What do you need to place furniture on the Chinese market?
Failure to comply with the appropriate regulations when manufacturing or importing furniture into China can result in fines, destruction of stock, or revocation of a license. Stakeholders need to understand China’s legal and regulatory system to successfully access its furniture market.
China does not have one single standard, law, or government body that covers the regulatory requirements for the manufacture and import of furniture. To make matters even more confusing, several types of standard exist and, because of a complex system of local and national governance, compliance in one region does not guarantee compliance in another.
The economic and reputational consequences of failing to comply with the relevant laws and standards can be serious. Penalties can include: destruction of stock, product recalls, fines, revocation of licenses, bans and brand-damaging media exposure.
To understand the legal requirements of China’s furniture market, it is necessary to first understand the laws and government authorities that hold jurisdiction.
Laws and Regulations
Several laws cover the sale, manufacture and import of furniture in China. These include:
- Law of the People’s Republic of China on the Protection of Consumers’ Rights and Interests
- Product Quality Law of the People’s Republic of China
- Standardization Law of the People’s Republic of China
- Law of the People’s Republic of China on Import and Export Commodity Inspection
China’s chief enforcement mechanism is random inspections. Samples can be taken from the open market or from warehouses, and are administered at both a state and local level by government authorities.
Random inspections check whether a product conforms to the correct standard, has the correct usability, and whether it matches the label description. Under Article 27 of the Product Quality Law, the label must contain certain details, including: the product name and specifications; the manufacturers name and address in Chinese; information on the certificate of quality inspection; the specification and requirements for use; and, if the product is fragile, a warning that the product may be easily damaged.
For furniture that is being imported into China, the Law on Import and Export Commodity Inspection requires products to be tested against the relevant mandatory standard. If a mandatory standard has not yet been formulated, inspection is undertaken against the appropriate foreign standard, as designated by the State. Prior compliance to an international standard will not exempt a product from the inspection process.
Supervision and Administration
Three governmental organizations have authority over furniture products being offered onto the Chinese market. (Table 1)
Table 1. Government departments overseeing furniture standards
|China Enter-Exit Inspection and Quarantine Bureau (CIQ)¹||Products offered for import/export|
|Bureau of Quality and Technical Supervision (QTS)¹||Products in market circulation and production|
|Administration for Industry and Commerce (AIC)²||Products in market circulation|
1 Part of the General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine of the People’s Republic of China (AQSIQ)
2 Part of the State Administration for Industry and Commerce of the People’s Republic of China (SAIC)
Each of these authorities has the power to demand a product recall, ban a product, revoke licenses, levy fines, destroy products and create media exposure that will damage a brand’s reputation. These penalties can be administered on both a local and/or national scale, depending on the scope of the random inspection. In addition, the government has set up a website to record failed products.
Suppliers need to be aware that, because random inspections can also be carried out under the authority of the local QTS, it is possible for a product to fail in one jurisdiction and yet remain compliant in another.
In addition to governmental authorities, the Consumers’ Association (CCA) also monitors available products and can publicize compliance failures against the stated standard.
China’s Furniture Standards
Chinese product standards can be national, industrial, local or enterprise, each denoted by its own code. (see Table 2)
Table 2. Chinese Standard Types
|National Standard||GB||National technical requirements formulated in each sector by national standardization committee (SAC)|
|Industry Standard||FZ – Textile Industry
QB – Light Industry (or others)
e.g. FZ – formulated by China Textile Association
These provide uniform technical requirements applicable to the related industry and are valid if no national standard exists
Enacted by local government and applicable only locally in a specific industry
These provide uniform technical requirements applicable to the related province or municipality.
They are valid if no national or industrial standard exists
Developed by the company. It must be registered in the database of the related government department.
Applicable if no national, industrial or local standard exists, or if the business creates its own standard that has higher requirements than the national, industrial or local standard
The first three types of standard can also be broken down into mandatory and voluntary, the latter indicated by the suffix /T. For example, GB 28007-2011 Children’s Furniture is a mandatory national standard, whereas GB/T 3325-2008 Metal Furniture is a voluntary national standard. An example of a voluntary industrial standard is QB/T 2280-2016 Office Chair.
The standard will include requirements relating to, amongst others:
- Labeling – must be written clearly in Chinese, meeting the requirements of the Product Quality Law
- Instruction manuals
- Hazardous substances
- Physical – for example, surface coatings, metal parts, soft materials, moisture content and structural safety
If no mandatory standard exists, or the company wishes to produce that exceeds the mandatory standard, then it can create an enterprise standard specific to their product and business. An enterprise standard must be used if no relevant standard exists. Once an enterprise standard has been drafted, it must be registered with the appropriate authority.
Choosing the right standard is important. Companies must choose the most applicable standard for their product and, once the standard is chosen, they must comply with it.
SGS Solutions: Selling Compliant Furniture in China
With ten hardline laboratories, six with dedicated furniture capabilities, across China, SGS offers a one-stop solution for businesses marketing furniture in China.
We offer a full range of consulting services, including:
- Labeling services – helping write, translate and assess standard’s labels
- Training services – offering training for technical requirements, testing methods and domestic regulations
- Standards services – helping translate, interpret and compare standards
- Enterprise services – helping draft and register enterprise standards
In addition, we offer a full range of testing services against all the main national, industrial and local standards to help businesses achieve compliance. If a piece of furniture is for infant use or has electronic parts, we can also assist with the China Compulsory Certificate (CCC) – the safety mark.
SGS offers a one-stop service to help companies achieve compliance, avoiding costly recalls and protecting their brand.
For more information about SGS services for the furniture industry, please contact your local SGS sales representative or contact our global team.
For more information, please contact:
Technical Support, Hardlines
SGS-CSTC Standards Technical Services Co., Ltd. (Guangzhou)
t: +86 (20) 3213 6240
Global Furniture Expert
t: +33 6 20 09 86 14