Market Reports/Tariffs
Textiles, Apparel, Footwear and Travel Goods

European Union

Import Tariffs
Documentation/Procedures
Restrictions
Standards
Labeling
Intellectual Property Rights
Market Information

Last updated on 07/17/2015

If you have any questions about the following information, please contact Linda Martinich at the U.S. Department of Commerce- Office of Textiles and Apparel at 202-482-4058 or click here for e-mail access.

**The following information is provided only as a guide and should be confirmed with the proper authorities before embarking on any export activities.**


Import Tariffs - European Union
The EU is a customs union that provides for free trade among its 28 member states--Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Croatia, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, The Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovak Republic, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, and The United Kingdom. The EU levies a common tariff on imported products entered from non-EU countries. By virtue of the Belgium-Luxembourg Economic Union (BLEU), Belgium and Luxembourg are considered a single territory for the purposes of customs and excise.

Members of the European Union apply the EU common external tariff (CET) to goods imported from non-EU countries. Import duties are calculated on an ad valorem basis, i.e., expressed as a percentage of the c.i.f. (cost, insurance and freight) value of the imported goods.

EU: Tariffs (percent ad valorem) on Textiles, Apparel, Footwear and Travel Goods
HS Chapter/Subheading
Tariff Rate Range (%)
Yarn
-silk
5003-5006
0 - 5
-wool
5105-5110
2 - 5
-cotton
5204-5207
4 - 5
-other vegetable fiber
5306-5308
0 - 5
-man-made fiber
5401-5406/5501-5511
3.8 - 5
........................
Woven Fabric
-silk
5007
3 - 7.5
-wool
5111-5113
5.3 - 8
-cotton
5208-5212
8
-other vegetable fiber
5309-5311
4 - 8
-man-made fiber
5407-5408/5512-5516
8
........................
Knit Fabric
60
6.5 - 8
........................
Non Woven Fabric
5603
4.3
........................
Industrial Fabric
59
4 - 8
........................
Apparel
61-62
6.3 - 12
........................
Home Furnishings
including: bed, bath, kitchen linens, etc.
63
0 - 12
........................
Carpet

Footwear

Travel Goods
57

64

4202
3 - 8*

3 - 17

2.7 - 9.7

*5701.10.9000 - 8.00% MAX 2.80 EUR/M2

For more detailed tariff information, see the EU TARIC database on the EU TARIC homepage. (Use “Third country duty” under“ERGA OMNES”). The TARIC includes the various rules applying to specific products when imported into the EU's customs territory, as well as tariff suspensions, tariff quotas, preferential treatment, anti-dumping and countervailing duties, import prohibitions and restrictions, quantitative limits, export surveillance, licenses and certificates. Also see the Current Situation of Schedules of Members on the World Trade Organization website.

Tariff rates in north Cyprus tend to be higher than in the government-controlled area, depending on the product, and do not conform to the CET. Tariffs are applied based upon the origin of the goods and are divided into two categories. Goods from Turkey and EU Member States are charged lower rates than goods from all other countries (including the United States).

Binding Tariff Information (BTI)--The ultimate authority regarding products imported into the EU are the customs authorities in the Member States. Prior to signing a long-term contract or sending a shipment of considerable value, it may be prudent for U.S. exporters to first obtain an official ruling on the customs classification, duty rate, and taxes. On request, a written tariff classification decision (i.e., BTI) is provided, which is legally binding on all customs administrations within the EU. BTI is intended to provide assurance about the correct tariff classification of the goods, it is not a legal requirement. For more information on BTI and how to apply for one, see the European Binding Tariff Information website.

Taxes and Other Import Fees--VAT (value added tax) rates vary by individual EU member country. In general, the VAT charged on clothing, household linens and footwear are also the standard rates. Reduced rates may be applicable in certain member countries for children's clothing. The VAT is applied on the c.i.f. value plus duty. For more details, see the Europa-Taxation and Customs Union website. For a list of rates effective January 1, 2012, see VAT Rates Applied in the Member States of the European Union.

