Face masks marketed for general non-medical purposes, such as use in construction and other industrial applications, are not medical devices. Face masks intended for a medical purpose such as source control (including uses related to COVID-19) and surgical masks, are medical devices regulated by the FDA.
Masks are loose fitting and may not provide full protection from breathing in airborne pathogens, such as viruses.
Respirators are personal protective equipment that tightly fit the face and filter airborne particles to protect health care workers. They provide a higher level of protection against viruses and bacteria when properly fit-tested.
The FDA does not expect manufacturers of face masks for a medical purpose, that are not intended to provide liquid barrier protection, to submit notification to the FDA before they begin marketing their product, or to comply with certain regulatory requirements, where the face mask does not create an undue risk.
If a face mask, surgical mask or respirator requires a premarket submission prior to marketing (not exempt), the manufacturer must wait until it receives FDA clearance or approval before registering and listing.
Registration of a device establishment, assignment of a registration number, or listing of a medical device does not in any way denote clearance or approval of the establishment or its products by the FDA.
It is in the best interest of the U.S. to facilitate and expedite the importation of products into the U.S. market that address immediate, urgent public health needs. To help expedite FDA review of entries, it is recommended that product label/labeling and an intended use letter are uploaded into the Import Trade Auxiliary Communication System (ITACS) at the time of entry.
When importing products authorized pursuant to an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA), reduced FDA information is required for review. At the time of entry, importers transmit an Intended Use Code of 940.000: Compassionate Use/Emergency Use Device, and an appropriate FDA product code. Under this Intended Use Code, the Affirmations of Compliance for medical devices (such as the Registration, Listing, and Premarket numbers) are optional in the U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s Automated Commercial Environment (ACE) system.