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The safety of toys

Toys placed on the European market are subject to a high level of safety. The harmonisation carried out in 1988 is accompanied by safety requirements for the manufacturing and marketing of these products. However, technological progress in the toy sector and the definition of minimum requirements for internal market surveillance necessitate changes in the legislation.


Directive 2009/48/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 18 June 2009 on the safety of toys (Text with EEA relevance).


Toys are subject to safety requirements and rules on their movement in the European Union (EU). Toys are products which are designed or intended, whether or not exclusively, for use by children under fourteen years of age. A list of products which may be used by children but are not considered as toys is available in Annex I of this Directive.

Safety requirements

It must be possible to use toys placed on the market without any danger to health or safety during all of their foreseeable and normal period of use. They are to comply with:

  • the essential safety requirements regarding age, children’s behaviour and the rules of use of chemicals;
  • specific safety provisions (listed in Annex II), concerning physical, mechanical, electrical and chemical properties, flammability, hygiene and radioactivity.

Warnings are to appear on products specifying the appropriate conditions and limitations of use.

Products which meet the safety requirements may circulate freely on Community territory. They bear EC conformity marking.

Product conformity

Economic operators have a liability concerning product conformity according to their role in the distribution chain.

The manufacturer ensures that products comply with the essential and specific safety requirements and then establishes an “EC” declaration of conformity as well as evaluating the toys’ safety before they are marketed, in line with Decision 768/2008/EC.

If a manufacturer designates a representative, the mandate shall contain minimum obligations with regard to national authorities. They must be able to provide the proof of product conformity and cooperate in order to eliminate potential risks.

The importer makes sure that the products they are placing on the market are compliant. In the event of non-compliance, they inform the manufacturer and the market surveillance authorities and must, if applicable, recall the products.

The distributor verifies the conformity marking of the product before it is placed on the market. If they find that a toy is not compliant, they are to take corrective measures or withdraw the product from the market.

Member States organise market surveillance and designate notified bodies that are authorised to evaluate product conformity. The measures taken to ensure toys’ compliance with safety take account of the precautionary principle.

Products are subject to a presumption of conformity if they comply with harmonised standards published in the Official Journal of the European Union.


Directive 88/378/EEC is to be repealed as from 20 July 2011. However, Article 2 and part 3 of Annex II of the said Directive are to remain in force until 20 July 2013.

This repeal aims at aligning some provisions with Decision 768/2008 on the marketing of products in the internal market. It allows technical developments that have taken place in the toy market to be taken into account.

The Directive on the general safety of products complements this Directive, and is applicable in the absence of specific provisions governing product safety. Toys are also subject to the provisions of Directive 2001/95/EC setting out the general framework for product safety and Directive 85/374/EEC on liability for defective products.


ActEntry into forceDeadline for transposition in the Member StatesOfficial Journal

Directive 2009/48/EC



OJ L 170 of 30.6.2009


Directive 2005/84/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 14 December 2005 amending for the 22nd time Council Directive 76/769/EEC on the approximation of laws, regulations and administrative provisions of the Member States relating to restrictions on the marketing and use of certain dangerous substances and preparations (phthalates in toys and childcare articles).

Regulation (EC) No 1907/2006 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 18 December 2006 on the registration, evaluation and authorisation of chemicals, and the restrictions applicable to these substances (REACH), establishing a European Chemicals Agency, amending Directive 1999/45/EC and repealing Council Regulation (EEC) No 793/93 and Commission Regulation (EC) No 1488/94 as well as Council Directive 76/769/EEC and Commission Directives 91/155/EEC, 93/67/EEC, 93/105/EC and 2000/21/EC.

Regulation (EC) No 1272/2008 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 16 December 2008 on classification, labelling and packaging of substances and mixtures, amending and repealing Directives 67/548/EEC and 1999/45/EC and amending Regulation (EC) No 1907/2006 (Text with EEA relevance).

Last updated: 15.06.2011

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