Which certifications are required to sell a product

What is a product certification scheme?

What is a product certification scheme?

Product certification is the process of testing your product to meet regulatory standards for a specific market or industry. In general, a product undergoes

  • product benchmarking
  • conformity with specific regulations
  • safety measures
  • product authentication

These are established by specified market-specific schemes around ISO. For example, if you sell toys, the products much meet minimum safety standards for kids under a specific age, as set by governments and businesses. Product certification is often an industry-specific requirement where failure can have serious consequences.

Product certification exists to prevent injuries and general negative incidents that can be detrimental to the consumer.  It is important to demonstrate that your product is safe, reliable and of a certain quality.

Another important reason for product certification is to demonstrate safety and reliability. Measuring these things can help mitigate a consumer purchasing something of poor quality or worse yet, dangerous. Many certifications are used to show that products have passed performance testing and quality assurance testing.

Product certification is important because governments set procurement standards that they must enforce. Businesses and schools usually follow their steps and advice. Creating low-cost products and rushing to bring them to market has gotten much easier. Therefore, it is more important than ever to ensure your products are certified to outperform the competition.

Finally, it's important to get your product certified to guard against liability. While product certification is not always a requirement, it is important to show that your product has been tested for safety to reduce the risk of legal action.

Product certification - Step by Step

  1. Apply - Send an application to the body responsible for providing certification.
  2. Evaluate - The certification body will look at the test data to see if meets the eligibility criteria.
  3. Decide - A second review of the product application to ensure accurate assessment.
  4. Monitor - Once in the market, continue to monitor your product's performance to ensure it still meets eligibility criteria. This is since it is difficult to test all possible scenarios in the lab.

Different types of product certifications

There are many different marks and each have different meanings usually because different countries have different requirements. In addition, there are other factors like the manufacturing process that affects which markings you'll need for your product.

UL Certification

Origin: U.S. and Canada
Acronym: Underwriter Laboratories
This is a third-party certification company with more than 100 years of history. Their logo indicates that the product is safe for workers and customers to use. Think of them as security organizations that establish standards for new products across industries. E.g Electronic components are often UL listed to show that they can handle safe levels of current as promised.

There are some differences between US and Canadian requirements if there is a "c" on the left the product complies with Canadian standards but may not meet US standards.

CSA Certification

Origin: International Certification
Abbreviation: Canadian Standards Association

CSA Group is another certification company established in Canada 100 years ago; however it is now internationally respected to indicate that products have been independently tested and certified. It shows consumers that your product meets accepted safety or performance standards in many different countries.

Unlike UL certification CSA is widely recognized and respected around the world. This means you can sell your products in new markets more easily.

CE Mark

Origin: European Union
Acronym: Conformitè Europëenne

CE marking has been used on products since 1985. It shows that the product meets the health safety and environmental protection standards of different industries. This is usually a requirement for many products sold in the EU. When applying for this mark you need to provide paperwork and documentation to demonstrate your product meets standards.

The confusing aspect here is that it's not a sign of quality it's really just a sign that you have documentation to prove that you meet certain standards. There is no testing done by a third party that approves the CE mark and in some cases you can actually certify own product.

WEEE Compliance

Origin: European Union
Acronym: Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment

This European Community Directive was established in 2002 to combat excessive levels of hazardous and toxic waste generated by electronic products in landfills. E-waste is extremely dangerous and difficult to dispose of so this directive sets out the responsibility to reduce e-waste Waste on companies and manufacturers.

It indicates that your product complies with the e-waste separate collection process recycling and recycling standards. The mark protects human health in the long term by reducing environmental pollutants.

RoHS Compliance

Origin: European Union
Acronym: Restriction of Hazardous Substances

Similar to WEEE compliance this mark indicates compliance with regulations restricting the use of certain hazardous materials found in electrical and electronic products. The RoHS Directive imposes a series of restrictions on the material content of new materials for European manufacturers. Electronic equipment placed on the market.

Both WEEE and RoHS compliance are related to e-waste but RoHS focuses on the safety of material components in products while WEEE focuses on recycling and reducing e-waste processes around products.

FCC Certification

Origin: US and Canada
Abbreviation: Federal Communications Commission

This is the most common certification as it is mandatory for most electronic components to enforce communications laws and regulations. It ensures that your product does not interfere with existing communication frequencies.

While the FCC regulates certifications in the US and Canada they are more broadly referred to as EMC/EMI certifications.

Importance of product certifications

Product certification can be daunting but it is an important step in the product design and development process. Many of these marks indicate that your product is safe for consumers and must meet ethical requirements set by governments and well-respected certification companies.

To sell your product, it must not only be useful, it must also be reliable. In almost every industry, consumer decisions are guided by this which is why this is an essential aspect of product development.