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Importing Fashion to Saudi Arabia: What You Need to Know

Importing Fashion to Saudi Arabia: What You Need to Know

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is a fast-growing fashion market with many opportunities for brands and retailers. However, fashion imports are governed by a strict regulations that cover everything from textiles to footwear, leather products and jewelry.

In this article we discuss the requirements for importing various types of fashion products and how you can achieve compliance. Read on to find out more!

The evolving fashion market in Saudi Arabia

New freedoms for women in Saudi Arabia have been granted in recent years including the right to drive, get their own passport, travel abroad and live independently. This loosening of restrictions on women extends to dress code. In 2018, the Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman said women no longer have to wear an abaya – a long, loose garment worn over clothes, typically accompanied by a black headscarfor niqab – in public. While women are still required to dress modestly, many are “opting for conservative but creative alternatives: sporty jumpsuits, business-cut robes and even kimonos”, according to The Wall Street Journal.

In 2018, Saudi Arabia also hosted its first ever Fashion Week in Riyadh, giving both local and international fashion designers an opportunity to showcase their work to a female-only audience. And then in 2019, the Ministry of Culture established the Fashion Commission to drive forward the new wave of Saudi fashion talent. These changes have heralded a new age for fashion in Saudi Arabia, with a growing market for both luxury and high-street brands.

General certification requirements for importing fashion to Saudi Arabia

The Saudi Standards, Metrology and Quality Organization (SASO) manages the SALEEM product safety program under which many types of products, including fashion items, are regulated.

Importers of fashion products intended for sale in Saudi Arabia are required to obtain a Product Certificate of Conformity (PCoC) from a SASO-approved Conformity Assessment Body (CB), such as QIMA, before the shipment will be able to clear customs. Before providing the certificate, the CB will verify whether the product conforms with the relevant SASO Technical Regulation which outlines specific requirements around product safety and quality, design, packaging and labelling.

Importers must be prepared to provide technical files to the CB that contain product information and testing data in order to obtain the necessary Product Certificate of Conformity.

Common Requirements

There are some requirements that are shared among the various TRs and are not considered product-specific:

Requirements for leather products

In July 2021, SASO approved the Technical Regulation (TR) for Leather Products which applies to all leather products including natural, synthetic or mixtures of both. Footwear is exempted from this TR as it is covered by a separate regulation, as well as animal hides which are considered a raw material rather than a finished product. It’s also important to note that the display and trading of endangered or forbidden animal hides is prohibited in Saudi Arabia.

Leather products intended for use by children under three years of age require Type 3 certification which involves product testing and a factory audit including product inspection. However, all other leather products require Type 1a certification which only involves product testing.

Requirements for footwear and accessories

In November 2020, SASO published the Technical Regulation for Footwear and which covers men’s, women’s, children and leisure shoes as well as informal slippers, regardless of the materials used.

Professional footwear is included in the TR, however, it is subject to additional requirements under the Personal Protective Equipment and Clothing TR. Medical shoes and shoes that would be considered children’s toys are exempt.

Children’s footwear for children under 36 months requires Type 3 certification which involves a lab test report, product inspection and factory audit report. All other footwear requires Type 1a certification which only involves a lab test report.

Footwear manufacturers are obligated to ensure footwear sizing meets the requirements of the relevant standards (ISO 9407, ISO / TS 19407 and ISO / TS 19408).

In terms of packaging, manufacturers are required to:

The following guidelines are laid out in regard to product labeling:

Requirements for textile products

Published in 2018, the SASO Technical Regulation for Textile Products covers all products that contain textile fibers of at least 80% by weight including home furnishing and décor items (rugs, curtains, blankets, etc.) as well as clothing and apparel.

It should be noted that underwear and children’s textile products require Type 3 certification which involves both product testing and a product inspection/factory audit. All other textile products require Type 1a certification which involves only product testing.

The TR outlines strict testing requirements for textile products and permissible levels for specific hazardous substances. Test results should include:

For textile products, the TR also lays out specific requirements for labeling and packaging as follows:

How QIMA can help

QIMA is a SASO-approved Conformity Assessment Body providing Product and Shipment Certificates of Conformity for products intended for sale in Saudi Arabia. Our team of experts have in-depth knowledge of Saudi regulations and the SASO certification process to ensure your products can clear customs quickly. We offer exceedingly fast turnaround, with PCoC delivered within 5 days and SCoC delivered within 24 hours provided all prerequisites are met at the beginning of the process.

Contact us today to learn more!

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