Samples/Temporary Entry--There are no tariffs imposed on goods intended for demonstration or exhibition at trade fairs. A refundable security deposit is required that is equal to applicable import duties. For temporary entry of samples it is usually advisable to purchase an ATA Carnet.

ATA Carnet--An ATA Carnet or "Merchandise Passport" is a document that facilitates the temporary importation of products into foreign countries by eliminating tariffs and other import taxes or charges normally required at the time of importation. For more information or to apply for an ATA Carnet, see the United States Council for International Business website.

For information on how to determine tariff rates, see the Export.gov webpage on Tariffs and Import Fees.

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Import Documentation/Procedures (European Union)

Licenses--Textile and apparel products of U.S. origin do not need an import authorization for entry into the EU. Import authorizations are only necessary for products originating in countries subject to EU quotas. To determine if a license is required for a particular product, check the TARIC database.

The Système Intégré de Gestion de Licenses - SIGL is the Directorate General for Trade's integrated system for the management of licences for imports to the EU. The SIGL website provides information on quota levels for imports of textiles, apparel and applied in the European Community.

Note that many EU member states maintain their own list of goods subject to import licensing.

Certificates of Origin--Certificates of origin are no longer required for textile and apparel products imported into the EU from the United States. Although imports claiming preferential tariff treatment under the EU's preferential trade agreements may still require a certificate of origin.

The origin of a product is established according to EU rules. Articles 35 – 38 and Annexes 9 – 10 of the Community Customs Code outline ‘non-preferential origin’ rules for textiles. ‘Preferential origin rules’ relate to the EU’s preferential agreements (e.g. with the accession countries, the Mediterranean countries, the non-EU countries belonging to the European Economic Area, the 69 Lomé countries), or under the Generalized System of Preferences, GSP. For each of these, preferential trading agreements legislation exists defining origin of products. For more information see the European Union webpage on Rules of Origin.

Binding Origin Information (BOI)--BOI is a written origin decision for preferential and non-preferential goods, which is legally binding throughout the EU. A BOI decision is not required, although it can be particularly helpful where an origin rule is difficult to interpret or where the circumstances of manufacture of a product make application of a rule difficult. For more information, see the European Union webpage on Rules of Origin for more information.

For more information on local customs rules and regulations:
European Commission Taxation and Customs Union DG

Member States customs websites

For information on common export documents, such as transportation documents, export compliance documents, certificates of origin, certificates for shipments of specific goods, temporary shipment documents, and other export-related documents, see the Export.gov webpage on Common Export Documents.

For more information on import procedures and documentation requirements, see the Country Commercial Guides (CCG) in the U.S. Commercial Service Market Research Library (enter your country of interest in the "country" field, and enter "Country Commercial Guide (CCG)" in the "Report Type" field. Some market research reports are available only to U.S. companies and U.S. students/researchers that are registered with Export.gov.

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Import Restrictions (European Union)
To determine if a product is prohibited or subject to restriction, see the TARIC database for the specific product, and look for the following codes:
  • CITES - Convention on International Trade of Endangered Species
  • PROHI - Import Suspension
  • RSTR - Import Restriction
AZO Dye Restrictions--EU directive 2002/61/EC and communication 2003/C 214/02 restrict the marketing and use of certain dangerous substances used in textile and leather products. The directives states that Azo dyes, which may release certain aromatic amines in detectable concentrations above 30 ppm in the finished articles or in the dyed parts, may not be used in textile and leather articles that may come into direct and prolonged contact with the human skin or oral cavity, such as:
  • clothing, bedding, towels, hairpieces, wigs, hats, nappies and other sanitary items, sleeping bags,
  • footwear, gloves, wristwatch straps, handbags, purses/wallets, briefcases, chair covers, purses worn round the neck,
  • textile or leather toys and toys which include textile or leather garments,
  • yarn and fabrics intended for use by the final consumer.
The following test method standards may be obtained for a fee from the European Committee for Standardization (CEN) website:
  1. EN 14362-1:2003: Textiles - Methods for the determination of certain aromatic amines derived from azo colorants - Part 1: Detection of the use of certain azo colorants accessible without extraction
  2. EN 14362-2:2003: Textiles - Methods for determination of certain aromatic amines derived from azo colorants - Part 2: Detection of the use of certain azo colorants accessible by extracting the fibers
Restrictions on certain finding and trimmings in apparel--According to EU regulations (Annex '28 CAS No 7440-0-20 EINECS No 2311114) nickel and its compounds may not be used in products intended to come in contact with the skin, such as rivet buttons, tighteners, rivets, zippers and metal marks, if the rate of nickel released from the parts of these products coming into direct and prolonged contact with the skin is greater than 0,5 ig/cm 2/week. Also, in those products listed above where they have a non-nickel coating unless such coating is sufficient to ensure that the rate of nickel release from those parts if such products coming into direct and prolonged contact with the skin will not exceed 0,5 ig/cm 2/week for a period of at least two years of normal use of the product. Apparel must conform to these requirements in order to enter the EU market.

