Amended 1/6/2012: Please see the most recent post on this topic for updated information, particularly if you experienced difficulty after complying with these instructions.
This is important stuff. First of all, as much as it pains me to repeat myself, today is not the day to wrangle with semantics or diction. The term “manufacturer” is a legal designation. A Federal Legal Designation. Regardless of how you prefer to describe your business entity, you are a manufacturer even if you pay somebody else to sew things up for you.
Okay, with that out of the way, if you are a manufacturer of children’s products and produce in small batches, it is critical that you register for a small batch exemption if your sales are less than 1 million dollars from the previous calender year and you have manufactured less than 7,500 qualifying (children’s products) units. Registering for an exemption will exempt you from third party testing requirements under CPSIA. I realize that most apparel products were granted broad exemptions already but this will help you in the event your items include non-exempt components. Another thing to keep in mind is that this is just a testing exemption, you are still required to comply with standards defined under the CPSIA law.
What a minute -if you have no idea what I’m talking about, see the CPSIA category on this site. There is also a publicly accessible CPSIA section in our forum. However, since you have a lot of catching up to do, I suggest you register first (today!) and figure out what it means later.
This is a two step process. Part one is to register your business which will get you an account user ID if you don’t already have one. It is pretty straightforward. And by the way, I don’t manufacture kid’s products but I registered anyway. What can it hurt? Who knows, I might start making kid’s stuff some time this year. If it is possible you might, you should consider registering too. There is no downside; the section on your brand (name, history etc) is voluntary and you can skip that whole page. Good thing since I don’t have one.
After you request the business ID, you’ll get an email saying that the CPSC is overwhelmed with applicants but they’ve got you in the queue and will get back to you as soon as they can. This may take 12 hours, maybe more. Once they get back to you, you will need to confirm the registration by activating your account by creating a password. You may hit a snag at this point if you’re using the wrong username -say, your company name. The username was created at sign up and consists of your first and last name. Once you’ve activated your account, you can sign up as a small batch manufacturer. This is also fairly straightforward.
Again, if you register for a small batch exemption, you are exempt from third party testing requirements but you are not exempt from following the standards. You can visit the CPSC page for more information but most apparel producers fall in Group B (lower right side bar of the page). The standards that concern most of us are children’s sleepwear (16 CFR §1615 & §1616) and wearing apparel (16 CFR §1610). Sleepwear continues to be a collective thorn-in-side; most recently we debated the sizing standards for sleepwear with no respite in spite of our objections. Not that we expected any but that’s a whole other story.
Related: See this post if you’ve had problems registering or were not able to make the deadline.