FTC updates business address requirements

New regulation

The Federal Trade Commission (“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 website that could be accessed by the public and found in a Google search would be acceptable. Since it also mentions an “electronic database,” it is also 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 that’s what you want to do.


NOTE: The regulation that has been changed is 16 CFR 500.5(c). The notice of the final rule was published in the Federal Register (80:221, page 71687)

Soap and Cosmetic Labeling cover

To really be able to create your own labels that comply with the regulations, get my book from Amazon and use it.


25 responses to “FTC updates business address requirements”

  1. Kenyatta Rivera

    If I use a fulfillment center to ship my products to customers are they considered a distributor and can I use their address on my labels? Distributed by…

    1. Marie Gale

      No. The business name and address on the label is the name/address of the responsible party. The responsible party is the one that a customer would contact in the event of issues or adverse reactions to the product. A distribution center isn’t the responsible party–you still are. “Distributed by” would be used when the product is made by another company and then marketed and sold (distributed) by the company on the label.

  2. I know this is an old post but I am hoping to get some kind of answer. I recently registered for an LLC for my cosmetics company but the address as of now is listed as my home address since that is the place where I am making my products as well as shipping them from. I checked on google and my business name was found on two websites 1) bizapedia.com & 2) corporationwiki.com – both have my address on them under the LLC. Is this sufficient enough to omit my physical address and just use the city of where the business is located in? I am making labels for my packaging and I would like to make sure I have the address portion of my labels to be accurate so it isn’t considered “misbranded” or “mislabeled” Thank you,

    1. Marie Gale

      Being listed on those two sites should certainly be sufficient to meet the FTC requirements. Note, however, that those apply to soap that is exempt from the definition of a cosmetic.

      When it comes to cosmetics, the FDA has not updated their regulations, which say the business must be listed in a “print or city directory,” although they have clarified that an online listing in a phone or city directory is sufficient.

      That said, the FTC regulations have been determined to meet the intent of the Fair Packaging and Labeling Act, so it’s LIKELY (although not a certainty) that the FDA would accept a listing in a “readily accessible, widely published, and publicly available resource”—not just an online phone or city directory. But that hasn’t been tested yet. See Street Address—Your Choices for more data.

      The Handcrafted Soap and Cosmetic Guild has filed a petition with the FDA to change the wording of the regulations, but it hasn’t been acted upon yet.

  3. Hello Marie. I am entirely new to all of this. I understand I need to have my ingredients, city, state and zip code on my label. I am getting ready to design my website and know I have to have my physical address on the website from what I have been researching. Is there anything else by law required for a natural lip balm site, please? I cannot afford to pay someone to do this for me, so, I have to rely on myself since I am just starting out. I appreciate your answers and hard work. Thank you very much.

    1. There are no requirements covering what must go on a website selling handcrafted soap and/or cosmetics (including lip balm).

      There are a couple of things to keep in mind:

      First, whatever you say about the products becomes part of the “labeling.” In other words, the FDA can use that to determine if the intended use is as a drug. For example, if you say that the lip balm cures or prevents chapped lips, then the product is intended to alter the function or structure of the body and becomes an unapproved new drug. Even if you don’t say that on the actual label of the product.

      Second, the FTC regulates advertising of soap and cosmetic products. If you make false, deceptive, or misleading statements about the product, then it would violate the “truth in advertising” laws. For example, if you said that your lip balm was good for 10,000 applications or that it would last for 25 years, that would be false or misleading advertising.

  4. I am starting a meltnpour Homemade Soap business, my question is how do I describe my soap on my up coming website, without describing it as a “ drug”. Can I use the word moisturizing, exfoliate, soothing to the skin, rejuvenate etc. It’s really confusing!

    1. Marie Gale

      Claims that the product is intended to improve appearance are cosmetic claims, not drug claims.

      To moisturize, exfoliate, soothe (so long as it’s not related to a specific physical issue such as redness or itching), etc., are all just to improve appearance.

      When you make statements that the product is intended to actually alter the function or structure of the body (work “under to hood” so to speak), then that would be a drug claim.

      People often confuse the idea of a “claim” as automatically making the product a drug. There can be cosmetic claims as well, and they are fine (so long as the product is labeled as a cosmetic).

      There is another category: soap. If soap is the alkali salt of fatty acids and only claims to claim and is only marketed as “soap,” then it is exempt from the definition of a cosmetic. In that case, a “cosmetic claim” cancels that exemption and makes the product a cosmetic.

  5. Does my full name, city, and state need to be on my product although my address can be omitted? Or can I just have my website listed on the label? To be concise, since my address can be omitted from the label.. What should be listed on my label as far as WHO makes it? Thank you very much btw. I’ve learned so much from you already.

    1. Marie Gale

      The business name must be listed. If it’s not the business that makes and sells, it can be modified by “Distributed by ____” or “Manufactured for ____”. It should be the name of the “responsible party”—that is, the person or entity whom the FDA or FTC or a customer should contact in the event of a problem. It must be the legal name. If that’s just you, then your personal name; if you have a DBA, then it can be the “ficticious name” or “doing business as” name. If you are incorporated or have an LLC, then it’s the name of the business entity. If it’s NOT your personal name, it would be the name registered with your state.

      The city, state, and zip code must be listed, regardless of whether the street address is included.

  6. Being that my address can be omitted. Do I still need to put city and state on the label? Or is a link to my website just fine with the address on there?

    1. Marie Gale

      You need the city, state, and zip code.

  7. I know this is old, but, since my address is listed on Etsy, do I still need to list it on the lip balm label?

    1. Marie Gale

      Yes. Your full address, including the street address, city, state, and zip code are required on the product label. The only exception is if your address is listed in a print or online directory.

  8. 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 yes, 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.

  9. 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!

  10. 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 (from the FTC) for the street address to be omitted. 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.”

  11. 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. 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—that 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. 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. 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.

  12. 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. A room spray isn’t “applied to the body” so it’s not a cosmetic. No ingredients list 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 a hazardous warning. Info on that is at the Consumer Product Safety Commission.

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