A series of drafts aiming at implementing the new Chinese regulations on cosmetics [1] had given a glimpse of this possible exemption. Now it’s official! Indeed, the Provisions for Management of Cosmetic Registration and Notification Dossiers, which were published on March 4th by China’s National Medical Products Administration (NMPA), provide that so-called "general" cosmetic products can be imported into China without having to be tested on animals first.

Actually, as far as cosmetic products are concerned, Chinese regulations make a distinction between two categories of products: “special-use” cosmetics and “general” cosmetics. “Special use” cosmetics include: hair dyes, hair perming products, freckle-removing/whitening products, sunscreens, anti hair loss products, as well as all cosmetics “claiming new efficacy”. All other products complying with the definition of cosmetics given by the Cosmetic Supervision and Administration Regulation (CSAR) are classified as “general cosmetics”.

The exemption from animal testing therefore concerns the majority of cosmetics imported into China.

Required documents

However, to benefit from this exemption regime, the Provisions for Management of Cosmetic Registration and Notification Dossiers require to provide two documents:

 A certificate of compliance to the good manufacturing practices (GMP), issued by the competent authority of the country of origin;
 The results of the product’s safety assessment.

Depending on the country of origin, obtaining GMP compliance certificates could be more or less difficult. In France, however, governmental authorities have anticipated the publication of the Chinese text and provided for an online procedure for requesting and obtaining the document.

Exceptions for certain products

In addition, certain “general” cosmetic products will still have to be tested on animals when they are imported into China:

 Products intended to be used by children;
 Products using new ingredients (as defined by the Chinese regulations) during the compulsory 3-year monitoring period;
 Products notified, imported or manufactured by a person listed as a key supervision target by the NMPA.

We were pleased to see that the anticipated update to China’s cosmetics animal testing rules by the National Medical Products Administration has been finalised, exempting some imported ordinary cosmetics from mandatory animal testing from May 1st this year. While some ingredients and products remain ineligible and there are questions about GMP requirements, it is too early for cruelty free certainty, but we’re definitely getting closer. We hope that it won’t be too long before Leaping Bunny brands will be able to import their cosmetics ranges into China and stay cruelty free,” commented Michelle Thew, CEO of animal welfare organisation Cruelty Free International.

Despite these restrictions, this is an important step towards removing impediments on accessing the Chinese market.