Safe shopping on the web

Content:

Shopping for articles online can be quite convenient. But be aware of where the company is that you order the articles from. Articles sold in countries outside the EU may contain chemical substances that are banned in Sweden and in the EU.

Articles may contain prohibited substances

Articles sold in Sweden and within the EU are subject to high demands for safety. All companies within the EU must comply with applicable chemicals legislation, even if the company imports articles from countries outside the EU. If you order plastic products via the Internet directly from a supplier outside the EU, the article is not subject to the same legal requirements. In the worst case scenario, the article can contain substances that are banned in the EU because they can pose a risk to health or the environment.

If you would like to buy a product online, it is therefore good to try to find out if the article is manufactured or for sale in the EU. You can search for this information, for example, on the company’s website or ask the seller by email or phone.

Examples of prohibited substances that may be present in imported articles are

  • lead and cadmium in jewellery
  • some plasticisers, phthalates, in soft plastic toys
  • certain heavy metals and flame retardants in electronics.

If you would like to purchase pesticides over the Internet, you first need determine whether they are approved for use in Sweden.

Read more about the rules for pesticides

You do not have the same right to information

If you buy a product from a company within the EU, you always have the right to find out if the the article contains any of the especially hazardous substances that are listed on the EU Candidate List. If you buy articles from a company outside the EU, it can be difficult to get information about the content of the product and to determine whether the article contains any substances that can be hazardous.

Read more about your right to information about hazardous substances in the EU.

Requirements for labelling

Chemicals can be dangerous if used incorrectly. Within the EU, there is a law that all hazardous chemical products must be marked with a hazard symbol. These products include certain spray cans, detergents and lamp oils. The label must also state how the product can be used safely. This legislation applies within the EU, and there is therefore no guarantee that chemical products will be properly labelled if you buy them from a country outside the EU. If the product is labelled, it will likely not be labelled in Swedish, or maybe not even in English, and it can then be difficult to understand the information about risks and how to protect yourself.

Read more about labelling and hazard symbols

Read more about e-commerce on the Swedish Consumer Agency’s websiteexternal link

The European Commission’s website has more tips for shopping safely onlineexternal link

Last published 24 February 2021