Selling online

When you sell products to Australia, you must comply with Australian product safety laws – no matter where you are located in the world.

Product safety laws for online sellers

Australian product safety laws apply whether you sell through an online marketplace or not, and at every stage of the supply chain.

These laws mean that your business:

Complying with international or other trusted safety standards does not automatically mean your product complies with Australian mandatory safety standards or bans.

It is your responsibility to understand Australian product safety laws and make sure you sell safe, compliant products.

Guidance for product manufacturers and makers of handmade products

When you make or manufacture the products you sell online, Australia’s product liability laws apply to products with safety defects. This is in addition to your legal responsibilities as a supplier.

Product liability laws mean that Australian consumers can seek compensation from you if a product you made has caused loss or damage, including injuries, death and economic loss. Australian consumers who suffer loss or damage because of safety defects in the product you made can take you to court. They can also make a complaint to a consumer protection agency, who may then consider taking action against you.

Guidance for online selling platforms

The ACCC offers guidance for online selling platforms to help ensure the products supplied on their sites are safe.

If you operate an online selling platform, it will help to keep consumers’ trust in your brand and business if you host listings with safe products.

How to comply with Australian product safety laws

Follow these tips to help make sure you’re complying with Australian product safety laws and practices for selling safe consumer products online.

  • Check the list of mandatory safety standards to see if your product needs to comply.
  • Check whether the product is subject to a product safety ban.
  • If any products don’t comply with Australian product safety regulations, block them from being sold in Australia.
  • Source your products from manufacturers and suppliers who comply with Australian product safety regulations.
  • Share product safety information with consumers and make it available in appropriate languages. Include information like warnings, labels, age-grading on children’s products, product descriptions, good quality product images, and ingredients lists, especially for cosmetics and toiletries.
  • Be responsive to consumers and authorities – make sure you clearly list your contact details in case of safety problems.
  • Communicate product safety concerns with any affected customers.
  • Notify the ACCC if you need to conduct a recall and be sure to comply with mandatory reporting guidelines to avoid penalties.

  • Check with the Australian Department of Home Affairs to understand what goods are prohibited or restricted from being imported into Australia.
  • Read our factsheets for online suppliers. If you work with others, share them with your team.

  • Subscribe to updates from the Product Safety Australia website to keep you informed about any new information or changes regarding consumer product safety laws in Australia.

Factsheets

The ACCC has developed factsheets about Australian mandatory standards to help you find out if you can sell your products in Australia. Further fact sheets, including translations in other languages will be added to this page.

What happens if you don’t comply

Complying with Australian product safety requirements isn’t just good business sense – it’s the law.

If you fail to comply with product bans, mandatory standards or mandatory reporting requirements you may face enforcement action that attracts fines and pecuniary penalties under the Australian Consumer Law.

Unsafe products can cause serious injuries to consumers, and in the worst cases lead to death. Children can be particularly vulnerable, as they are usually unable to notice hazards. This is why most mandatory standards and bans aim to protect babies and children.

When safety issues arise, they can have a major impact on consumers and businesses.

Impact on your business

The impact on your business can be costly and result in:

  • exposure to legal liability
  • costs of repairs, replacements, or refunding consumers
  • costs associated with product redesign
  • a loss of business and reputation.

Impact on the community

Most businesses ensure their products comply with Australian safety laws. But those who supply unsafe or defective products can cause negative flow-on impacts for consumers and the broader community, including:

  • physical and psychological injury
  • financial burden, including income lost due to incapacity for work
  • costs of medical treatment.

(Productivity Commission, Review of Australia’s Consumer Policy Framework—Productivity Commission Inquiry Report, Volume 2, 30 April 2008, p. 172.)

These poor safety experiences can also have broader impacts on industry and the economy, resulting in loss of consumer confidence.

More information

Product safety laws
Product liability
Publications
Guidance for online selling platforms
Buying & selling safe products online: 2018 international campaign