The Board Game Design Course

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Game Design

Making sure your board game box label requirements are met

There are a lot of things you have to make sure to get right when you’re submitting your files to your manufacturer. There are many game box label requirements, as well as so many little aspects you have to make precise.

Bleed lines.

Colour formatting.

Sizing your files perfectly.

I’ve been through the process and I’ve felt the pain of having to go back and forth, submitting and resubmitting files to ensure that everything is just right for printing.

There’s so much to think about, so today we’re going to focus solely on the requirements you need to get right for your box.

I highly recommend you download the Panda GM Guidebooks, which will guide you through everything you need to know about submitting files to your manufacturer.

We’ll be focusing on specific sections of these guidebooks, as Panda has done a great job outlining everything you’ll need for your box to be compliant with all the regulations, as well as what gamers expect to see.

I’ll summarize their points and go into a bit more detail and specific examples of where you can find what you need as well.


Your game will require a Universal Product Code (UPC), also commonly referred to as a barcode.

You can get this from GS1, however, this is a costly option, with recurring fees each year. If you plan on selling your game in certain stores, such as Walmart, you may be required to have a barcode from GS1, yet in most cases, you can get one elsewhere that will do the job for a much lower price.

BarCodesTalk comes highly recommended and will save you quite a bit of money. I am currently using barcodes from here.

Just be careful to use a reputable company. There are some 3rd party services that may be selling previously used barcodes, which could lead to some issues.

Age Warning

If your game uses small parts like cubes, meeples, or dice, you will be required to include a warning label. See the Panda Guidebook for exact specifications.

CE Mark

If you want your game to pass EU customs, a CE Mark is crucial.

You can work through your manufacturer, who may have a testing company that they work with regularly or find an independent lab to complete the testing. Once tested, your game will be able to bear the CE Mark.

Country of Origin

Most games are manufactured in China.

As such, it is required to label your box as “Made in China” near the barcode for customs inspection if you manufacture it there.

Recommended Age

It is required to include the recommended age for your game.

As Panda indicates, it is a lot easier to pass customs inspections on products labelled 14+, so if this fits well with the age range for your game, you might want to consider this.

However, if your game is meant for kids or families, you will obviously need to label the age range more appropriately.


While not a legal requirement, it is always good practice to include markings indicating the number of players your game supports and estimated play time.

Make sure to include your company name and URL as well. This will help customers find out more about you and your games, as well as support safety testing.

Your graphic designer should easily be able to add all of the above to your box, and it is perfectly fine to put all of this on your box bottom, as most companies do. However, the demographics are often printed on the top or sides as well, to make it easier for potential customers to determine if this might be a good game for them.

In most cases, the manufacturer should provide templates for all of the printed components, so that your team can put together the proper files.

Just make sure that they know the specifications in terms of sizing, colours, and approved images. Sharing the Panda Guidebook with them could also prove very helpful if they are not already aware of the requirements or haven’t done this before.

Next week we’re going to wrap things up for this series. We’re going to talk all about how to figure out what to do when and how to keep on top of everything before, during, and after your campaign.

Do you have any questions about game box label requirements?

Please let me know by leaving a comment.

Want to know how to launch your game on Kickstarter and keep your campaign running smoothly? Download my free Kickstarter Checklist now!

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    Another great article Joe! Regarding markings for customs, does this apply only at the bulk import stage (e.g. from manufacturer to fulfilment centre) or are markings also required for international shipments of individual copies sent from fulfilment to the customer?

    Thanks, Ben! There are a lot of nuances to getting your box markings correct, so it is an important topic.

    You will want to get all the markings on your box in the submission files you provide to your manufacturer. That way they are permanently imprinted when the box is created and will be present through the whole process. You get them printed by your manufacturer, then they are freight shipped and finally sent to your customers.

    I hope this answers your questions!

    Hi Joe, Extremely helpful. Is there a way to have a game tested before going into production?

    Hi, Ken.

    You’d need to discuss this with your manufacturer. They generally only produce one physical sample of your game for you to review and evaluate, however, it is more “hand made”, as it uses a different process than the mass-manufactured copies. You could certainly ask them what your options are though.

    Hi Joe, Again, I appreciate your input AND was surprised to see my name in your posting.
    I have three projects in the works. Two have a need for plastic pieces being created. I hope to ( IF POSSIBLE ) to keep MY games made in the USA. In your experience, can you direct me to any manufacturers who may work with start up companies?
    I do not need this in game one. Game two and three, I do. So, I have a bit of time to work on this. Thanks Joe

    Hey, Ken!

    There are a few US board game manufacturers, but of course, you’ll want to check with publishers who have worked with them to determine their quality and communication.

    There are a few within this list, including Delano and Ludo:

    Hi Again, Joe.
    I’ve been working with Delano. I did not think to ask about HOW CUSTOM they can be with game pieces. I will ask.
    One other thing Joe, On label requirements, if I target AGE 13 plus, is a choking label needed. and if so, do you know the EXACT specs it must be?
    Thank you

    Hi, the link to the guidebook doesn’t work. Can you provide an updated one?

    Hi Shannon! Thanks for letting me know about the dead link. Panda now has a number of guidebooks available in their “tools” section, so I have updated the link to reflect this new page. Thanks!

    Hi Joe,
    It’s been a while. QUESTION, I’ve put together a couple of games I’m trying to sell on Etsy. I DO NOT have them marked as required. The packaging is a bit generic. It’s an experiment. Can I get in a jam legally be doing so?

    Hey Ken! If it’s on Etsy, I don’t believe a bar code is required and if you’re not selling to the EU then the CE marking wouldn’t be needed. However, it’s always good to check with the site and seek legal advice if you’re unsure. I’m not a lawyer or expert in this field, so please take my thoughts as my experience only, not legal advice. Cheers.