What requirements does my import product have to meet?

Product requirements ensure that products are safe for consumers. There are European and national product requirements you must meet as an importer. In this article, you can read where to look for product requirements. And which product requirements are common. For example, CE marking and food safety requirements for food products.

Products that you import into the EU must meet European product requirements. These are rules for safety, health and the environment. Make sure you know what the requirements are for the products you import. You can look up the relevant product requirements in Access2Markets. 

Finding product requirements

To find information on the requirements for your products, use the European Commission’s Access2Markets tool. The video below explains how to search for product requirements and other information using the tool. 

Product requirements apply within EEA

European product requirements are valid throughout the European Economic Area (EEA). The EEA consists of the EU countries and Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein. Product requirements in these three countries are equal or equivalent to EU product requirements.

Alle regels bij import weten? Gebruik Access2Markets

Product safety

There is a European directive (2001/95/EC) for general product safety. This directive applies to all non-food products that are brought into the European market. On 13 December 2024, the EU Product safety regulation (2023/988) will come into force. This will replace the general product safety directive.

As an importer, you are responsible for the safety of non-food products. Exactly what you are responsible for depends on your role. If you import products from outside the EU you have the role of importer. If you import products from an EU country you have the role of distributor. Do you put your own logo on imported products? Then you have the role of manufacturer. 

In addition to the general product safety requirements, certain products and product groups are subject to European directives with specific product requirements. For example, there are specific requirements for foodstuffs, chemical products, and many technical products. 

National legislation

Most European legislation is laid down in directives. EU member states turn these into national laws and legislation. In the Netherlands for instance, the Commodities Act and various Commodities Act Decrees contain rules that consumer products in the Netherlands must comply with. Such as the rule that the mandatory label information on pre-packaged foods must be provided in Dutch. Or the requirements for cribs and playpens regarding the height of the side walls and the distance between the bars.

EPR: extended producer responsibility

Does EPR apply to your product? Then you are also responsible for your product when it is discarded or at the end of its product life. You will face additional costs and rules, for example for collection and recycling. There are EPRs for textiles, disposable plastic, packaging, tires and cars, batteries and accumulators, and electrical and electronic equipment.

Other sources for product requirements

As well as Access2Markets, you can also find information on several product requirements on the EU website Your Europe. You can also visit the website of the Centre for the Promotion of Imports from Developing Countries (CBI). Or read these articles on importing:

There are different requirements for products. Common product requirements include CE marking requirements for technical products. But also health requirements for food products, and REACH and CLP requirements for chemicals.

CE Marking

Many technical products and various consumer products sold in the EEA are required to bear CE Marking. CE Marking indicates that a product meets certain minimum safety, health, and environmental requirements. The requirements can be found in the CE directives. The CE directives apply to several product groups, including machines, toys, medical devices, and electrical/electronic equipment.

In some cases, product groups have to comply with several directives. For high-risk products, the manufacturer must have the product inspected by an independent notified body.

Health requirements

If you import foodstuffs, you must comply with European food safety requirements. This is necessary because foodstuffs can contain substances that are harmful to human health. Food must be traceable through the entire chain of production, processing, and distribution. This ensures unsafe foodstuffs can be quickly removed from the market.

Additional requirements apply to certain foodstuffs. When importing animals or animal products, you often have to meet veterinary health requirements. You will also have to comply with health requirements when importing certain plants, vegetables, fruits, and plant products.


REACH (Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals) is a European regulation on the production of and trade in chemicals. When importing products such as chemicals, cans of paint, tubes of glue, clothing, batteries, car parts, or office supplies, you will have to deal with REACH.

You will also have to comply with provisions of the European CLP Regulation in addition to REACH. CLP stands for Classification, Labelling and Packaging. This is a European regulation that deals with the classification and labelling of chemicals.

Requirements for labels

Labels are part of the product requirements. There are rules for what you must state on labels. For example, the composition of a product, contact details of importers or manufacturers and how you use the product. The NVWA checks if the labels are correct. Each product group has its own rules:

Product liability

European directive (85/374/EEC) protects consumers from damage caused by defective products. Consumers can hold importers liable for damages. This includes personal injury and property damage. Personal damage is damage caused by death or bodily injury. Property damage is damage to another consumer's product caused by the defective product.  You can take out insurance against product liability risk. Discuss your options with an insurer.

In the cases listed below, the importer is liable for damages. In these cases, the importer is also responsible for ensuring that the imported products meet the product safety requirements.

  • If you import products from an EEA country, product liability lies with the manufacturer who produced the product within the EEA. If the product was not manufactured in the EEA, the importer (within the EEA) who imported the product from a country outside the EEA bears product liability. Importers who import products from EEA countries have the role and responsibilities of a distributor.
  • Do you import products from a non-EEA country? You as importer can be held liable for damages caused by a faulty product.

If you import products from any country (EEA or non-EEA) and sell them under your own brand name, you present yourself as the manufacturer. You bear product liability for the damage caused by a defect in the product.

Be aware of exclusions or limitations of liability in the terms and conditions or the contract with your supplier. Always try to avoid this. 

New Product Liability Directive

The European Commission wants to replace the Product Liability Directive 85/374/EEC with a new directive. Among other things, the new directive ensures that a party in the EU can always be held liable. For example, when consumers order the product directly from a manufacturer outside the EU. And there is no importer or agent of that product within the EU. In that case, the consumer can hold the fulfillment centre in the EU liable. A fulfillment centre stores products and usually packages, addresses, and ships them.
It is not yet known when the new directive will take effect.