In the guide

This guidance is for England, Scotland and Wales

Footwear must be labelled with an indication of the main material from which the upper, lining and sock, and outer sole are made in the form of either pictograms (symbols) or words.

The label should be attached to at least one item of footwear per pair and it may also appear on the packaging.

The law

The Footwear (Indication of Composition) Labelling Regulations 1995 apply to footwear of all descriptions, ranging from simple sandals to thigh-length boots, with the exception of:

  • second-hand or worn footwear
  • protective footwear
  • footwear containing asbestos
  • footwear intended for use in play (for example, fancy dress) by children under 14
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Who is responsible for the labelling?

It is the responsibility of the manufacturer or importer to ensure that footwear is correctly labelled and to supply accurate labels that are not misleading.

It is the responsibility of the retailer to ensure that the footwear they sell is labelled correctly, in accordance with the Regulations. It is therefore recommended that retailers have a system in place for checking footwear labelling before it goes on sale, and that these checks are recorded. Retailers can get information about the composition of footwear they sell from manufacturers or importers.

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Labelling requirements

The label must state, in English or in a clear pictogram form, what material makes up 80% of:

  • the surface area of the upper
  • the surface area of the lining and sock (this means the lining of the upper and the insole, which constitutes the inside of the footwear article)
  • the outer sole

Where multiple materials are used, the two main materials in the composition of the footwear must be stated.

The label must be attached to at least one item of footwear in each pair and may be affixed by way of printing, sticking, embossing or use of an attached label; it must be visible, securely attached and accessible. The label may also appear on the packaging but it must be on the footwear itself.

If pictograms are used in a retail shop a notice must be displayed that explains to consumers what the symbols mean. The notice must be large enough so that the information can be seen and understood by consumers.

If pictogram labels are used where footwear is sold from a place consumers do not have access to (for example, mail order or internet sales) the consumer must be clearly informed of the meaning of the pictograms used.

Pictograms for the parts of the footwear



Lining and sock:

Lining and sock

Outer sole:

Outer sole

Pictograms for the materials used in footwear composition



Coated leather:

Coated leather



Other materials:

Other materials

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Other legislation

If any misleading claims regarding footwear are made there may also be breaches of the requirements of the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008. Please see 'Consumer protection from unfair trading' for more information on these Regulations.

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Trading Standards

For more information on the work of Trading Standards services - and the possible consequences of not abiding by the law - please see 'Trading Standards: powers, enforcement and penalties'.

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In this update

No major changes.

Last reviewed / updated: April 2023

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Key legislation

Footwear (Indication of Composition) Labelling Regulations 1995

Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008

Please note

This information is intended for guidance; only the courts can give an authoritative interpretation of the law.

The guide's 'Key legislation' links often only shows the original version of the legislation, although some amending legislation is linked to separately where it is directly related to the content of a guide. Information on changes to legislation can be found by following the above links and clicking on the 'More Resources' tab.

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Consumer enquiries from England, Scotland and Wales are handled by the Citizens Advice Consumer Service who can be contacted by telephone on 03454 04 05 06. Consumer enquiries in Northern Ireland are handled by ConsumerLine who can be contacted by telephone on 0300 1236262. Call charges may vary.

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Business enquiries are dealt with by your local council. Use the Chartered Trading Standards Institute's postcode finder to locate your local trading standards team.

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