Garment labels give consumers important purchasing information. If you manufacture, import or sell fur garments — whether coats, capes, stoles or parkas — you must comply with the labeling requirements under the Fur Products Labeling Act (FPLA). This guidance explains the FPLA’s current requirements.
Garment labels give consumers important purchasing information. If you manufacture, import or sell fur garments — whether coats, capes, stoles or parkas — you must comply with the labeling requirements under the Fur Products Labeling Act (FPLA). This guidance explains the FPLA’s current requirements; read Members of the fur industry: Today’s the day to learn about the history of changes to the FPLA.
Fur Labeling Requirements
Garments made entirely or partly with fur must have a label disclosing:
►The animal name, according to the Fur Products Name Guide. The Guide lists the animals whose fur could be used in a garment. In 2014, the FTC updated and corrected some of the animal names. However, simply because a name is on the list does not make it legal to sell that fur in the U.S. For example, some animals on the list may be endangered species, and so the sale of their fur is prohibited. In addition, the Dog and Cat Protection Act of 2000 prohibits importing, exporting, selling, trading, advertising, transporting, or distributing any products made with dog or cat fur. California criminal law prohibits selling dog and cat fur in that state.
It is illegal to label a fur with:
- the name of any animal other than the animal that produced the fur, and
- coined or fictitious animal names
You may — but don’t have to — add the name of the fur’s country of origin before the animal name; for example, “Russian Mink.”
►The name or Registered Identification Number (RN) of the manufacturer, importer or other seller, marketer or distributor of the fur.
►The country of origin for imported fur products, including the country of origin for imported furs made into fur products in the U.S.
You must state the fur’s origin with the words “Fur Origin;” for example, “Fur Origin: Russia.” This is required even if you add the name of the fur’s country of origin before the animal name.
The country of origin of the fur garment may be different from the country of origin of the fur itself. You must mark imported garments in accordance with the marking statute (19 U.S.C. §1304) enforced by U.S. Customs and Border Protection.
You may — but aren’t required to — label domestic fur products to show origin. You can label domestic furs to show the state or part of the country they came from, but you can’t use a name that suggests a false geographic origin, or label or advertise domestic furs in a way that implies they are imported. If the name of the animal, as listed in the Fur Products Name Guide, includes a geographic designation, but the animal was raised or taken in the U.S., state the origin to prevent possible deception. For example, "Mexican Raccoon; Fur Origin: U.S."
►If the fur is pointed, dyed, bleached, or artificially colored. If these treatments weren’t used, you should label the fur "natural.”
►If the fur product is composed of more than 10 percent of surface area of pieces, such as paws, tails, bellies, gills, ears, throats, heads, scraps or waste fur.
►If the fur is used or damaged.
►The textile or wool content of the product, its country of origin and its manufacturer or dealer identity. For example, the label on a wool coat with fur trim must disclose the wool content as required by the Wool Act and Rules. You must disclose the content of a fur coat lining if the lining provides added warmth or contains any wool. If the lining serves only a structural purpose, its fiber does not have to be disclosed.
Mechanics of Labeling
- Size. Labels must be conspicuous.
- Durability. The label must be durable enough to remain on the fur garment until it is delivered to the consumer.
- Lettering. The required information must be legible, conspicuous, and readily accessible to the consumer, with all parts of the information in letters of equal size and conspicuousness and on the same side of the label. There are no specific label and font size requirements.
You may use a single label to disclose the required information for items marketed or handled in pairs or ensembles if they contain the same fur and have the same country of origin, even if the items are not physically attached. You can include true and non-deceptive information on both sides of the label.
You are not required to:
- disclose that fur comes from “sides” or “flanks” or
- include an item number on labels (or invoices)
- place the required information in a specific order on the label
Invoices and Advertising
- The required labeling information also must appear on invoices and in advertising for fur products. Invoices can be issued and preserved electronically.
- Ads for a group of furs with various countries of origin may say “Fur products labeled to show country of origin of imported furs" instead of separately listing the countries. This does not apply to catalog, mail order or other advertising where the customer doesn’t have a chance to view the product and its label prior to delivery.
- General or institutional advertising that isn’t intended to promote the sale of any particular product(s) doesn’t need the required information. However, if the ad refers to a color, you must disclose whether it’s caused by artificial coloring.
The Truth in Fur Labeling Act of 2010 creates an exemption for furs sold by trappers and hunters in certain face-to-face transactions from home or at temporary locations like craft fairs, provided the sales are not the person’s primary source of income.
Manufacturers and dealers must keep records showing the animal’s name; the name or RN of the fur’s manufacturer, importer or seller; country of origin for imported products, and other required information for at least three years after they obtain or create them. Records can be issued and preserved electronically.
Enforcement of the Fur Act
Manufacturers, importers, distributors and retail sellers are responsible for complying with fur labeling requirements and may be subject to civil or criminal penalties for selling mislabeled products.
A violation of the FPLA or the Commission’s rules under the Act is considered an unfair method of competition and an unfair and deceptive act or practice under the FTC Act. The Commission may issue an administrative order prohibiting conduct that violates the Act. Violators of an administrative order are subject to monetary civil penalties of up to $40,654 per violation. Each instance of mislabeling is considered a separate violation. Criminal proceedings can be brought against willful violators of the FPLA.
Violations of the Dog and Cat Protection Act of 2000 can result in penalties of $3,000 to $10,000 per violation, forfeiture of the product, and disbarment from importing, exporting, transporting, distributing, manufacturing or selling any fur product in the U.S.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection can impose marking duties, liquidated damages, or seize improperly labeled imported items.
Guaranty of compliance
Sellers may protect themselves from liability under the Act and Rules for selling misbranded fur products by asking their U.S. supplier of fur products for a guaranty of compliance with the FPLA and Fur Rules and relying on the guaranty in good faith. You can satisfy the separate guaranty form’s signature requirement by including the guarantor’s printed name and address. You don’t need to show the shipment date.
The FTC will not bring enforcement actions against retailers that:
(1) can’t legally get a guaranty under the Fur Act;
(2) don’t embellish or misrepresent claims made by the manufacturer related to the Act or Rules; and
(3) don’t market the products as private label products.
But there’s a big caveat to that: If a retailer knew or should have known the marketing or sale of an item would violate the Fur Act or Rules, those protections won’t apply.
Continuing guaranties of compliance are filed with the FTC. See sections 301.47-.48 of the Fur Rules for more information about guaranties. Continuing guaranties filed with the FTC are public records and are effective until revoked. Guarantors should report any change in address or business status promptly by filing an updated guaranty.
The FTC revised the continuing guaranty form. You don’t need to refile continuing guaranties that were filed using the old form. However, if you need to update your contact or business status information, use FTC Form 31-A.
For More Information
For more information about the Textile, Wool and Fur Acts and Rules, see the FTC’s Clothing and Textile page with links to relevant documents.
Your Opportunity To Comment
The National Small Business Ombudsman and 10 Regional Fairness Boards collect comments from small businesses about federal compliance and enforcement activities. Each year, the Ombudsman evaluates the conduct of these activities and rates each agency’s responsiveness to small businesses. Small businesses can comment to the Ombudsman without fear of reprisal. To comment, call toll-free 1-888-REGFAIR (1-888-734-3247) or go to www.sba.gov/ombudsman.
[Note: Edited March 2017 to reflect Inflation-Adjusted Civil Penalty Maximums.]