Ban on Fur from Animals Caught in Leghold Traps--In 1991, the EU adopted a Regulation banning the use of leghold traps in the EU. The Regulation also requires a ban on imports of fur and fur products of certain species from countries that either do not ban leghold traps or do not conform their trapping practices to internationally agreed humane trapping standards. In December 1997, United States and the EU signed an agreement on humane trapping standards, which should permit continuing access of U.S.-sourced fur and fur-products to the European market.

U.S. Export Restrictions:

The Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) in the U.S. Department of the Treasury administers and enforces economic and trade sanctions against targeted foreign countries, terrorists, and international narcotics traffickers and their agents in accordance with U.S. foreign policy and national security goals. The OFAC website includes summaries of sanctions programs for various countries and the “Specially Designated Nationals and Blocked Persons” (SDNs) list of entities and individuals with whom U.S. persons may not conduct business and whose property must be blocked if under the control of a U.S. person.

The Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) in the U.S. Department of Commerce is responsible for implementing and enforcing the Export Administration Regulations (EAR), which regulate the export and re-export of most commercial items. BIS maintains the Denied Persons List, which consists of individuals, and companies that have been denied export and re-export privileges by BIS, and the Entity List, which consists of foreign end users who pose an unacceptable risk of diverting U.S. exports and the technology they contain to alternate destinations for the development of weapons of mass destruction

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Standards - European Union
The main regulations for selling textiles, apparel and footwear in the EU follow:
--General Product Safety Directive (GPSD) - 2001/95/EC
--European Labelling Directives (see section on Labeling below)
--REACH (Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals) - EC1907/2006
In addition, occupational/safety clothing and footwear are subject to:
--Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) Directive 89/686/EEC

The regulations listed above are mandatory throughout the European Economic Area (EEA), which, in addition to the 28 EU Member States, includes Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway. Individual countries may have their own additional requirements, e.g., labeling of the country of origin or specific flammability regulations.

General Product Safety Directive (GPSD) - 2001/95/EC
The GPSD is intended to ensure a high level of product safety throughout the EU for consumer products that are not covered by specific sector legislation. The Directive provides a generic definition of a safe product. In addition to the basic requirement to place only safe products on the market, producers must inform consumers of the risks associated with the products they supply. They also must take appropriate measures to prevent such risks and be able to trace dangerous products.

Where products are not regulated by specific EU technical legislation, they are always subject to the GPSD, as well as to possible additional national requirements. See European Commission General Product Safety website for more information, as well as a list of standards that may apply to various textile, apparel and footwear products.

Products tested and certified in the United States to U.S. standards are likely to have to be retested and recertified to EU requirements.

Rapid Alert System for dangerous non-food products (RAPEX)
The GPSD provides for an alert system between Member States and the Commission. The RAPEX system ensures that the relevant authorities are rapidly informed of dangerous products. In the case of serious product risks, temporary decisions can be taken on Community-wide measures. Under certain conditions, the Commission may adopt a formal Decision requiring the Member States to ban the marketing of a product posing a serious risk, to recall it from consumers or to withdraw it from the market.

Registration, Evaluation and Authorization of Chemicals (REACH)--REACH requires all chemicals produced or imported into the EU in volumes above 1 ton per year to be registered. This includes, all products, such as textiles and apparel, that may contain chemicals or chemical products. For more information, see the European Commission REACH website. U.S. exporters may also find helpful information and assistance on the U.S. Commercial Service EU REACH webpage.

