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CIBE Frontline: China Officials Clarify Customs Supervision Items on Imported Cosmetics and Interpret Guangdong Cosmetics Safety Regulation

  •   24 Sep 2019
  •    Hedy He
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    From Sep 5 to 6, 2019, One Asia Cosmetics & Beauty Forum and China International Beauty Expo were hosted in Guangzhou. During the Forum and Beauty Expo, officials from Guangzhou Customs and Guangdong MPA respectively clarified customs supervision and administration on imported cosmetics and interpreted Guangdong Cosmetics Safety Regulation
    [1] which was effective on Jul. 1, 2019.

    Customs Supervision and Administration on Imported Cosmetics

    Wang lixia, an official from Guangzhou Customs clarified customs supervision and administration on imported cosmetics. At first, she shared the current conditions of imported cosmetics in China.

    1. Current Conditions of Imported Cosmetics in China

    • Cosmetics imports have grown substantially. Imported cosmetics trade volume increased from US$940 million in 2008 to US$11.3 billion in 2018.
    • Major importing countries and regions include the EU, South Korea, Japan, the United States and Taiwan.
    • Major imported products are skin care products, perfumes, lip cosmetics, nail cosmetics, eye cosmetics and makeups.

    2. Division of Functions between NMPA and GAC

    Also, Wang clarified the division of functions between National Medical Products Administration and the General Administration of Customs on the supervision of imported cosmetics.

    3. Customs Supervision and Administration on Imported Cosmetics

    1) Pre-entry Admission

    • Pre-entry requirement: Registration/Filing certificate
    • Consignee filing of imported cosmetics: China Customs implements filing management for consignees of imported cosmetics. Please refer to our Expert Article [2] for the qualification, dossiers necessary and procedures for consignee filing.

    2) Entry Inspection

    • Port inspection and quarantine
    • Quality and safety monitoring: GAC formulate an annual monitoring plan for cosmetics, and implements systematic monitoring to detect risks and implement rectification measures in time
    • Label review: Imported cosmetics need to add the Chinese labeling and comply with Chinese laws, administrative regulations and standards
    • Risk pre-warning: China Customs issue warning on unqualified cosmetics, publish them online and promptly notify the original countries and regions.

    Entry Inspection Items:

    On-site inspection and quarantineConsistency between products and certificates, product packaging, product sensory properties, label layout format, means of transportation, container and the hygiene conditions of storage areas
    Label reviewInspection to ascertain if label complies with mandatory requirements of Chinese laws, administrative regulations and national technical specifications, including the layout, format, authenticity and accuracy of the content related to product quality
    Laboratory testingSampling inspection shall be conducted in accordance with the supervision and sampling plan of GAC. The testing items include microorganism, contaminant, prohibited and restricted ingredients, etc.

    3) Post-entry Supervision

    • Retrospective management: Consignees of imported cosmetics shall establish import and sales records to ensure traceability of imported cosmetics
    • Importers' reputation record

    Please refer to our Expert Article [3] for detailed procedures of importing cosmetics and dossiers necessary for customs clearance in China.

    Interpretation of Guangdong Cosmetics Safety Regulation

    1. Defects in Regulations concerning the Hygiene Supervision over Cosmetics

    According to CNPHARM, Regulations concerning the Hygiene Supervision over Cosmetics [4]which is already almost 30 years old is outdated and hasn’t been refined over time to encompass developments made in the cosmetics sector. This mismatch causes a lot of issues [5], for example:

    • Overemphasis on government responsibilities, ignoring social governance, risk management and enterprise responsibility
    • Overemphasis on pre-market approval, lack of adequate post-market supervision
    • Overemphasis on requirements for production, inspection and warehousing sites and equipment, but lacks requirements for personnel, quality control, etc.
    • Lack of scope. This outdated regulation only prohibits illegal and unqualified products and illegal claims, but does not clarify the responsibilities of cosmetic enterprise
    • Lacks regulations detailing how regulatory authorities enforce supervision during the operation process

    2. Interpretation of Guangdong Cosmetics Safety Regulation

    Guangdong Province is a major province in China's cosmetics industry, including 2,624 certified cosmetics manufacturers, accounting for 53% of all manufacturers in China.

    On Jul. 1st, 2019, China implemented the 1st local cosmetic safety regulation, Guangdong Cosmetics Safety Regulation [6], which fixes many of the major defects in Regulations concerning the Hygiene Supervision over Cosmetics. During Guangdong Beauty Expo, Cheng Chaojun, official from Cosmetics Supervision Department of Guangdong MPA, interpreted the highlights in this local regulation.

    ​​1) Comprehensive risk management and full traceability of the production process

    • Guangdong Province introduced the International Standard for Risk Management (ISO 31000) and established a management mechanism for risk monitoring, assessment, prevention, control, communication and collaboration.
    • Grading or point management system was implemented on cosmetic enterprises. Frequency of supervision and inspection for cosmetics enterprises with bad credit record or high risk of cosmetic safety accidents will be increased.
    • Full traceability management system was implemented in ingredient purchase, formulation, production, inspection, sampling and sales procedures.

    2) Full traceability of operation process and business information collection

    • Cosmetic operators shall ask for: certificate and invoice, business license of cosmetics suppliers, quality inspection certificate of cosmetics, product labels, testing report, establish purchase ledger and keep the records for at least 3 years.
    • A business information collection system was established to encourage cosmetic operators, business site providers, e-commerce trading platforms, and ingredient suppliers to file business information.
    Cosmetics Operation Management in Guangdong (Large)

    3) Entrusted production management

    Guangdong Cosmetics Safety Regulation standardizes the entrusted production, which clarifies the requirements on entrusted and entrusting party’s qualification, product quality and safety responsibilities, etc.

    4) A supplementary testing system was established to crack down on illegal additions of ingredients

    Safety and Technical Standards for Cosmetics 2015 [7]included 164 kinds of testing methods for prohibited ingredients, 13 kinds of testing methods for restricted ingredients. But there are 1388 prohibited ingredients and 47 restricted ingredients in Chinese cosmetics regulations.


    Prohibited ingredients

    Restricted ingredients




    Testing Methods



    If regulatory authorities detect prohibited ingredient in unqualified cosmetics, there is no legal basis for statutory penalties because of the lack of state-approved testing method for this prohibited ingredient.

    Article 45 of Guangdong Cosmetics Safety Regulation stipulates that if cosmetic testing institution fails to complete cosmetic testing due to the limited state-approved testing methods and items, it can use the supplementary testing methods and items announced by State and Provincial MPA. This means Guangdong has made up for the defects inherent in the original legal system and will impose more stringent regulatory measures to crack down the illegal additions of cosmetic ingredients.

    5) Network cosmetics operation management

    Network cosmetics operators shall complete commercial registration and disclose the products’ registration/filing information at a prominent position on the product sales page.

    The e-commerce platforms shall:

    • Carry out real-name registration and business qualification verification for the cosmetics operators entering the platform and sign an agreement to clarify their respective cosmetics safety management responsibilities.

    • Promptly stop illegal platform operations and report to the local MPA. If it is a serious illegal act, the platform should immediately stop providing service for the operator

    • Provide true information and contact information of cosmetic operators if there is a consumer dispute

    • Bear joint responsibilities with the network cosmetics operators if the platform did not take measures against those non-compliant cosmetics sold in the platform.

    According to CNPHARM, Guangdong MPA is still compiling the official interpretation of Guangdong Cosmetics Safety Regulation. It will explain each of the provisions in the regulation in a pending publication[8].

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