CPSIA: If you make kid’s products, you MUST do this TODAY

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.

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  1. CPSC Commissioner Nancy Nord has something to say about the registration process. If you’re new to all of this, don’t expect her to be an apologist for the agency that employs her. She says in part:

    Remember when you were a kid and you really wanted nothing more than to go out and play, but your parents said you couldn’t until you cleaned your room? Did you try to get by with just shoving everything in the closet? That worked right up until the door was opened and everything tumbled out, revealing the sloppiness of your effort. Now replace the child with a federal agency, and replace parental orders with congressional mandates. That’s what’s happening at the CPSC.

    Like a child who “cleans” his room by stuffing everything into the closet, the CPSC rushed through a congressionally-mandated small-batch–manufacturers registry sloppily and at the last minute. As a result the agency may be failing to protect the very people the registry was supposed to protect.

  2. katie z. says:

    I am running into significant slow-downs on this… I don’t have company letterhead or an email directly affiliated with my business (I have an etsy shop and a gmail address), so now I have further rigamarole to submit or my application is rejected. This seems to be a ludicrous requirement for a small batch exemption. How much money do they think I have if I run a TINY etsy shop?

  3. Kathleen says:

    I had the same issue because my email address didn’t conform to company name. It’s really quite silly. I also don’t have letterhead -I don’t send letters anymore. CPSC is being very archaic. The solution could be to create a letterhead template in a word processor. Then write your objections, save it to pdf and email it back.

    I will make a note of this to the CPSC ombudsman.

  4. I am sure it’s not on purpose, but I think you are misleading people just a little. I think registering is the last thing a small business should do, because it doesn’t exempt you from ANYTHING. We have complied with all the rules as they have come down the pike, but we are at the end of the road, meaning we just can’t print youth apparel until something changes. Screen printing youth apparel is not cost effective, no one wants to wait 4 to 6 weeks for their order and pay $40.00 a shirt for a $10.00 shirt. We don’t have to test our inks if the manufacture will test but the manufacture of our ink says it isn’t feasable to test every batch since they make 40 to 60 batches a day. Where would they store the ink while waiting 4 to 6 weeks for the test to come back. The other thing is white ink has a shelf life so that means that when I buy white ink that has been tested I have lost a whole month of the shelf life. A good resource for information on this is the SGIA http://www.sgia.org/resources/9things_1211.cfm If you are a member you have access to archived webinares one of which talks about this very subject. They have been very good about helping even non members stay up on this issue. The only reason I even spent the time to comment is there are so many people out there that think just because their ink doesn’t have lead in it that they are complying with the law. I have news for them, there hasn’t been lead in screen print ink for over 40 years.

  5. Kathleen says:

    Thanks for your input Jeanne. I have a couple of points in response.

    First, if I’ve misled anyone it is absolutely unintentional but I think your statements could also be misleading (and also, probably not on purpose either).

    Second, however much I dislike or believe to be unfounded, a statute, law, policy etc from any statutory, regulatory or enforcement body, it would be nothing short of irresponsible for me to advocate noncompliance. If you feel strongly about it, you’re free to express that opinion as you have here or on your own site but I’m not going to do it.

    Third, I would agree that the exemption doesn’t help you much but that doesn’t hold for everyone. Regardless of whether it helps you, everyone or hardly anyone, I cannot exhort readers generally to not avail themselves to whatever remedies there may be. Again, to do otherwise would be irresponsible.

    Fourth, I agree that the SGIA is an excellent resource and I thank you for pointing it out.

  6. Mark says:


    I noticed that you stated that “…if your sales are less than 1 million dollars from the previous calender year or you have manufactured less than 7,500 qualifying…” the or should be an and. http://www.cpsc.gov/info/toysafety/smallbatch.html is a good source for this.

    It states “…First, it must attest that its total gross revenue from the prior calendar year (e.g., calendar year 2011 sales to qualify for calendar year 2012) from the sale of all consumer products is $1 million or less. Second, it must attest that it manufactured no more than 7,500 units of the covered product that qualifies the Small Batch Manufacturer for registration”.

    Just trying to help.

