Street Address – Your Choices

Even though the requirements for the street address on the label are pretty clear cut, it still seems to be an issue for those working out of their homes.

The street address IS required on the product label, but may be omitted under certain circumstances (the city, state and zip code are always required).  The regulations that define those “certain circumstances” are different for cosmetics and other products (including soap when it is exempt from the definition of a cosmetic).

NOTE: A PO Box does NOT qualify as a street address.

Cosmetics

The FDA regulations still say the street address may be omitted if it is included in a “city or phone directory”.  In their 2015 response to the HSCG’s petition to allow a PO box, they clarified that it may not be  a PO box, but did say that it could be an online or print directory and gave some examples.  See my blog post FDA Responds to HSCG PO Box Petition for more details.

Non-Cosmetics

For products that are not cosmetics (including soap that is exempt from the definition of a cosmetic), the FTC regulations apply.  The FTC recently updated their regulations defining what standards must be met in order to omit the street address from the label.  Basically, the address must be published in a readily accessible, widely published, and publicly available resource,  which most likely includes a publicly accessible website or an online database (such as a state business listing).

Your Options

In deciding how to handle the issue of your street address and your label, you have a couple of possibilities:

a. Use the street address on the label.

This always works.

b. List your business – with the street address – in an online phone or city directory.

This meets the requirements to leave the street address off the label for both cosmetic and non-cosmetic products.

c. List your street address on your “readily-findable, publicly accessible” website ot directory.

This meets the requirements to leave the street address off the label for non-cosmetic products.

This does NOT meet the requirements for cosmetic products.  However, if you do this and it comes to the FDA’s attention, you have the potential justification and explanation that the regulations from the FTC were likely vetted by their attorney and do comply with the Fair Packaging and Labeling Act.

Your Choice

You will need to decide what is the best course of action for your business and your situation.

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[Update – April 27, 2021]

In 2019, the Handcrafted Soap and Cosmetic Guild (HSCG) filed a Citizen Petition with the FDA to update their regulations to match the wording from the FTC. No answer or action has been taken on it as yet. You can read about the petition here.

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Discussion

37 responses to “Street Address – Your Choices”

  1. Can a virtual office address be used instead of a physical home address? Someone in one of my soaping groups just mentioned this is how they label their products.

    1. No, unfortunately not. The FDA, in responding to a petition by the Handcrafted Soap and Cosmetic Guild cited a Supreme Court decision which clearly stated that the address of a business is where the “decision-making” is done. It’s an actual, physical location (not virtual, post office, or paid mail box service). You can put the street address on a website or in an online directory under a listing in your business name … but the street address needs to be available. Honestly, it’s pretty easy to get a person’s or business’s street address – it’s generally public record. Trying to get around anyone knowing your street address is sort of useless.

  2. I like the HSCG directory option; however, I just followed the link in the thread above and was not able to view the directory because I’m not a member yet. I’m wondering if this means that the HSCG directory is actually not a “publicly available resource,” and therefore not acceptable. What are your thoughts on this? Thank you so much!

    1. Apparently the original poster used the member link to the directory. I edited her comment so it goes to the actual directory. The correct link is https://www.soapguild.org/consumers/find-soap-cosmetics/search.php

      1. Thanks so much!

  3. Thank you so much for all the information. I do have a question. My physical address is already registered in an online directory and I no longer have to include it on the labels. Do I have to make public my physical address on my website (online store) tho? or there is no need now that is on the directory?
    Thank you again Marie

    1. The label requirements is that the street address is included on the label UNLESS it is included in an online phone or city directory (for cosmetics) or in a readily accessible, publicly available source (for soap exemped from the definition of a cosmetic).

      There aren’t any requirements for your address to be on your website. HOWEVER, it’s considered bad practice (generally and by Google) not to have full contact information on a website. If the website is visible internationally, I believe physcial contact information is required under the GDPR. Personally, I rarely purchase from a website that doesn’t tell me where the company is located.

