In the guide

Product safety in the UK is governed by a wide regulatory framework consisting of both national and European-derived legislation

If your business carries out any of these activities, you are required to comply with the law and protect consumers by ensuring that your goods are safe.

If you cut corners on safety, you could face criminal prosecution, have to withdraw or recall products from the market and face legal action from consumers to recover damages for the harm caused.

What products?

Any products that are intended for consumers or reasonably likely to be used by them (even if not intended for them, such as heavy duty tools for DIY) are required to be safe. This applies whether the goods are new, reconditioned or second-hand.

This also includes items provided to consumers for use by them when being provided with a service, such as gym equipment or a hairdryer in a hotel room.

Back to top

Supplying products

Products must be safe and comply when they are available for supply, or 'placed on the market'. This occurs when a manufacturer first makes the product available for further supply or when an importer takes ownership of the goods once they have been cleared by customs.

Products are 'supplied' when they are sold (including where they are exchanged for no money), hired (including hire purchase and letting) or lent to consumers, and includes where they are supplied as part of a contract for work. Even giving products as a prize or gift is supply.

Back to top

What is a safe product?

A safe product is one that provides either no risk or a minimum acceptable level of risk, taking into account the normal or reasonably foreseeable use of the product and the need to maintain a high level of protection for consumers.

What is safe is therefore determined by considering all characteristics of the product, how it is presented, the effect that it might have on other products it is likely to be used with, and the consumers at risk when using it (especially children and the elderly).

For many product sectors there is specific safety legislation (covering, for example, toys, electrical goods and machinery), which sets out more detailed safety requirements applicable to those products. This legislation generally applies to both consumer and commercial products, but sets out the same safety criteria.

Although the safety regulations set out safety in general terms, the interpretation and practical guidance to compliance can be found in British or European standards (BS ENs). A producer can generally choose to use relevant standards to demonstrate that the goods are safe.

Back to top

Responsibility for compliance

As stated above if you are involved in the supply of goods to consumers you are responsible for the safety of the goods you supply. The level of responsibility depends on whether you are involved in the actual production of the goods - where you are affecting the safety properties of the products ('producers') - or merely involved with the supply ('distributors').

Back to top


If you are a producer (importer, manufacturer, own-brander, re-conditioner, etc) then you are responsible for ensuring your products are safe and carry adequate instructions and warnings for consumers to use them safely.

You will also need to undertake some form of 'conformity assessment procedure', which is the means set out in the legislation by which the product is shown to be safe (such as by manufacturing to standards or being assessed by a third party). The records of this (the technical documentation) need to be maintained for at least ten years.

Once in the supply chain, a producer is also required to have measures in place to be able to identify any risks or issues arising from a product's use so that urgent action can be taken quickly and effectively to trace it and take the necessary corrective action (including issuing a recall).

If you are a distributor (wholesaler, retailer, etc) you must not supply goods that you believe are dangerous. You are required to monitor the safety of the products you supply, passing on information to the producer and cooperating with them if they advise you of a problem. The legislation also requires you to retain records of supply, which must be kept for six years.

It is good practice as a distributor to request assurances from your supplier regarding compliance with the relevant regulations and standards; if possible request up-to-date relevant test certificates for the product.

Whatever role you fulfil, remember that ultimately you have a duty to ensure you only supply safe products. This duty exists whether that product is intended for consumers or for commercial use.

It is a criminal offence to place on the market or supply unsafe products. You could face criminal proceedings, with the consequent damage to your business.

Back to top

Product liability

In addition to the criminal law, product liability legislation gives consumers the right to sue for damages for injury caused by defective products. Anyone injured by a defective product has rights, whether or not the product was sold to them.

For more detailed information please see the In-depth Guides below. Once you've finished, make sure you look at the full range of Quick Guides to see whether there are any other areas of law that affect your business.

Before you start
Make sure you choose your location using the drop-down list at the top of the page. The In-depth Guides provide country-specific information as some laws are different in England, Scotland and Wales, and some are enforced differently.

Back to top

In-depth guidance

This is a general guide and you may well need to know more; take a look below where we've listed our In-depth Guides on specific topics related to product safety


General product safety: distributors

The requirements under the General Product Safety Regulations 2005 for retailers and wholesalers

General product safety: producers

The requirements under the General Product Safety Regulations 2005 for manufacturers, importers and own-branders

Goods in rented accommodation

All goods supplied as part of a let of furnished residential accommodation must be safe, including gas installations and appliances

Product safety: due diligence

If your business manufactures, imports, distributes, sells or supplies goods you have to comply with the law; this may include checking to ensure that UKCA / CE-marked products are fit to bear the mark

Unsafe goods: liability

A guide to the consequences of supplying unsafe goods, and who is liable for the damage caused by the defect

Refill shops

Selling loose goods in containers that are brought in by consumers or provided by the business

UKCA / CE marking

The UKCA mark is Great Britain's replacement for the CE mark, although either mark can be used for most products

Product types

New and second-hand prams and pushchairs

All prams and pushchairs sold, whether new or used, are required to be safe

New nightwear

The safety, labelling and treatment of nightwear for children and adults

New upholstered furniture: fire safety

Upholstered furniture must pass safety tests and be labelled correctly regarding its flammability

Cosmetic products

If you manufacture, own-brand or import cosmetic products, they must be safe; there are specific requirements for composition and labelling

Electrical equipment

Essential information for suppliers of electrical equipment, including UKCA / CE marking

Food imitations

The law on the supply of articles that resemble food products

Jewellery safety: metal content

The requirements on nickel, lead and cadmium in jewellery, and why this is controlled

Mini motos, off-road vehicles, etc

Specific safety requirements apply to mini motos, quad bikes, powered mini scooters and off-road vehicles, including the use of the UKCA / CE mark

Novelty, decorative and ornamental giftware

The safety requirements of different types of giftware, including candles, collectors' items and models


The labelling and safety requirements for new toys as they apply to retailers, and how the law applies to toys sold second-hand

Electrically assisted pedal cycles

Specific safety requirements and advice on the legal requirements relating to electrically assisted pedal cycles when used on public roads, including the use of the UKCA / CE mark

Construction products

Essential information for suppliers of construction products, including UKCA marking

Leather goods

There are strict controls on the presence of  certain chemicals in leather goods that are sold to consumers

Recreational craft (boats etc)

Essential information for suppliers of recreational craft, including UKCA / CE marking

Candles, diffusers, oil heaters, etc

There are specific safety requirements for candles, diffusers, room sprays, fragrant aromatherapy oil heaters and lamps


There are safety requirements for all types of battery, both rechargeable and non rechargeable, intended for use in consumer applications


Specific safety requirements and advice on the legal requirements relating to electrically powered transporters (e-scooters), including the use of the UKCA mark

Storage and supply of fireworks

There are detailed requirements regarding the storage and retail supply of fireworks, including licensing and the times of the year when they can be supplied


Part-worn tyres

The law requires part-worn tyres to be labelled and to meet minimum safety standards

Second-hand electrical goods

If second-hand electrical goods are to be sold they must meet the legal safety requirements

Second-hand gas cooking appliances

Second-hand gas cooking appliances must be safe when supplied and a competent person must confirm this

Second-hand upholstered furniture: fire safety

Used furniture must pass safety tests regarding flammability

Used car sales

Used vehicles on sale must be given a truthful description, and must also be safe and roadworthy

What type of feedback would you like to leave
1a-User type
2a-User type
3a-User type
4a-User type

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.

How many years have you been trading?
How many employees are there in your business?

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.

Are you satisfied? Did this site answer your question?