  7. Kathleen, I think you misunderstood me. I would never advocate noncompliance. We are complying in every way, that is why we are not printing youth shirts, but there are so many businessed out there that don’t understand that they can’t just not test just because their ink is lead free. The only think I was trying to say is that the exemption does not exempt you from testing and that is what it sounded like you were saying. As a screen printer my ink must be tested to be legal. Weather I have registered to be exempt or not. I am only talking about the apparel industry. Just the other day I was in a shop that had just printed youth shirts for a City no less. When I ask them what they were doing to comply they said “Oh our ink doesn’t have lead in it so we don’t have to do anything.” They weren’t even labeling the shirts. I didn’t say anything further. What do do! Just yesterday I lost a job that would have been several thousand dollars because they didn’t want to pay the price shirts would cost once we test the ink. They said they would just go some place that didn’t care about testing the ink.

  8. Sorry for all the typos in the previous, it’s late. I just want to put a list of the items that registering exempts you from. This is right off the CPSIA’s site. Notice at the bottom it says you still have to provide a general certificate of conformity (GCC). A GCC must have on it where and when the product was tested so it must be tested. If it is tested before it gets to you, and you get a GCC with it then you need to take that GCC and make your own GCC to pass on to the end user. All I was saying in my first post is that there isn’t really much, if any difference as to what you have to do to comply weather you register or not.
    From the CPSIA site:
    Qualifying small batch manufacturers registered with the Commission are NOT required to third party test for the following children’s product safety rules (Group B):

    •ASTM F963-08 Toy Safety Standard;
    •Total Lead Content in Children’s Products, Sec. 101 of the CPSIA;
    •Ban on certain phthalates in children’s toys and certain child care articles, Sec. 108 of the CPSIA;
    •Bicycle helmets, 16 CFR §1203;
    •Bunk beds, 16 CFR §1213 and 1513;
    •Rattles, 16 CFR §1510;
    •Dive sticks, 16 CFR §1500.86 (pdf);
    •Bicycles, 16 CFR §1512;
    •Carpets and rugs, 16 CFR §1630 and §1631;
    •Vinyl plastic film, 16 CFR §1611;
    •Wearing apparel, 16 CFR §1610;
    •Clacker balls, 16 CFR §1500.86 (pdf);
    •Children’s sleepwear, 16 CFR §1615 and §1616;
    •Electronically operated toys, 16 CFR §1505;
    •ATVs, 16 CFR. §1420; and
    •Mattresses, 16 CFR §1632.

    With respect to Group B, qualifying small batch manufacturers will need to ensure that the products comply with those regulations and issue a general certificate of conformity (GCC).

  9. Kathleen says:

    The only think I was trying to say is that the exemption does not exempt you from testing and that is what it sounded like you were saying.

    Twice in this post I say specifically that one is not exempt from the law, that one’s products must comply -the implication being that there must be some process whereby one can ascertain such. In the case of small batch producers, it is possible to gain an exemption (the entire purpose of this post) which would allow one to use their supplier’s certifications. Likewise, it wasn’t intended to be a redux of the legislation’s requirements (to whit, your mention of GCC) which we’ve belabored in the past -for the sake of brevity, links were provided.

    I just want to put a list of the items that registering exempts you from. This is right off the CPSIA’s site.

    Again, for the sake of brevity, I linked to the specific segment that you copied and pasted into your comment.

  10. hetty says:

    when having items tested, does each item in the batch need testing or just one item (since they would be all made with identical products i.e. same fabric, same thread etc.

  11. angela says:

    I have a get idea for children of all ages: with ADHD, blind, deaf, wheelchair bound, bed bound from new born to the kid at heart. This product is so great even your grandparents, single parent, college student and others can use it.
    I am a childcare provider with over 20 years experience. Parents on the go: parks, sports events, weddings, funerals, planes and long road trips. Your child will be content. No batteries, plugs or fuss. Light weight, fun colors, textures and no smell. Loveable, hugable, washable and water proof.

  12. Kathleen says:

    I don’t understand the purpose of your comment Angela. Other than that it has nothing to do with this topic, it appears to be intended as a marketing message only you don’t mention what your product is. This site is business to business focused; how to make and sell sewn products. If you want to drum up interest in your unnamed item, consumer centric sites are a much better bet. Here we promote information about machines, software, services, books etc but not any given designer’s finished product.

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