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In this page: Packaging and labelling regulation in France | Commercial and industrial norms in France


Packaging and labelling regulation in France

It must conform to European legislation on the prevention of health risks to consumers and the protection of the environment, especially with regards to waste treatment. Packaging in wood or vegetable matter must be subjected to a phytosanitary inspection.
For further information, consult:
- the summary of European legislation concerning this;
- the official quality marks for products sold on the French market as defined by the Directorate-General of Competition and Fraud;
- the rules of labeling for foodstuffs as defined by the Directorate-General of Competition and Fraud.
Languages Permitted on Packaging and Labeling
All products retailed on the French market must be accompanied by an information leaflet in French. Regarding textile labeling, drawings, symbols or pictograms can be accompanied by statements in foreign language not translated in French as long as they are either equivalent or complementary and are not likely to mislead the consumer.
Unit of Measurement
The use of the metric system is compulsory; the Anglo-Saxon units are not well-known.
Mark of Origin "Made In"
It is compulsory and controlled by Customs.
See the rules concerning mark of origin as defined by the Directorate-General of Competition and Fraud.
Labeling Requirements
Age of consumption for alcohol, colorings, standards, etc. In addition to EU's mandatory and voluntary schemes, national voluntary labeling schemes, often appreciated by consumers, might apply. Regarding food products, labels should include the product definition; its shelf life; precautionary information or usage instructions; statement of contents, including all additives, preservatives and colour agents; the product’s country of origin and name of importer or vendor; and the manufacturer’s lot or batch number.
Specific Regulations
European legislation provides for specific labeling rules for certain products such as foodstuffs, household equipment, sportswear, textiles, cigarettes, etc.
Labeling of seeds from genetically modified varieties or products containing GMOs (Genetically modified organism) is compulsory; the agents of the plant protection services are authorized to make random checks on the conformity of batches of seeds and imported plants, the agents from the Competition and Fraud squad do the same for products suitable for human consumption.

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Commercial and industrial norms in France

National Standards Organisations
AFNOR, the French standardisation association
UTE, Technical Union of Electricity
ETSI, European Telecommunications Standards Institute
Integration in the International Standards Network
At the European level:
- CEN, European Committee for Standardisation
- CENELEC, European Committee for Electrotechnical Standardisation

At the international level:
- International Standards Organisation (ISO)
- International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC)
Obligation to Use Standards
Products are subject to the European Union's legislation (General product safety Directive, technical legislation) as well as to the national French legislation.
Conformity to standards is compulsory for products such as machines, tools, electrical appliances, sports equipment, toys etc. This list continues to grow. Goods which have complex technology or are potentially dangerous must submit to rigorous testing and approval procedures before they can be marketed in France.
Classification of Standards
NF is the national certification mark.
CE is the European certification mark. It is compulsory for a country to be able to sell on the market.
Assessment of the System of Standardization
French people are receptive to standards being observed; the NF mark or the ISO 9000 certification are well known to consumers and firms and they are appreciated for their guarantee of the quality and safety of products and services.
Online Consultation of Standards
The on-line catalog of European standards
The ISO catalog
The most important standardisation programmes (Website in French)
Certification Organisations
See the list of independent organisations which issue the NF mark with AFNOR accreditation.

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Latest Update: June 2024