FTC updates business address requirements

Posted in: Soap & Cosmetic Labeling

The FTC has issued the final rule for updating some aspects of their labeling regulations, including the requirements for the business name and address.

Note that these revised regulations will apply to non-cosmetic items, including to soap that is exempt from the definition of a cosmetic (see Soap, the Chameleon).

The updated regulation concering the business name and address is updated to read:

(c) The statement of the place of business shall include the street address, city, state, and zip code; however, the street address may be omitted if it is listed in a readily accessible, widely published, and publicly available resource, including but not limited to a printed directory, electronic database, or Web site.

The OLD regulation said that the street address could be omitted if it was listed in a phone or city directory.

The NEW regulation says the street address may be omitted if it is listed in a readily accessible, widely published, and publicly available resource.

While “readily accessible” and “widely published” are not defined, I would expect that any site that could be accessed by the public and found in a Google search would be acceptable.  Since it also mentions and “electronic database,” it’s likely that an online state business listing would also suffice.

Keep in mind, though, that the street address must be included in the website or listing.  (Again, not a PO Box, not a mailbox service.) The point being that a customer COULD find your street address if they looked – but it doesn’t have to be directly on the label.

This is good news since it makes it much easier to qualify to omit your street address from the label if you want to.

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NOTE:  The regulation that has been changed is 16 CFR 500.5(c).  As of publishing of this post, some online regulation databases are not yet updated with the changes, including the Government Publishing Office. The notice of the final rule was published in the Federal Register (80:221, page 71687)




11 Comments on “FTC updates business address requirements”

  1. Rita

    Hi Maria Gale . First i want to say thank you for your work helping our industry. I am making a room spray for a kids room. Do I need put all ingredients on room spray? I have seen a lot of room spray on stores and they do not have a list of ingredients. Thanks.

    1. Marie Gale

      A room spray isn’t “applied to the body” so it’s not a cosmetic — no ingredients needed.

      One thing to just keep in mind – if you use a high percentage of alcohol in the room spray, check for the flammability. If it is flammable, it may need shazardous warning. Info on that is at the Consumer Product Safety Commission.

  2. Sharon

    Hello Maria Gale . Quick question to really understand the matter. IF I sell handmade bath & beauty products, I can not list my P.O. Box (which looks like a street address via UPS Store) on my labels?
    And, I rent so, the property managers disallow using their address for ANY business-what happens now? Very disappointed.

    1. Marie Gale

      You are in an interesting postion between a rock and a hard place.

      The law (Fair Packaging and Labeling Act) requires that the business name and address be listed on the product label. It is supposed to be the physical location – the primary location of the business or the place where the product is manufactured – is required on the label. A PO box or a mail box service (such as UPS or Mailboxes, etc. doesn’t qualify).

      Since your property manager disallows using your physical address for any business, and the laws require the physical address …. if you remain where you are, no matter what you do you’ll be in violation of an agreement or law.

      The best I can suggest is that you figure out which is the “least wrong” of the possible solutions and go with that, knowing that there still could be some repercussions down the road.

    2. annie varnadore

      There are many cities that have small business offices, store fronts for $150-$350 depending on your city. Invest in your business and step out split your manufacturing process… for example we did this for a while before getting our store fully operational. Mix the soap and cut at home, set up your shelves for curing , wrapping, packaging, and shipping (maybe selling locally ) , in the small space you rent. Then you can use that address on your labels and not violate any policy!

      1. Marie Gale

        What a great idea! There are also shared business offices in some cities – if you use that for your “business headquarters” that would suffice as the physical location. Keep a computer (or bring a laptop), do your accounting, planning, website updating there and manufacture elsewhere.

        Growing up from there, I’ve seen “storage” type facilities that have a small office space attached to the storage unit. They probably aren’t very expensive, and could be used for storage, manufacturing (maybe — if you can get water), and office space.

  3. Tracy

    Hi Marie! If I have a shop on Etsy and my address is listed on there, would that meet the requirement so that I could omit the address on my labels? I’m a little skittish about having my home address on the labels…

    1. Marie Gale

      Having your address listed on your Etsy sales site should meet the requirements for the street address to be omitted —FROM THE FTC. So that means it applies to products regulated by the FTC. That would be soap – not cosmetics or soap that makes cosmetic claims.

      For cosmetics (including soap that is a cosmetic) the FDA hasn’t changed their interpretation of the law or regulation – the last thing we have from them is “a listing in a print or online directory”.

  4. Tracy

    Thank you so much for your reply! I just want to make sure I understand correctly, if the item is a soap and just plain soap with no cosmetic claims, it’s under the FTC. According to the FTC regulations, if my address is found under a google search or is listed on a website or Etsy shop, I don’t need to list the address on the soap label, is that right?

    I have another question…if the lip balm I’m making doesn’t have any claims to “moisturize” or “heal chapped lips” or anything like that, is it considered a drug or cosmetic? If you do a google search for my business, my address comes up on the search. Would I still be required to have the address on the label itself? I’m just wondering if Google is considered an “online directory” allowing me to omit that information from my labels…

    I have seen some homemade lip balms that don’t have their address on their labels. For instance, I have seen a business in another state who does not have her address on her lip balm labels. Her website doesn’t have her address, either. However, if you do a google search, her address comes up that way. After seeing this, I was hopeful I could label my lip balms in the same way.

    Thank you again for your time and wealth of knowledge interpreting these confusing regulations!

  5. Kimberly Seguin

    Yikes. So if I’m understanding this correctly, any buyer would have access to my personal home address if I am making soaps at home and don’t have a business? Creepy.

    1. Marie Gale

      If you are selling a commercial product, then yse, part of the packaging includes the requirement of a name and address of the person/business “responsible” for the product. If you are making and selling out of your house, then yes, it would be your home street address. Those laws have been in place for 50 years.

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