  4. I live in NYC, and I don’t want to list my apartment number in the street address, is that okay? I also may be making my product in two places in the next few months- is it at my discretion to list which address, or the one I spend the most time at? I’m currently looking at office space here as well, but with Covid things are a bit more tricky.

    1. The FDA regulations require the actual physical street address of the “place where business is conducted”.

      The address on the label should be a way in which a person or the FDA (or the the state agencies) can contact you in person or by mail. If your apartment number is needed for that, then it should be included on the label. If you still get amil without it, then if would be your call.

  5. I rarely see addresses on candles but I know it’s required. Some people even just put the city/state and that’s it. Is it okay to just put the city and state or just the entire address down to the house number is required. Just wanted to see for loop holes because I don’t want to put my apartment.

    1. The requirements for non-cosmetic items are that the business name and address are required, but the street address may be omitted if it is published in a readily accessible, widely published, and publicly available resource (such as a findable website or an online directory).

      the address must be the legal address — of it you have a house number or apartment number that is necessary for the legal address, then that should be included in the information either on the package or the readily accessible, widely published, and publicly available resource.

  6. Does the online directory listing at Handcrafted Soap & Cosmetic Guild qualify as an online directory for soap labels? https://www.soapguild.org/consumers/find-soap-cosmetics/search.php

    1. I would expect that it does. You would need to include your street address in the listing.

  7. Thank you Marie Gale! I have learned so much from your knowledge. My business is to registered as a sole proprietor with a fictitious name. It will be registered with Tennessee secretary of state business entity having the addressee showing there. Than for soap labeling I would than not have to add my address on the label?

    1. If soap is exempt from the definition of a cosmetic, then the FTC regulations apply and a listing with the Tennessee Secretary of State would work – so long as it is readily accessible and easily findable.

  8. Does the FDA just not care that this is a safety issue? I am stuck between a rock and a hard place. I don’t have the money to rent somewhere to make my stuff, but I cannot list my home address on every label. I just can’t. It’s so incredibly frustrating and I don’t know what to do.

    1. It’s part of the original law that was written for packaging and labeling of products. My suggestion is to list your home address with your phone number under your business name in a yellow pages online and then not put it on your label. Your home address is findable online anyway, so you don’t have any additional exposure in a yellow pages. But it does make it so you don’t have to put it on every single label.

      1. Thank you so much this is exactly what I was looking for

  9. Can I use my registered agent address on my label? In my state I can use that address as my business address and they receive all my business mail scan it and email it to me.

    1. The business name and address must be the legal business name and the actual address at which the business is conducted (not a registered agent).

  10. For my soap, can I put just the address on the back label with my ingredients?

    1. Yes – the address should go on the back (or sides or bottom). On the back with your ingredients in the typical way of doing it.

  11. For the address, can I use a UPS mailbox, which is a physical address and not a P.O. Box? I would not be making any cosmetics claims about the soap.

    1. No – No UPS box, even if you use the street address of the UPS store. The “business address” is the place where the actual business decisions take place or the product is actually manufactured — which doesn’t happen in a UPS store or little mailbox.

      If it’s just soap, exempt from the definition of a cosmetic, you may omit the street address from the label the business is listed in an readily accessible, publicly available database, directory or website, and the street address is included. Most business names are registered with the Secretary of State or the Division of Corporations (or whatever it is called in yur state) and the physical address is part of the listing … so that should work.

  12. I am planning to place my soap items on the market and some will have cosmetic claims. In some of the soaps I would like to use natural colorants from plants and also use mica’s. I’m confused as to the definition of “approved” and “certified” mentioned in your book on page 144-145. Am I correct in that the terms “approved” and “certified” are the same thing? But then looking at the page 147-148, certain additives are exempt…. “those colors which are exempt from certification must be approved as color additives” has me going in circles!! LOL Bottom line, is the chart on 147-8 “approved” to use as color additives when applied correctly with the “uses and restrictions” listed in the chart ONLY under a “soap” label and not a “cosmetic” label? THANK YOU!!

    p.s. LOVE your Labeling book! It could save everyone a lot of trouble in the long run!! Thanks for going to the tedious undertaking of compiling it and breaking down the “lawyer-ease” for us!