Biocidal Products Regulation (BPR) - EU 528/2012 (amending regulation 334/2014)
Whenever biocidal products are added to textiles, apparel, or footwear to give them specific properties (e.g., repel insects or avoid allergens) the provisions of the BPR must be followed. Under the regulations, articles can only be treated with active substances that have been approved in the EU for that purpose. The BPR requires manufacturers and importers of treated articles to label these when:
1. a claim is made that the treated article has biocidal properties
2. conditions of the approval of the active substance used to treat the article require specific labeling provisions to protect public health or the environment.

As under REACH, the BPR permits consumers to request that suppliers of treated articles provide information on the biocidal treatment. For more information, see the European Commission Environment website on biocidal products.

Note: Suppliers of anti-microbial packaging materials must follow the BPR requirements.

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) Directive 89/686/EEC
The PPE Directive covers clothing and footwear designed to be worn by individuals for protection against one or more health and safety hazards. It is intended to ensure that any personal protective equipment placed on the EU market meets its intended purpose. All products that come under the scope of the Directive and are placed on the market in an EU country must be CE marked. (see information below on CE Marking)

The PPE Directive does not define how particular types of product must be tested. It only includes health & safety requirements that need to be taken into account. However, the European Commission has mandated the development of various product safety standards via the European Standards agency CEN (Comite Europeen de Normalisation). A manufacturer can use any technical specification, as long as it can be shown to satisfy the relevant PPE Directive essential safety requirements. However, if a European harmonized standard is available, a sound technical argument must be provided for not using it. For more information see the Commission website on Personal Protective Equipment.

CE Marking--To sell certain products in the 28 EU member states, as well as in Norway, Liechtenstein, Switzerland, Turkey and Iceland, U.S. exporters are required to apply CE marking whenever their product is covered by specific product legislation. The CE mark certifies that a product has met EU health, safety, and environmental requirements, which ensure consumer and workplace safety. Once a manufacturer has earned a CE mark for its product, the CE mark may be affixed to the product, and then the product may be marketed throughout the EU without having to undergo further modifications in each member state.

Unfortunately, there is no comprehensive list of the products that require a CE mark. Therefore, it is the manufacturer's responsibility to determine if a product requires a CE mark from various directives issued by the European Commission. Certain textile, apparel and footwear products are subject to CE marking and certification under the following EU directives: Safety of Toys, Medical Devices, Construction Products and Personal Protective Equipment. For more information, see the Export.gov webpage on CE marking.

Requirements specific to Textiles, Apparel and Footwear

Apparel

Apparel Flammability--There are no specific textile/apparel flammability requirements at the EU level. The GPSD provides the framework that covers flammability, although it does not specifically address requirements. The use of voluntary standards helps comply with the GPSD. European Standard EN 14878-Burning Behaviour of Children’s Nightwear-Specification is a voluntary European standard, with test methods under EN 1103-Fabric For Apparel-Detailed Procedure for Determination of the Burning Behaviour.

The UK, Ireland and the Netherlands have requirements regarding the flammability of nightwear. Ireland requires nightwear to comply with the same regulations as applied in the UK. The Netherlands has safety requirements for all kinds of clothing, including nightwear. In Portugal and Lithuania, flammability regulations only apply to the work wear in professions at risk such as fire-fighters.

In the UK requirements (technical and labeling) on the flammability of nightwear are laid down in The Nightwear (Safety) Regulations-1985. Flammability performance requirements are specified in UK standard BS 5722-Flammability Performance of Fabric and Fabric Assemblies Used in Sleepwear and Dressing Gowns. BS 5438-Methods of test for Flammability of Vertically Orientated Textile Fabrics and Fabric Assemblies describes how to burn the fabrics for compliance with BS5722. However, most buyers in the UK use EN 14878 as proof of compliance to the General Product Safety Regulations. For sales in the UK market--if the EN 14878 standard differs from the UK regulations, the one with the stricter requirements should be followed. See also the New requirements for the fire safety of children’s nightwear – Nightwear Advisory Note 2008.

