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Last checked 14/05/2018

Product rules and specifications

EU-wide standards and technical specifications exist for a number of product categories. Where EU specifications exist for your product(s), you must ensure your products comply with these specifications before they can be traded freely in the EU.

Trade Helpdesk for EU product requirements

Currently around 85% of the product rules are harmonised in the EU. This means that the same rules apply in all EU countries. You can check the requirements for your product in the Trade Helpdesk database.

The trade helpdesk database offers information on the:

  • rules and regulations for your product
  • competent authorities you can contact for specific product requirements
  • VAT and excise duty rates applied to your product in the EU country of sale

Product rules in an EU country

Where no EU-wide specifications exist (about 15% of product rules are not harmonised in the EU), different specifications might apply in different EU countries. In such cases, you must only comply with the rules valid in your country. Other countries cannot forbid the sale of your product nor oblige you to modify it or do additional testing, provided you can prove that your products fulfil all the technical and quality requirements in your own country and offer a similar level of safety: this is the principle of mutual recognition.

If your products are not recognised in another country, you can call on our help and advice services.

EU governments are obliged to publish their national rules; you can check them and read more about the ‘mutual recognition' principle in the TRIS database for non-harmonised product rules.

In particular, national rules might differ on requirements relating to:

  • size/dimensions
  • weight
  • composition
  • labelling
  • packaging
  • testing

To find out which technical rules apply to specific products in each Member State or the details of competent authorities within that Member State you can consult the list of Product Contact Points.

Languages used to label products

If you sell to other businesses - and not to final consumers - there is no obligation to use a given language for your products. For sales to final consumers, you might be obliged to use the national language(s) of the country you want to export to.

Restrictions based on national rules

If your products pose a risk to the public interest (in particular on grounds of protection of health and life of humans, animals or plants, environmental protection, public security or public morality), you might not be allowed to export them freely. Your products could be forbidden if the country you want to export to can prove that its own technical requirements are essential or mandatory, and your products are not equivalent in terms of the level of safety sought.

Contact a local business support partner

Do you have questions on operating a business cross-border, for example exporting or expanding to another EU country? If so, the Enterprise Europe Network can give you free advice.

Local business support

Help & advice

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Help & advice

Contact a local business support partner

Do you have questions on operating a business cross-border, for example exporting or expanding to another EU country? If so, the Enterprise Europe Network can give you free advice. To assist the advisor in your local area to respond in a timely and correct manner, please provide as much information as possible.

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Help & advice

Product Contact Point

Your Product Contact Point can inform you on national product legislation and help you access another national market in the EU.