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Labelling of textile products

This summary has been archived and will not be updated, because the summarised document is no longer in force or does not reflect the current situation.

Labelling of textile products

The labelling of textile products harmonises the names of textile fibres and other terms used in labelling or other documents accompanying these products, in order to ensure adequate information for consumers and to promote the development of the internal market.


European Parliament and Council Directive 96/74/EC of 16 December 1996 on textile names [See amending acts].



The Directive applies to:

  • textile products exclusively composed of textile fibres,
  • products containing at least 80% by weight of textile fibres,
  • furniture, umbrella and sunshade coverings, floor coverings, mattresses and camping goods, and warm linings of footwear, gloves, mittens and mitts, provided that the textile parts of such products constitute at least 80% by weight of the complete article,
  • textiles incorporated into other products.

The Directive does not apply to textile products which:

  • are intended for export to third countries,
  • enter Member States, under customs control, for transit purposes,
  • are imported from third countries for inward processing,
  • are contracted out to persons working in their own homes or to independent firms that make up work from materials supplied.

Composition of textile products and authorised names

Annex I of the Directive provides descriptions corresponding to textile names. These names may not be used for any other fibres. The terms "virgin wool" or "fleece wool" may be used only for products composed exclusively of a fibre which:

  • has not previously been part of a finished product,
  • has not been subjected to any spinning and/or felting processes other than those required in the manufacture of that product,
  • has not been damaged by treatment or use.

These names may be used to describe fibre mixtures subject to certain conditions. The full percentage composition must be given in such cases.

For wool products, the tolerance justified on technical grounds is limited to 0.3 % of fibrous impurities.

A product composed of two or more fibres, one of which accounts for at least 85% of the total weight, must be designated:

  • by the name of the latter fibre followed by its percentage by weight, or
  • by the name of the latter fibre followed by the words "85% minimum", or
  • by the full percentage composition of the product.

A product composed of two or more fibres, none of which accounts for as much as 85% of the total weight, must be designated by the name and percentage by weight of one of the two main fibres, followed by the names of the other fibres. Fibres which account for less than 10% of the product’s composition may be described:

  • as "other fibres", or
  • by their name, provided that the full percentage composition of the product is given.

Products comprising a pure cotton warp or a pure flax weft, in which the percentage of flax is not less than 40%, may be given the name "cotton linen union" followed by the specification "pure cotton warp - pure flax weft".

A quantity of extraneous fibres is tolerated, up to 5% of the total weight in the case of products which have undergone a carding process, and 2% in other cases. However, extraneous fibres must not be added as a matter of routine.

A manufacturing tolerance of 3% in relation to the total weight of fibres is permitted between the percentage stated on the label and the percentage obtained from analysis.

Higher tolerances may be authorised only in exceptional cases, where required by manufacturing processes.

Visible, isolable fibres which are purely decorative and do not exceed 7% of the weight of the finished product and fibres which are incorporated in order to obtain an anti-static effect and which do not exceed 2% of the weight of the finished product need not be mentioned in the fibre composition.

The Directive lists the items which should not be taken into account in calculating fibre percentages for textile products.


Textile products must be labelled or marked whenever they are put onto the market for production or commercial purposes. Where these products are not being offered for sale to the end consumer, or when they are being delivered in performance of an order placed by the State, labelling or marking may be replaced by accompanying commercial documents. The names, descriptions and details of textile fibre content must be indicated in these commercial documents. They must also be indicated on products offered for sale to consumers.

With the exception of trade marks or the name of the undertaking, information other than that required by this Directive must be quite separate.

Member States may require that their national language be used for the labelling and marking required by the Directive.

A textile product composed of two or more components which have different compositions must bear a label stating the fibre content of each component.

Where two or more textile products have the same composition and form a single unit, they need bear only one label.

The Directive contains specific requirements for the labelling of:

  • corsetry articles,
  • etch-printed textiles,
  • embroidered textiles,
  • yarns consisting of a core and cover made up of different fibres,
  • velvet and plush textiles,
  • floor coverings and carpets.

The Directive makes provision for derogations for the labelling of certain textile products.

Placing on the market

Only textile products which comply with this Directive may be marketed within the Community. Member States may not prohibit or impede the placing on the market of textile products which satisfy the provisions of the Directive for reasons connected with names or composition specifications.

This Directive was repealed by Directive 2008/121/EC.



Entry into force

Deadline for transposition in the Member States

Official Journal

Directive 96/74/EC



OJ L 32 of 3.2.1997

Amending act(s)

Entry into force

Deadline for transposition in the Member States

Official Journal

Directive 97/37/CE



OJ L 169 of 27.6.2007

Directive 2004/34/CE



OJ L 89 of 26.3.2004

Directive 2006/3/CE



OJ L 5 of 10.1.2006

Directive 2006/96/CE



OJ L 363 of 20.12.2006

Directive 2007/3/CE



OJ L 28 of 3.2.2007

Successive amendments and corrections made to Directive 96/74/EC have been incorporated into the original text. This consolidated version is for reference purposes only.


Directive 96/73/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 16 December 1996 on certain methods for the quantitative analysis of binary textile fibre mixtures [Official Journal L 32 of 3.2.1997]. This act consolidates Council Directive 72/276/EEC and the Directives amending it. It makes provision for 15 methods for the quantitative analysis of certain binary textile fibre mixtures. In the case of binary mixtures for which there is no uniform method of analysis at Community level, the laboratory responsible for testing may use any valid method at its disposal. The Directive also sets up a committee on textile names and labelling which is responsible for adapting the methods of quantitative analysis referred to above to technical progress, through the regulatory procedure. This Directive was amended by Directives 2006/2/EC and 2007/4/EC.

For further information on the textiles and clothing industry, please consult the and websites.

See also

Last updated: 17.09.2009