CE certification of building materials: what is CE certification
No matter where you sell your products, you may need to meet certain established standards to verify that your products are safe and reliable. In the United States, this usually means that your product is UL Listed, while products sold in Canada are certified by the Canadian Standards Institute. In most parts of Europe, it is CE certified, so if your goal includes presence in the European market, you need to understand it.
Quickly understand CE certification
CE stands for "conform é Europ é enne" and French for "European conformity". If you place it on your product, you claim to be in compliance with the applicable European standard. CE marking is used throughout the European Union, as well as Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway. Together, these countries form the so-called European economic area or EEA. Switzerland and Turkey are not official parts of the EEA, but the recognition of CE labels for many products means that EU certification opens the door for your products in more than 30 different countries.
CE certification scope
Finding a way through the system is not necessarily straightforward. First of all, not all products belong to CE certification directive. For example, cosmetics do not need CE certification, nor do they need food or medicine. This does not mean that you do not need to go through some kind of legal process to sell your products in Europe - you may - but this is not a CE process. If certain categories are met, your product may also be exempt from CE regulations. If you ship antiques to Europe, they are tax-free, as are any products refurbished in Europe or resold and resold outside Europe. Keep in mind that if your product does not meet CE requirements or the broader general product safety directive in Europe, you still need to ensure compliance with regulations in each country. Finally, if you do need to comply with CE certification, not all products need third-party certification. Typically, you can study the appropriate standards yourself, compile the documentation to verify that your product meets the standards, and submit the documentation for approval.
Start CE certification
The first step in getting CE certification is to find out which EU CE directives apply to your products. For example, if you make toys, apply: 2009 / 48 / EC. Many electronic products must comply with 2014 / 30 / EU covering electromagnetic compatibility, and may also comply with 2014 / 35 / EU covering low-voltage products. Sometimes several directives apply. For example, if you make a smart electronic toy with Bluetooth capabilities, you must review all of these instructions to ensure compliance.
Find out how to comply
These directives are intended to remain broad, as they have to be applied to a variety of different products. You can think of them as a set of best practices and explain general principles about how to design and build products. Unfortunately, this has resulted in costly and time-consuming disagreements on whether a product or process meets the standards set out in the directive, so the European Commission has provided more useful and detailed harmonized standards for certain products and product categories. If your product is protected by one of these uniform standards, it's much easier to verify what you're doing through the "right way" endorsed by the EU.
CE certification by the third party
A key detail in the directive indicates whether you need to have your product tested and certified by a third-party laboratory or testing organization. You may think of these as conformity assessment bodies or cabs, but the EU uses different terms. There, they are called "designated agencies" or Nb. If your product does require third-party certification, that doesn't mean you need to spend time and money shipping samples or prototypes to Europe for testing. You can consult Europe's Nando database, which lists certification bodies from all EEA countries and all countries covered by the mutual recognition agreement.
CE certification evaluation of products
The instructions detail what level of validation your product requires and how to do it. There are eight different "modules" covering different products, ranging from recording your own production process to a complete ISO 9001 certification. Once you have identified the modules that are applicable to your product, you need to carefully read their requirements and plan to incorporate them into your production process. Your existing methods may already meet European standards, or you may need to make significant changes. In either case, you need to document what you do at each step. You are obligated to keep the technical documentation for a full 10 years after the product is discontinued.
Declaration of conformity with CE directive
The final step in the compliance process is to create a declaration of conformity for each product you want to sell in Europe. This is not a large number of technical documents that you created in the process. You'll use it as proof of what you've done, just as you used to show your work in math classes in elementary school. The actual declaration itself is usually a simple one page document that lists the basic facts. It tells European officials who you are and the products covered by the declaration. It explains the instructions that apply to your product and the standards that you use, where to record test results, and any questions the person in charge has with your company.
Add CE certification mark to products
When you meet all the requirements of CE certification, you have the legal right - and must - to add CE mark to your products. Generally, the CE mark should be permanent and easy to see. For example, if your product has a plate or sticker with its part number, serial number, and UL Listed on the bottom, you can also choose to place the CE logo there. If one