requiring them to register, demonstrate risk management, and establish safe usage guidelines for products containing certain chemical substances before they can be sold on European markets. REACH compliance has a broad scope and applies to every product manufactured, imported, or sold within the EU. The regulation aims to reduce the environmental and human health impacts of substances of very high concern (SVHC) that are considered carcinogenic, mutagenic, toxic, or bio-accumulative.
EN 71 is one of the toughest toy safety standards in the world, setting restrictions for all toys meant for children up to 14 years old. This includes educational toys such as building block sets, science kits, and comfort items like stuffed animals. The standard applies to toys and any products that could be used as toys, regardless of whether they are intended exclusively for child play. It covers physical, mechanical, performance, electrical, chemical, and functional safety aspects of toys apart from warning and labeling requirements.
Toys that contain at least one function that is dependent on electricity need to comply with EN 62115. Electric toys that fall under its scope include construction sets, electric toy computers, functional electric toys, light-emitting toys, remote-controlled cars, etc. The standard applies to all types of electric toys, regardless of the power source (batteries, transformers, solar cells, or inductive connections).
The Canadian Toy Regulation standard sets requirements for all toys and children’s products that are manufactured, imported, or sold in Canada. The Canadian Consumer Product Safety Act ( CCPSA) was established in 2011 and focuses on health or safety risks for children, caregivers, and other consumers. The standard includes regulations to protect children against a wide range of hazards including mechanical, flammability, toxicological, electrical, thermal, or other.
Though toy manufacturers, suppliers, and importers need to comply with the regulations, the standard places the responsibility of establishing and maintaining compliance on the toy company. The regulation does not mandate that a safety measure be performed, but explicitly recommends doing so as part of responsible practice. For example, in the case of toy labels certain requirements are mandatory, such as labeling on flexible film bags that pose a suffocation hazard and safety labels for electric toys. But neither age-appropriate labeling nor warning labels for choking hazards are required. Instead, toy companies are strongly encouraged to self-certify. It is important to note that Health Canada regularly inspects imported toys and can take action against a product that doesn’t comply with the CCPSA.
Compliance with the GB 6675 series is compulsory before a toy can be sold in China. The regulation covers mechanical, electrical, flammability, chemical, and electrical aspects of toy safety.
Part 1 of the code breaks down toy classifications and their relevant safety requirements. It also outlines the certification responsibilities of individual producers and importers as well as China's supervision and inspection authority. A key part of Part 1 is the set of requirements for obtaining China's Compulsory Certification (CCC), a product compliance mark required for toys produced in or sold in China. This includes, but is not limited to plastic, metal, electronic, and projectile toys. This section also lists the warning labels required for each type of toy.
In addition to these country-specific regulations, the International Organisation for Standardization (ISO) has established a set of international safety standards for toys such as ISO 8124. The standards draw inspiration from the EU's EN71 and the United States ASTM F963. ISO 8124 sets out the safety requirements for toys, while IEC 62115 and IEC 60825 address specific concerns with electronic and laser-based toys.
UL696 is the standard for electric toys written by Underwriters Laboratories, a global not-for-profit company focused on consumer product safety. It covers electric toys that are meant to be used by children over the age of 3.
The following products are covered by UL 696:
Toys that require batteries or electricity to operate.
Toys that mimic the form or function of a well-known appliance.
Toy packaging, if it is included with the toy and meant to be used as storage or for play.
Interestingly, UL 696 requires toys that mimic the function of an appliance be treated to the safety standards imposed on the actual appliance, with those requirements supplementing the UL 696.
Safety certifications for electrical toys in particular play a key part in demonstrating compliance and gaining the trust of consumers. The following are the most common safety certifications for electrical toys.
The GS Mark is a quality mark that indicates that the product has been tested and approved above and beyond European legislation on toy safety (EN 71). The GS Mark appears on all packaging material - including instructions leaflets - so it can easily be identified before purchase by consumers or retailers alike.
IECEE CB is a certification indicating that your product has been tested against international standards for electromagnetic compatibility (EMC). An IECEE's CB certificate makes it easier for manufacturers to sell their goods around the world and is accepted by more than 50 countries and certifies the safety of electrical equipment across borders.
A trusted third-party can help perform testing for some of the most rigorous testing protocols in the world. QIMA certified laboratories and expertise in electronic toy testing will ensure your product is high-quality and compliant with all the regulations of your destination market.
EU Toy Safety Directive: New Framework for Evolving Standards - Learn more details about compliance with the EU’s Toy Safety Directive EN71.
Toy Safety Business Guidance for the US - Find details about toy safety regulations in the US and compliance for small businesses.
Comprehensive Toy Safety Booklet - Learn about toy safety in various markets around the world.