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Friday, 6 January 2012

Advice from the Trading Standards Institute

Below are solutions to the requirements outlined by the Trading Standards Institute when selling used electrical items.

1.  If you are in the business of selling any second-hand electrical goods, you should be aware that the goods must meet legal safety requirements and if you sell unsafe goods, and they cause injury or damage you have to pay compensation.

Solution: Find out what is required to check electrical goods fully - Training course or Distance Learning Course

2.  If the equipment you are selling complies with an acceptable standard, eg a British/European Standard, it will normally meet safety requirements.

Solution: Look for the CE mark on the rating label - see below. If it is not there do not sell the item. Dispose of it carefully.

3.   Distributors and retailers, including second-hand dealers and auctions, must only sell appliances that are correctly fitted with an approved plug with sleeved neutral and live pins and the correct fuse.

Solution: If a 3A or 5A fuse is fitted, this can be left in place. If a 13A fuse is fitted then check the power rating - this is usually marked in Watts on the rating label. If the power is more than 700W then leave the 13A fuse in place. If it is less than 700W then change the fuse to a 3A one.

See the black plastic insulation on the Live and Neutral pins of this plug. If this is missing - like on old plugs, then a new plug must be fitted before the appliance is made available for sale.

There must be instructions on how the plug has to be wired. The image above shows a commonly available plug wiring tape.

4.   Electric fires for use in the home must have a fireguard that meets British Standards, or the European equivalent.

Solution: If in doubt, do not sell electric fires with fireguards.

5.  If you sell second-hand electrical goods which are unsafe or incorrectly labelled and you haven't taken reasonable precautions to avoid this, you may be prosecuted.

Solution: Keep records to show that all relevant safety checks have been done.

Summary: Most charity shops can start selling used electrical items by following the simple steps outlined above.


  1. Sorry but Number 3 is wrong, I am a qualified PAT tester and have completed the PAT testing Management course.
    The fuse size is determined by the flex cables cross sectional area (mm2) on the cable it will have the mm2 size.
    0.5mm2 3A
    0.75mm2 6A
    1.0mm2 10A
    1.25mms 13A

  2. It is not compulsory to fit the maximum fuse that the cable can support. For example if a 150 W electric fan has a 1.00 mm2 cable one does not have to change the 3 A fuse in the plug to a 10 A fuse.

  3. The IET code of practice states that a BS 1363 can be used even if the live and neutral pins are not sheathed only that they cannot be re used (table VII.1 p15) This conflicts with your above statement that they should be changed for a sheathed pin plugs. Is this a legal - mandatory requirement of trading standards or purely a recommendation ? I am to test some equipment for a charity shop though it may not be cost effective if half a dozen or more plugs have to be changed.

    1. Hi Mark, THE IET Code of Practise covers in-service testing. Trading Standards advise on selling used electrical items. The point you raise is one of the key differences between the two. The requirements for items for sale to have sheathed Neutral and Live wires is quite clear - you should not compromise on this.

      Unfortunately there is no national Trading Standards body - just local ones. If you follow this link ( you will see the advice from Derbyshire TS.

      The other item that people often miss out is a label specifying how to wire a plug. This is a requirement as well.

  4. Hello again. Do you have any idea where I can buy the wiring diagram that has to be fitted to the lead before selling the appliance ( again is that a requirement ? ) If the plug, appliance is good, safe and has been tested by a competent person and the appliance labelled. Do you have to fit this diagram to appliance ? Cheers

    1. Hi Mark, you can get some from here

  5. Is it legal to sell old and unchecked items by cutting off the mains lead? I think not, but my shop manager thinks it is O.K. to sell antique electricals this way.
    Brian H