In the Netherlands requirements (technical and labeling) on the flammability of clothing are laid down in the “Covenant fire safety of nightwear”, which are referred to in the Enforcement Agreements regarding the fire safety of clothing. The Dutch requirements apply to two types of clothing: nightwear and clothing other than nightwear. Clothing must be made of cloth that meets the flammability test conforming to ASTM D1230. Nightwear must meet the flammability test conforming to EN 1103 and NEN 1722 surface flash test.

In Portugal and Lithuania, regulations only apply to the work wear in professions at risk, such as fire-fighters.

Drawstrings in Children’s Clothing--European standard EN 14682-Safety of Children’s Clothing – Cords & Drawstrings on Children’s Clothing contains specific baseline requirements to ensure that cords and drawstrings are placed safely on children garments. EN 14682 is a “harmonized” standard that is directly referenced by the GSPD making it a mandatory standard in all EU member states. Producers must ensure that garments they place on the EU market are safe. Also importers, distributors and retailers are required to act with due care to ensure that products they supply to consumers are safe.

EN 14682 specifies requirements for cords and drawstrings on children’s clothing, including costumes and skiwear, up to the age of 14. The standard does not apply to child care and use articles such as bibs, nappies and soother holders, gloves, hats, scarves, neckties designed to be worn with a shirt or blouse, belts or braces, specialist sportswear or theatrical costumes worn for limited periods. Specific requirements are divided in to two main categories, according to the age of the children:
--Children up to 7 years – corresponding to children with a height up to 134 cm
--Children 7-14 – corresponding to a height greater than 134cm and up to 182 cm for boys or 176 cm for girls

In addition, some EU member states also maintain national guidelines and regulations. For example, in the UK, the Hoods and Cords Regulation specifies that the hoods of children’s outer garments must not be designed to be secured by means of cords drawn through the material.

Actions against the noncompliant and dangerous garments include withdrawal from the market, recall from consumers and ban on sales. Noncompliance to EN 14682 is the major reason for product notifications/recalls in the EU RAPEX (Rapid Alert System for non – food Dangerous Products).

For more information, see the European Commission webpage re. European standard EN 14682.

It should be noted that there are differences between the EU and U.S. requirements, such as the clothing sizes regulated and the length of cords regulated.

Textiles

Textiles Flammability--Some EU member states have legislation on the flammability of products such as furniture, carpets, curtains, and car seats. In the UK, testing and labeling requirements for furniture and furnishing are laid down in “the Furniture and Furnishings (Fire Safety) Regulations. Austria, Finland, and France also have textile flammability regulations.

Some European standards for furniture flammability follow:
--EN 1021-1: Furniture-Assessment of the ignitability of upholstered furniture: Smouldering cigarette
--EN 597-1:1994 – Furniture-Assessment of the ignitability of mattresses and upholstered bed bases - Part 1: Ignition source: Smoldering cigarette
--EN 597-2:1994 – Furniture-Assessment of the ignitability of mattresses and upholstered bed bases - Part 2: Ignition source: Match flame equivalent

Carpet CE Marking--Carpeting sold in the EU must have a CE marking, as required under the Construction Products Directive (89/106/EEC). Under the directive, materials intended for construction must comply with health, safety and environmental requirements as follows: mechanical strength and stability; fire safety; hygiene, health and environment; safety of use; sound nuisance; and energy savings and heat retention. Attesting the conformity of a floor covering with the requirements of EN 14041 must be done in part by the producer, but may also require third party testing and certification. A construction product is defined as any product that is produced for incorporation in a permanent manner in a construction project, thus various other textile products could be covered. For more information, see the U.S. Commercial Service report on The European Union’s Directive on Construction Products.

Footwear

Certain chemicals/substances to be aware of:
--REACH Annex XVII restriction of chromium VI and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH)
--Dimethylfumarate - DMFA is listed in Annex XV of REACH; all applied Polyurethane-Materials should
meet 0,1% (1000ppm; (O)) Test Method: Solvent Extraction – GS/MS
--Hexavalent chromium (chrome VI) in aged leather
--Phenylmercury

Protection against chemicals--Footwear providing protection against hazardous chemicals falls into the PPE Directive ‘complex design’ category. The European standard - EN 13832-3 - Footwear Protecting against Chemicals gives details of the tests to be carried out on such footwear and the requirements to be met. The standard for safety and occupational footwear - EN ISO 20345-7, covers issues such as physical performance of the upper and outsole materials, and criteria for other protective features offered by the footwear - including protection to the toes against impact.

