Swimming aids include flotation-type devices that are usually used to help swimmers learn how to swim, and in the case of emergency, keep wearers safely above water by giving people buoyancy. Depending on where the products are marketed, some types of swimming aids are subject to PPE Regulations in markets such as the EU/UK and Australia.

European Union and the United Kingdom

For swimming aids that fall into the scope of the European PPE Regulation, Intertek offers comprehensive testing and certification services to support manufacturers, distributors, and retailers. Our swimming aids testing capabilities include verifying compliance to various functional, physical, and mechanical requirements according to the requirements of the applicable safety standard EN 13138-1.

What kind of Swimming Aids are in the scope of the PPE Regulation?
Armbands, swimming vests, and back floats are covered by the scope of the PPE Regulation. These products are specifically intended to support the wearer whilst they are learning to swim. Other similar products, such as swimming rings or kickboards, are not classified as PPE.

Under the PPE Regulation, these products are classified as Category 2 PPE, which means that an EU Type examination is required by a Notified Body in the EU (or Type examination is to be carried out by the Approved Body in the UK).

The test standard that applies to these products in the EU/UK is EN 13138-1. Testing to this standard is the first step in the conformity assessment process.

Below is a summary of the key requirements of EN 13138-1:

EN 13138-1 Test description Description or requirements
Clause 5.2 Conspicuity Devices shall have positive contrast to all 4 specified test backgrounds by the standard. If the contrasting appearance is achieved by other means, these have to withstand a minimum pull of 50 N.
Clause 5.3 Buoyancy and residual buoyancy Devices shall have minimum buoyancy as specified by the standard with respect to its type and intended users age and mass range. For devices having 2 air chambers, complete deflation of one chamber shall provide no less than 50% of the minimum buoyancy after testing.
Clause 5.4 Fit and positioning Securely fit and shall not displace accidentally; two simultaneous or sequential actions for the release or opening of the fastening system; free from sharp points or edges and no attached small part shall be released with a 90N pull
Clause 5.6 Materials - mechanical properties Remain airtight after cyclic pressure test; no leakage after punctured by steel needle; materials' resistance to compression and water absorption
Clause 5.7 Markings on swimming devices Markings printed on devices shall resist to chlorinated salt water, salvia, perspiration and rubbing
Clause 7 Warnings and markings Markings shall be printed or debossed and shall be clearly visible when preparing for use and then donning the product. Font height of signal wording (WARNING) and safety information in at least 5 mm and 3 mm respectively.
Clause 8 Safety requirements concerning in-water performance Verification with the device fitted to the appropriate test manikin or human test subject according to its age and mass range, then evaluate the performance in regards to its prevention from sinking, flotation angle, displacement of device on the body, retention of function after failure of an air chamber, if applicable.

Once testing to EN 13138-1 has been completed, the conformity assessment body (EU Notified Body or UK Approved Body) can review the test data together with other technical documentation about the product. When the conformity certificate is issued, the importer or distributor may affix the CE Mark for EU (or UKCA Mark for the UK) to the product in accordance with the requirements of the PPE Regulation.


Swimming and flotation aids are regulated by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) under the Australian Consumer Law. These products need to comply with the mandatory standard, Consumer Goods (Swimming and Flotation Aids) Safety Standard 2017, before they can be marketed in Australia.

What kind of Swimming Aids are in the scope of the Consumer Goods (Swimming and Flotation Aids) Safety Standard?
This mandatory standard adopts and modifies AS NZS 1900:2014 flotation aids for water familiarization and swimming tuition. It covers those flotation aids that are intended for children under 14 years and are designed to be worn on or attached to the user’s body or sat in by the user. Examples are swimming aid vests, attached flotation rings, armbands, flotation belts, back bubbles, and swim seats.

Here are some key requirements specified for these flotation aids in the mandatory standard AS NZS 1900:

AS NZS 1900 Test description Description or requirements
Clause 2.1.2 Finish Free from hazardous sharp points or sharp edges, or defects liable to impair its performance
Clause 2.3 Valves Non-return valve fitted with permanent attached stopper; shall not protrude ≥ 5mm from the surface of the device
Clause 2.5 Migration of certain elements Shall conform to the requirements set out in AS NZS ISO 8124.3
Clause 3.1 Buoyancy of flotation aids Shall meet the minimum buoyancy according to the type of flotation aids and category of wearer (user weight and/or age)
Clause 3.2 Strength of attachment assembly No evidence of detachment in the assembly or slippage more than 25mm of webbing after subjected to the test weights corresponding to its intended age group/user weight
Clause 3.3 Resistance to heat Shall not suffer a loss of buoyancy > 10% of its initial value after being subjected to a temperature of 60 °C for 4 hours
Clause 3.4.2 Resistance to leakage and bursting Show no signs of air leakage after complete immersion in water for 2 mins; no burst when the inflation chamber is inflated to 10 kPa at ambient for 2 mins
Clause 3.8.1 Fastener security Require 2 simultaneous or sequential actions for fasteners release; or at least 50N force applied to open it
Clause 4 Marking and information Shall be legibly marked, in color contrasting with the background, with the information given in the standard

Intertek has decades of experience testing and certifying swimming aids. If you have any quality assurance needs for your swimming aids, please contact our PPE experts.