Product safety checklist for distributors

Published by:
Netherlands Food and Consumer Product Safety Authority, NVWA
Netherlands Food and Consumer Product Safety Authority, NVWA

You are allowed to offer safe (non-food) consumer goods on the European market. As distributor, you are partially responsible for this. Do you have doubts about a product's safety? Then you must report it to a supervising authority. Read how to comply with the rules.

1. Check whether the product has a technical file

Each product you sell within the European Union (EU) must have a technical file (dossier). In it, the manufacturerdescribes how the product meets the product safety requirements. Check with the manufacturer or the importer of the product whether the technical file exists. Do so before you market the product. Preferably, request a copy of the file, or the right to access the file digitally.

Read more about the requirements for the technical file.

2. Check whether the product complies with the EU regulations (conformity)

You are not allowed to offer products for sale if you do not know whether they are safe or not. This means you have to know about product requirements, so that you can check whether your product meets the product safety requirements. This is called conformity.

You as distributor must be able to prove that you have done your utmost to check a product's conformity. Are you planning to start selling a new product?

Then always check these requirements:

CE marking means that the product complies with the EU requirements for safety, health, and environment. Not all products have to have CE marking. Check whether your product has to have CE marking on the EU website.

It is your responsibility to check whether the products you sell are safe. And whether they meet the legal requirements.

Hire help from a consultant

You need specialist knowledge for this step. You can hire a (commercial) consultant to help you meet all the requirements. For example, a consultant or consultant's agency can check whether the manufacturer's technical file is correct and complete.

The product must contain a label with information about the product and its origin. That information must be correct, so that the consumer may safely use the product. The information must be written in the language of the country where the product is sold, and it must be easy to understand.

The information is also important for inspectorates and supervising authorities. In case there are problems with a product, the supervising authority can use the label to find out where it comes from. And take measures to take an unsafe product off the market, for example. Or even recall it from the end-user.

The label must contain at least this information:

  • the name, trade name, or trademark of the manufacturer and of the importer, if the product was imported
  • the type number, batch number or serial number (or another means of identification)
  • the manufacturer's contact details, and those of the importer, if the product was imported
  • warnings or (required) markings needed for safe use of the product.

Is it impossible to fit the information on the product or the label? For example, because the product is too small? Then you may put the information on the packaging. Or insert a leaflet in the package.

Does the technical file mention specific product requirements? Then you must check whether the product meets these. For example, a user manual in easy to understand language is required for many products.

Have you checked the conformity requirements in this step? Then you may start to sell the product. Go to step 4. Do you doubt the product's safety? Go to step 3.

3. If the product does not meet the requirements, take immediate action (non-conformity)

Does the product not comply with the product safety requirements? In legal terms, this is known as non-conformity. You may not sell the product. When you find or suspect non-conformity, you must:

  • report the product via the EU Safety Gate platform to inform the supervising authorities about the risks
  • contact the manufacturer or the importer and ask them to adjust the product so that it does comply with the requirements (conforms)
  • inform the supervising authorities about the manufacturer or the importer of the product
  • request the technical file from the manufacturer or the importer, if the supervising authorities ask you for it

4. Ensure safe transport and good storage

You must see to it that the product is transported and stored in the correct manner. Is this not done correctly? It may affect the safety of the product and its environment when used for the first time.

EU countries may have their own rules for the distribution of specific products. For example, to protect the public health. Do you want to find out if specific rules apply to your product? Get free information from the Product Contact Point (PCP).

Questions relating to this article?

Please contact the Netherlands Food and Consumer Product Safety Authority, NVWA