Slip resistance for occupational footwear--The PPE Directive lists basic health & safety requirements and specifically covers the prevention of falls due to slipping. For safety, protective and occupational PPE footwear, tests are carried out according to a set of test standards in EN ISO 20344. Generally, EN ISO 13287:2007 is used to certify safety, protective and occupational footwear. However, this standard is not suitable for some specialized footwear.

The performance specifications, including those for slip resistance, are provided in the following standards:
• EN ISO 20345 for safety footwear
• EN ISO 20346 for protective footwear
• EN ISO 20347 for occupational footwear.
Additional standards exist for footwear used in other activities, such as those of chainsaw operators and motorcyclists.

Local standards organization and other resources:

European Committee for Standardization - CEN
CEN/TC 248-Textiles and textile products

European Commission - European Standards

Commission’s Technical Regulations Information System - TRIS (technical regulations)

U.S. Commercial Service-U.S. Mission to the European Union: EU Standards and CE Marking.

Market-Specific (Standards) Information - Europe

The National Center for Standards and Certification Information (NCSCI) at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) in the U.S. Department of Commerce provides information on U.S. and foreign standards, technical regulations, and conformity assessment procedures for non-agricultural products. NCSCI staff responds to requests for information by identifying relevant standards and regulations, and by referral to the appropriate standards-developers or private-sector organizations. Under copyright restrictions, NCSCI cannot provide copies of standards, but NCSCI does provide sources for accessing standards.

U.S. companies can register for the Notify U.S. service to learn about and comment on proposed changes to foreign standards, technical regulations, and conformity assessment procedures that may affect U.S. access to global markets.

Additional resources:

Examples of voluntary formaldehyde labeling programs

American Apparel and Footwear Association's Restricted Substances List

American National Standards Institute (ANSI)

International Organization for Standardization (ISO)

Footwear Distributors and Retailers of America (FDRA) 2014 global guidebook on Understanding Chemical and Physical Requirements for Footwear

ASTM International


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Labeling - European Union
EU member countries have varying regulations pertaining to the marking, labeling and packaging of products and currently there is no one EU-wide law covering the various requirements. See European Union: EU Marking, Labeling and Packaging – An Overview (attached below) for a general introduction to the marking, labeling and packaging requirements in the EU.
EU labeling.pdf

Member states generally specify that the national language be used on the label. There are 24 official national languages in the EU. Sometimes use of the national language is not required, but that is only true in exceptional cases, such as goods for professional use. See the U.S. Commercial Service publication "EU: Language Requirements for Product Labels" for general guidance on this issue.

Textile and apparel products
Textile and apparel products placed on the EU market must have a label clearly identifying the fiber content. In addition, national mandatory label requirements may also apply. See the OTEXA Labeling Requirements table for a summary of possible requirements applied by individual EU member countries.

In general, surveillance and inspection of the conformity of products to the information provided on the labels are carried out at different stages of the supply chain, which, in the case of imported products, ranges from customs clearance to retail outlets. The responsibility for compliance marking and labeling regulations generally falls on the importer. Exporters should carefully follow importer's instructions as failure to do so can cause customs delays and extra expenses.

Fiber content labeling--EU regulations require that textile products be labeled to show fiber content as specified in Regulation No 1007/2011 on textile fiber names and related labeling and marking of the fiber composition of textile products. The fiber content labeling is mandatory in all stages of the industrial processing and commercial distribution of the product. The placement of the label depends on the type of textile product. Products sold by the meter need to be labelled only on the piece or roll offered for sale. Other products sold by units or pieces should be marked individually, however if two or more textile products with the same fiber content usually constitute an indivisible set they might carry a single label. The language depends on the requirements of the member country in which the product is ultimately sold.

