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It seems like translating product packaging for export to a different country would be a fairly straightforward process. There might be issues of branding to contend with, but once you’ve got that figured out, the rest is just words on a page (or package), right? Not quite. There are a number of compliance issues you need to be aware of depending on what country you are exporting to, and your type of product. These special regulations are often overlooked by retailers, and can result in a lot of extra fees and costs if not followed properly. Here are a few special translation requirements to be aware of:
Special Requirements for Countries
Different countries have different requirements for labeling and translation, including a few you might not expect. Canada, for instance, requires certain information to be listed in both English and French. And if you’re selling your products in Quebec, the regulations are even stricter for bilingual labeling.
Mexico requires all labels on all packaging to be provided in Spanish. This isn’t too surprising, but it’s something your company may accidentally overlook when exporting across the border. And another often overlooked requirement: all labels and packaging in both Mexico and Canada must use the Metric system in their measurements. Do you export a product whose weight is listed in pounds and ounces? Be sure to translate it to grams and kilograms before sending it across either border.
Special Requirements for Products
In addition to country-specific requirements, there are also packaging stipulations that might apply only to specific types of products within a particular country. For instance, the European Union recently adopted rigorous nutritional labeling regulations for packaged food and consumables, similar to those in the United States.
In the past, nutritional content was provided by retailers on a strictly voluntary basis, and could be as detailed or as “bare bones” as they wanted. Now, however, a number of nutritional facts must be listed on any food packaging, in any country in the EU. Specifications include fat content, salt, carbohydrates, and more, as well as a complete list of ingredients and a special mention of any allergens in the product.
This all sounds very similar to the nutritional facts labels required in the United States. But remember, each label must also be accurately translated into the language of every European country to which you’re exporting your product.
And food labels are just the tip of the iceberg. Are you exporting clothing? You need to include a care label to let users know how to wash and dry each item properly. Are you exporting anything that may be hazardous or pose any risk to the user? You’ll need a warning label explaining exactly what the hazard or caution may be. And don’t forget any user instructions for operating the product, as well as applicable warranty information. These labeling requirements need to comply with each country’s individual regulations and also need to be translated clearly and correctly for users to understand.
All of this is a lot for a company to deal with, especially while attempting to manage and maintain a brand across multiple countries. The best course of action is to employ a specialized retail translation services provider to assist and guide you through these issues. Using an itemized checklist and plan, they can ensure compliance with the regulations for any country you export to, and provide accurate translations of all packaging so that your customers stay well-informed and up-to-date in any country and any language.
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