GCC cosmetics legislationGCC cosmetics legislation

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Gulf Cooperation Council

Applicable legislation

The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) is a political and economic alliance of Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Bahrain and Oman. The countries in this alliance share a common body that is authorized to publish the standards applicable in all of the countries: the GCC Standardization Organization (GSO). Each country then has a separate local competent authority that is responsible for enforcing the common standards.

The overall regulatory framework governing cosmetics in the region was finalized and published in 2016. There are three pieces of legislation that cover cosmetic products, each dealing with a different part of the compliance criteria:

  • Safety: GSO 1943/2016: Safety Requirements of Cosmetics and Personal Care Products
  • Claims: GSO 2528/2016: Cosmetic products – Technical Regulation of Cosmetic and Personal Care Product Claims
  • GMP: GSO ISO 22716: Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) – Guidelines on Good Manufacturing Practices.

What type of products are cosmetics?

Cosmetic products are defined as: “Any substance or mixture intended to be placed in contact with the external parts of the human body (epidermis, hair system, nails, lips and external genital organs) or with the teeth and the mucous membranes of the oral cavity with a view exclusively or mainly to cleaning them, perfuming them, changing their appearance, protecting them, keeping them in good condition or correcting body odours”.

The cosmetic product definition is, therefore, a copy of the EU definition of cosmetic products.


The Gulf Cooperation Council cosmetics legislation closely follows the EU Cosmetics Regulation 1223/2009. However, it has some of its own criteria when it comes to processes, ingredients, labelling and claims.

Products should fulfil certain requirements, some of which are: they should be completely free from pork and its derivatives, they should be safe for human health under normal and reasonably foreseeable conditions of use, they should be stable and their properties impacting safety, efficacy and quality should not change during their shelf life, they should be free from any filthy or decomposed substances.

The legislation is organized in the same way as the EU Regulation when it comes to restricted and prohibited substances. Annex II lists the prohibited substances, Annex III lists the restricted substances and Annexes IV to VI list the allowed colourants, preservatives and UV filters—the list of such ingredients is also very similar to that of the EU.

In terms of labelling requirements, it is important to note that the graphics, images and phrases on the labels should be consistent with Islamic traditions and social values, that certain parts of the label have to be translated into Arabic and that claims have to be truthful (the legislation on claims follows the EU common claims criteria).

Despite having the same basic legislation across all of the GCC member countries, each country requires a separate product notification (Bahrain does not require any notification) and the customs clearance process requirements may differ from country to country.


Services offered

  • Product classification
  • Formula review to ensure compliance with the cosmetics legislation
  • Labelling review
  • Label translation to Arabic
  • Compliance with GSO 1943/2016 – product information file preparation
  • Cosmetic product safety assessment

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