For more information see the EU's Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) on Regulation (EU) No 1007/2011 on textile names and related labelling and marking of textile products.

Fur and Leather content labeling--Any use of animal-derived materials (i.e., real fur and leather) will have to be clearly stated on apparel labels.

Care labeling--Care labeling provides information on recommended methods for cleaning textile and apparel products, i.e., washing, bleaching, ironing, dry cleaning and tumble drying. There is no harmonized EU legislation on care labeling and, with the exception of Austria, it is not mandatory to include care labels when exporting to the EU. Nevertheless, the use of care labels is recommended as the manufacturer can be held liable under the EU Product Liability Directive if a problem occurs.

If a care label is attached it should incorporate care symbols, which are published in the European standard EN 23758 (1994). Additional text may be included but it is not mandatory. The EU textile care symbols are generally based on the ISO 3758 standard, which are based on the care symbols developed by GINETEX. These symbols are registered as international trademarks by GINETEX and the manufacturer may have to pay a fee to the national agency to use them in certain markets.

Country of Origin labeling--At present, there is no EU legislation on country of origin labeling for textile, apparel and footwear products, although some member countries may require the origin to be listed on the label.

Flammability labeling--See the Standards section above for information regarding flammability labeling.

Size labeling--A standard has been developed for labeling clothes sizes, EN 13402, based on body dimensions and measured in centimeters. EN 13402 was supposed to replace many older national dress-size systems, starting in the year 2006. However, the standard reportedly has not been fully accepted in all EU member states.

Footwear
Footwear must be labeled with information relating to material content of the upper, the lining and insole sock, and the outer-sole of the footwear article. The information must be conveyed by means of approved pictograms or text, as defined by the European Labelling Directive for Footwear - 94/11/EC. The label must be legible, firmly secured and accessible. The manufacturer or authorized agent established in the Community is responsible for supplying the label and for the accuracy of the information contained therein. Also see, "Evaluation Report on the Implementation of Directive 94/11/EC: Labelling of materials used in the main components of footwear".

Protective occupational shoes are exempted from this labelling obligation as they are subject to conformity labeling under directive 89/686/EEC on Personal Protective Equipment (see PPE information in the Standards section above).

Travel Goods
Travel goods of textile materials, as well as all travel goods, are not subject to mandatory labelling--except those considered protective equipment, which are subject of conformity marking CE.

European Eco-label--The eco-label is officially endorsed by the EU and can be placed on a range of products that meet high standards of environmental awareness, which are sold across the EU and EEA (Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein) countries. Participation in the eco-label scheme is voluntary. While not required, companies may consider this label to improve consumer perception of the product. For more information, see the European Eco-label website.

In the case of textiles, the label is awarded to products if: substances with harmful effects on the aquatic environment and air have been limited during fiber production, the risk of allergic reactions has been reduced, the product does not shrink more than conventional products, the product is as color resistant against washing, drying friction and light exposure as conventional products. For a product made outside the European Community, an application must be submitted to the designated authorities of the Member States in which the product is to be or has been placed on the market. Applications for the award of an Eco-label are subject to payment of a fee. In addition, there is an annual fee for the use of the label.

A European Ecolabel was established for footwear in 1999. It applies to all categories of footwear, including sports, occupational, children's, men's, and women's; and specialist footwear for cold, casual use, fashion, and indoors.

The German label Öko-tex is also a widely used eco-label in Europe. It is a recognized measure of ecological and health consciousness, and is widely used in the textile production sector in Europe123. In order to mark and advertise textile products with the Öko-tex label, all components, including accessories, must meet the specified requirements and be certified. For more information, see the International Oeko-Tex Association website.

Sun-safe testing and labeling for apparel--Two standards that specify the materials for protective garments and their marking are EN 13758, part 1 (method of test for apparel fabrics) and part 2 (classification and marking). The designated pictogram of a sun with the CEN reference number and the number "40+" can be attached to the garment if it is in compliance with the Ultraviolet Protection Factor (UPF), which must be at least 40, and fulfill certain design requirements as specified in the standard. See the CEN website for more information.

