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Your regular update for technical and industry information

EU: Toy guidance document for musical instruments updated


On 26 February 2019, the European Commission (EC) has published1 the revised guidance document for musical instruments. This is the second updates since its first release in 2010.

The addition of a detailed explanation on the user groups for maracas provides clarity on the grey zone products with toy rattles. While for other general toy musical instruments, more criteria for the determination of age grading were further elaborated. Various examples were given for the differentiation of toy musical instruments from real musical instruments.

The EC also stressed that the reasonably foreseeable use prevails over the declaration of intended use by the manufacturer. Manufacturer must be able to support the claim in case their products are marketed as non-toys.

This guidance had considered several documents for the classification of toys for children under 36 months or over, including the EU toy guidance document No. 11, the U.S. CPSC age determination guidelines, and CEN ISO/TR 8124 part 8.

Table A: Summaries of the criteria for the classification of maracas




Toy rattles in the shape of maracas

  • Look like maracas;
  • Can be easily grasped and shaken by infants even when lying down in a cot;
  • Musical/rhythmical quality is not the aim;
  • Normally sold as single items

Toys for children too young to sit up unaided

Toy maracas

  • For purpose of play and/or simple rhythmical accompaniment;
  • Size not convenient for grasping by infants;
  • Decoration not particularly appealing for infants;
  • Possibly supplied as a pair

Toys usually considered as intended for both children under 3 able to sit up unaided and children of 3 years and over; must comply with toy requirements for children under 3 years old

Maracas (real musical instruments

  • Design not child-appealing;
  • Size and weight may be unsuitable for infants;
  • The objective is musical-rhythmical quality in learning and/or performing


Table B: Highlights of criteria for general toy musical instruments





For children under 3 years old

For children of 3 years and over



  • Low quality of sound or not really possible to tune;
  • May allow producing simple music or rhythmical accompaniment;
  • Can be a scaled-down version of real musical instrument but much more colourful and/or have fewer keys to be pressed
  • Intended to be used in the systematic study of music and/or for actually performing music;
  • Designed for good sound and musical quality


Small wooden tambourines, brightly coloured plastic guitars

Simple wooden flutes, plastic harmonicas

Recorders (flutes) in classic design, tin whistles

[1] No. 10 – Guidance document on musical instruments

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