    1. I’m going to go ahead and answer here …

      A “certified” color is one that the FDA has to check before it can be sold. They test for purity and then “certify” that the batch is good. That’s done at a manufacturer level.

      An “approved” color additive is one that the FDA has approved for use in particular types of products. There are some color additives approved for food, some for cosmetics, some for drugs. An approved drug could be a certified color (usually those are FD&C dyes) or a more natural color additive, like titanium dioxide or alkanet root.

      Soapmakers tend to use all sorts of things to get color into their soap. BUT, if the soap is a cosmetic, then the materials used to COLOR the soap must be those that are approved by the FDA for use in cosmetics (and sometimes there are limitations on how the color can be used).

      Granted, the FDA is unlikely to target you if you are using sage to make a beauatiful green soap … but they COULD, because sage isn’t an approved color additive. And if you got on their radar for that or some other reason, it could certainly be an issue.

  13. What products require warning labels? Thanks for your help.

    1. From the FDA: Anything with untested, possibly unsafe ingredients, bubble bath, feminine hygiene products, tanning products without sunscreen and aerosol prodocuts.

      From the Consumer Product Safety Act: Hazardous materials (for cosmetics, the only hazardous materials I’ve found that might be applicable is more than 2% bergamot essential oil, orris root, or sprays or perfums that have an alcohol base and could be flammable). There are also some requirements for warnings for non-cosmetic products for children (toys, etc), which might apply to toys embedded into soap for childrens products.

  14. Hello Ms. Marie Gale,

    Outside of street address being listed on soap labels what are all of the other information that needs to be listed on your label, and are candle requirements the same?

    1. What the product IS (the identity) and the net contents are required on all packages (soap, cosmetics, candles, food, drugs, toilet papers, etc) on the front of the package and the name and address somewhere (usually the back or sides).

      Ingredients are required on cosmetics, food and drugs.

      Candles may require the “burn time” (although I think that depends on the state).

      Some products require warning labels.

  15. I am importing my sisters salve. Would using her street address in the foreign country work?

    1. If you are in the US, then the imported product needs to be labeled correctly for import (otherwise it won’t be accepted into the country). The label must have the manufacturer’s or distributors address – even if it is in a foreign country.

      If you are outside the US, you’ll need to follow the regulations for the importing country.

      Also, I noticed that the Aya balm site has claims on it that would make the salve an unapproved drug in the US (and probably most other countries). You might want to rethink that.

      1. Thank you, yes, I have told my sister she has to take all the claims off. I am building a separate site in the US, but have told her those claims cannot be made on any website anywhere. She should be fixing now.

        I have purchased your book and am going through it, but am still not clear of what ‘labeled correctly for import’ means. I am assuming if we put her company name and address (street, town, country, zip) on the back label we will be okay. Even though it is a 0.6oz tin.

  16. If a business card with the street address is always included with every purchase, does this qualify as meeting the requirement for both cosmetic and noncosmetic?

    1. The intention of the regulations is to make it possible for the consumer to make “value comparisons” when shopping. They are supposed to be able to see the information when shopping, before purchasing. So technically just putting a business card in with the purchase wouldn’t be sufficient. the only possible exception would be if you are selling in person, at a craft show for example, where the information is posted and visible, you’re selling unpackaged soap and then you include the card with the purchase.

  17. Do you think listing my address on an Etsy or FaceBook page qualify as “readily-findable, publicly accessible”?

    1. I dont’ know exactly what the standards are … but my guess is that “readily-findable” would be that it comes up in a search at Google and is high enough on the list that someone would see it (first page, maybe?). I honestly don’t know how Google does with indexing Facebook or Etsy pages, so I can’t comment for sure.

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