The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is a fast-growing fashion market with many opportunities for brands and retailers. However, fashion imports are governed by a strict regulations that cover everything from textiles to footwear, leather products and jewelry.
In this article we discuss the requirements for importing various types of fashion products and how you can achieve compliance. Read on to find out more!
New freedoms for women in Saudi Arabia have been granted in recent years including the right to drive, get their own passport, travel abroad and live independently. This loosening of restrictions on women extends to dress code. In 2018, the Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman said women no longer have to wear an abaya – a long, loose garment worn over clothes, typically accompanied by a black headscarfor niqab – in public. While women are still required to dress modestly, many are “opting for conservative but creative alternatives: sporty jumpsuits, business-cut robes and even kimonos”, according to The Wall Street Journal.
In 2018, Saudi Arabia also hosted its first ever Fashion Week in Riyadh, giving both local and international fashion designers an opportunity to showcase their work to a female-only audience. And then in 2019, the Ministry of Culture established the Fashion Commission to drive forward the new wave of Saudi fashion talent. These changes have heralded a new age for fashion in Saudi Arabia, with a growing market for both luxury and high-street brands.
The Saudi Standards, Metrology and Quality Organization (SASO) manages the SALEEM product safety program under which many types of products, including fashion items, are regulated.
Importers of fashion products intended for sale in Saudi Arabia are required to obtain a Product Certificate of Conformity (PCoC) from a SASO-approved Conformity Assessment Body (CB), such as QIMA, before the shipment will be able to clear customs. Before providing the certificate, the CB will verify whether the product conforms with the relevant SASO Technical Regulation which outlines specific requirements around product safety and quality, design, packaging and labelling.
Importers must be prepared to provide technical files to the CB that contain product information and testing data in order to obtain the necessary Product Certificate of Conformity.
There are some requirements that are shared among the various TRs and are not considered product-specific:
Suppliers should ensure that an effective environmental management system is in place
Information contained in labeling, warnings, or instructions must be verifiable through testing data
Labeling should be in Arabic or Arabic and English at a minimum
Products, their images, and packaging, should not violate the public law, morals, and Islamic values prevailing in Saudi Arabic
In July 2021, SASO approved the Technical Regulation (TR) for Leather Products which applies to all leather products including natural, synthetic or mixtures of both. Footwear is exempted from this TR as it is covered by a separate regulation, as well as animal hides which are considered a raw material rather than a finished product. It’s also important to note that the display and trading of endangered or forbidden animal hides is prohibited in Saudi Arabia.
Leather products intended for use by children under three years of age require Type 3 certification which involves product testing and a factory audit including product inspection. However, all other leather products require Type 1a certification which only involves product testing.
There are also guidelines laid out relating to the labeling and packaging of leather products:
Packaging should not contain lead, heavy metals, or any other substance considered harmful to human health
Product labeling should be legible and non-erasable. Font sizes are at the discretion of the manufacturer
Labeling must contain the following information: - Name and type of the product - Brand name and country of origin - Components - Leather type - Number of pieces in the package - Classification and date of manufacturing (for synthetic leather) - Classification and date of tanning (for tanned leather)
In November 2020, SASO published the Technical Regulation for Footwear and which covers men’s, women’s, children and leisure shoes as well as informal slippers, regardless of the materials used.
Professional footwear is included in the TR, however, it is subject to additional requirements under the Personal Protective Equipment and Clothing TR. Medical shoes and shoes that would be considered children’s toys are exempt.
Children’s footwear for children under 36 months requires Type 3 certification which involves a lab test report, product inspection and factory audit report. All other footwear requires Type 1a certification which only involves a lab test report.
Footwear manufacturers are obligated to ensure footwear sizing meets the requirements of the relevant standards (ISO 9407, ISO / TS 19407 and ISO / TS 19408).
In terms of packaging, manufacturers are required to:
Pack footwear in a single carton containing only one pair of shoes
Ensure packaging is sufficient to contain the product
Ensure product packaging is free of lead and heavy metals considered harmful to human health
Ensure packaging bears the appropriate recycling symbols, where applicable
The following guidelines are laid out in regard to product labeling:
Labeling must include brand name and country of origin
Labels must be attached to footwear in a manner that is difficult to remove
Published in 2018, the SASO Technical Regulation for Textile Products covers all products that contain textile fibers of at least 80% by weight including home furnishing and décor items (rugs, curtains, blankets, etc.) as well as clothing and apparel.
It should be noted that underwear and children’s textile products require Type 3 certification which involves both product testing and a product inspection/factory audit. All other textile products require Type 1a certification which involves only product testing.
The TR outlines strict testing requirements for textile products and permissible levels for specific hazardous substances. Test results should include:
Identification of pH value
Protection from hazardous chemicals - Formaldehyde - Penta chlorophenol (PCP), Tetrachlorophenol (TeCP), and Ortho Phenylphenol(OPP) - Heavy Metals (Antimony, Arsenic, Lead, Cadmium, Mercury, Copper, Total Chromium VI, Cobalt, and Nickel)
Dyes and Derived Substances Considered Dangerous - Azo dyes Carcinogenic dyes and disperse dyes - Flame retardants - Insecticides, herbicides, and fungicides - Organic chlorinated compounds (Chlorinated Benzenes, Toluenes, and Naphtalenes) - Phthalates - Organotin
For textile products, the TR also lays out specific requirements for labeling and packaging as follows:
Labeling must be sewn or fixed in a way that is difficult to remove and positioned on the product in a manner that is common to the textile industry
The trademark or brand name is allowed on the label as long as it does not include, in partial or in full, the name of the fiber or any other name that might mislead the consumer
Labeling must include the fiber components as listed in Annex 3 of the Technical Regulation written clearly and in a font size that is easy for the consumer to read
Labels must include the following information: - List of fibers and the mass percentages for each - Weight, size, and dimensions - Supplier’s name and commercial register on external packaging - Country of Origin - Care instructions including appropriate symbols for washing/cleaning
The Technical Regulation also identifies labeling requirements specific to fiber content that covers the following: - Use of “pure” in the composition description - Describing wool by “Raw Wool” - Multi fiber textile products - Decorative fibers and supporting fibers - Multi component textile products - Textile products containing non textile parts of animal origin - Technical information for the label
QIMA is a SASO-approved Conformity Assessment Body providing Product and Shipment Certificates of Conformity for products intended for sale in Saudi Arabia. Our team of experts have in-depth knowledge of Saudi regulations and the SASO certification process to ensure your products can clear customs quickly. We offer exceedingly fast turnaround, with PCoC delivered within 5 days and SCoC delivered within 24 hours provided all prerequisites are met at the beginning of the process.
Contact us today to learn more!