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This article applies to selling in: United Kingdom

General Product Safety Directive (GPSD)

Directive 2001/95/EC on General Product Safety (the “GPSD”) aims to ensure that only safe products are made available to consumers. It defines a number of requirements for producers and distributors of products to ensure that products are safe; consumers are informed of any risks associated with products, and dangerous products can be removed.

It is your responsibility to comply with the GPSD. This material is for information purposes only. It is not intended as legal advice. We encourage you to consult your legal counsel if you have questions about the laws and regulations concerning your product, including the national laws and regulations that transpose the GPSD into EU Member State law.

What products are in the scope of the GPSD?

The GPSD applies to any new, used or reconditioned product that is intended for consumers or those where it is reasonably foreseeable that consumers may use it. This includes products supplied or made available in the course of a commercial activity, including in the context of providing a service.

The GPSD also applies to products that come within the scope of sector-specific EU legislation (e.g. Toys Directive, Cosmetics Regulation etc.) to the extent that specific requirements or standards are not covered under this sector-specific legislation.

Specifically excluded from the scope of the GPSD are pharmaceuticals, medical devices and food. These product types fall under separate legislation.

What is a “safe” product under the GPSD?

A product is safe when, under normal or reasonably foreseeable conditions of use, it does not present a risk, or if the product presents a risk that is considered to be acceptable and consistent with a high level of protection. The concept of a safe product takes into account its characteristics, packaging and presentation, special groups of consumers (e.g. the elderly or young people) and effects on other products.

Who has obligations under the GPSD?

The GPSD has obligations for “producers” and “distributors”.

You are a producer if you are the manufacturer of a product (if you are established in the EU) or you are the manufacturer’s authorised representative or any other professional in the supply chain whose activities affect the safety of a product. If you affix your name, trademark or any other distinctive mark on a product, or you recondition it, you will be considered the manufacturer (and therefore the producer) for the purposes of the GPSD.

You are a distributor if you are any other professional in the supply chain whose activities do not affect the safety of the product (for example, a reseller).

What obligations do you have as a producer?

Producers should only provide safe products to consumers. In addition, producers must provide consumers with all relevant information needed to use the product safely or take necessary precautions to mitigate any risk.

The presence of warnings does not exempt a person from compliance with the requirements of the GPSD.

The producer should also adopt measures to be kept informed of risks that their product may pose and take appropriate action to avoid these risks (including withdrawal or recall from the market, or warning consumers). Taking appropriate action (including withdrawal or recall) is to be done on a voluntary basis or on the request of a competent authority. However, if producers become aware or know that a product is not safe, they must immediately inform the competent authorities of the Member States and cooperate with them.

The precise requirements of producer obligations may vary between Member States. Examples of other measures that producers may be required to do to ensure the safety and compliance of their products include:

  • Including information on the product or its packaging for consumers, such as the identity and details of the producer and the product reference or, where applicable, the batch of products to which it belongs; and
  • Carrying out sample testing of marketed products, investigations and, if necessary, keeping a register of complaints and keeping distributors informed of such monitoring.

What obligations do you have as a distributor?

Distributors have an obligation to act with due care to help ensure compliance with the applicable safety requirements. They must not supply products which they know or should have presumed, based on the information that they have, do not comply with the relevant safety requirements.

Additional information

We strongly encourage you to visit the European Commission’s website for more information on GPSD:

General product safety directive
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