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Intellectual Property Rights - European Union
The IPR regime in the EU is governed by both Community-wide legislation and legislation in the Member States. The EU aims to create a single system for the protection of intellectual property rights (Community trademarks, designs, and patents) with Community-wide effect through the filing of a single application. For more information, see the European Commission Intellectual Property website.

For information on copyrights, see the European Commission Copyright and Neighbouring Rights website.

The EU-wide Community Trademark (CTM) can be obtained via a single language application to the Office of Harmonization in the Internal Market (OHIM) in Alicante, Spain or at a national office.

Trademark Exhaustion--Within the EU, the rights conferred on trademark holders are subject to the principle of "exhaustion." Exhaustion means that once trademark holders have placed their product on the market in one Member State, they lose the right to prevent the resale of that product in another EU country. This has led to an increase in the practice of so called "parallel importing" whereby goods bought in one Member State are sold in another by third parties unaffiliated to the manufacturer.

Branded products may not be imported into the EU without the permission of the manufacturer. Exporters of goods bearing a registered trademark should be aware that the trademark owner may pursue legal action to protect their trademark rights. Exporters are advised to contact the manufacturer and get written permission before trying to market name brand goods in to the EU. Parallel imports within the European Economic Area zone, i.e., the EU member countries and Norway, Liechtenstein and Iceland, is permissible.

Under the Registered Community Design system, holders of eligible designs can use an inexpensive procedure to register them with OHIM, and will then be granted exclusive rights to use the designs anywhere in the EU for up to twenty-five years. Unregistered Community designs that meet the Regulation’s requirements are automatically protected for three years from the date of disclosure of the design to the public.

The most effective way for a company to secure a patent across a range of EU national markets is to use the services of the European Patent Office (EPO). The EPO offers a one-stop-shop that enables rights holders to get a bundle of national patents using a single application. Other methods for filing patents in EU Member States is through the national procedure, with the competent national authority or through the international procedure, available under the Patent Cooperation Treaty.

Transatlantic IPR Resource Portal. The goal of the portal is to help companies on both sides of the Atlantic fully utilize all the IPR-related resources and tools developed by both governments.

See the European Union, Croatia and Italy IPR Toolkits on the STOPFAKES.gov website.

For information on protecting your trademarks, patents and copyrights:

Export.gov --Protecting Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) Abroad

StopFakes.gov


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Market Information - European Union

See the European Commission – Growth (previously DG Enterprise and Industry) for information on the following sectors:
-Fashion and high-end industries
-Textiles and clothing
-Footwear

Also see European Commission - Growth - Medical devices

Informative Tool on light Industries (ITI) - EUROSTAT data on textile, clothing, leather, wood, printing, paper, furniture and footwear industries.

Your Europe, your opportunity - Practical guide to doing business in Europe website.


Government Procurement-- See Global Procurement Opportunities for U.S. exporters.

Other Government Procurement websites:
U.S. companies may contact the U.S. Commercial Service for information and personalized counseling at every step of the exporting process. Find a U.S. Export Assistance Center near you or contact an international office.

Other sources for market information and data:

The U.S. Commercial Service Market Research Library contains more than 100,000 industry and country-specific market reports, authored by specialists working in overseas posts. Some market research reports are available only to U.S. companies and U.S. students/researchers that are registered with Export.gov. Available reports are listed below.

  • The EU Chemical Regulation: REACH (European Union 8/26/2013)
  • Exporting Textiles and Textile Products to the European Union – Frequently Asked Questions (European Union - 5/4/2015)
  • UK: Plus Size Women's Wear (1/4/2011)

OTEXA Export Market Report (U.S. export data for textiles, apparel, footwear and travel goods)

Export.gov Trade Data & Analysis webpage

U.S. Department of Agriculture, Foreign Agricultural Service

U.S. Department of State - U.S. Embassies, Consulates, and Diplomatic Missions and
U.S. Department of State Country Background Notes

U.S. Office of the Trade Representative

Local Industry and Trade Associations

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Office of Textiles and Apparel (OTEXA)
U.S. Department of Commerce
Washington, DC 20230
Phone: (202) 482-5078  |  Fax: (202) 482-2331
OTEXA@trade.gov