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Enquiry: When Importing Cosmetic Products, What are the Statutory Licensing and Inspection Procedures?


Under the terms of the Detailed Rules for the Implementation of Regulations for Cosmetics Hygiene Supervision, administrative approval must be secured by overseas-based manufacturers of cosmetic products (or their appointed agents) prior to said products being imported into China for the first time. Furthermore, the applicant must appoint a China-resident and properly-registered individual to bear all subsequent legal responsibilities. It will then fall to this named individual to submit the import application. This can either be submitted by mail or in person within the Administrative Service Hall of the China Food and Drug Administration’s (CFDA) Beijing headquarters. There is no charge for the administrative licensing certificate and, once issued, it is valid for four years and may be renewed at the discretion of the CFDA.

In addition, any cosmetics product granted an import licence must also be registered with the General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine at the time of import (ire.eciq.cn) and may also be subject to inspection and quarantine procedures in line with the requirements of the Administrative Measures for the Inspection, Quarantine and Supervision of Imported and Exported Cosmetics.

Definitions and Sub-Categories

Overall, for official purposes, cosmetic items are defined as: “Daily use chemical products applied to any exterior part of the human body (including skin, hair, nails and lips), by way of smearing, spraying or other similar techniques, for hygiene purposes, to dispel unseemly odours, to protect the skin or to improve appearance”.

The CFDA also makes a distinction between “special-use” cosmetics and “non-special-use” cosmetics. The former are deemed to be: “Substances used to nourish, dye, perm or remove hair, as well as all products used in the course of breast massaging, odour removal, acne treatment or sun-screening.” In the case of “non-special-use cosmetics”, these are simply deemed to be those cosmetic products not falling within the definition of “special-use” cosmetics.

The relevant application procedures and the pre-conditions for securing an administrative licence to import cosmetics in either of two categories are detailed in two CFDA publications The Approval Service Guide for Importing Non-Special-Use Cosmetics and The Approval Service Guide for Importing Special-Use Cosmetics.

Content provided by Picture: HKTDC Research
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