What is a Certificate of Conformity and How do You Get One?
When you are importing products from Asia, Latin America, or anywhere else, there are always regulations that you have to be concerned with.
The types of regulations vary based on the product you are importing and the country of import. So, it’s important to do thorough research on regulations and keep an eye on any regulatory changes that are happening in your industry at all times.
Sometimes, you may be required to provide a certificate of conformity along with your shipment for review by customs.
What is a Certificate of Conformity?
This term has different meanings depending on the country where it is used.
In general, it refers to a type of document that provides information about the products you are shipping. It certifies that they meet all regulatory requirements in the country and region where they are being imported.
In the US, a General Certificate of Conformity (GCC) is required for many non-children’s products and needs to be sent along with each shipment. The EU requires what’s called a Declaration of Conformity (DoC) for all products with the CE marking when they are first placed on the market.
Some countries — including Algeria, Botswana, and other African nations — have their own Certificate of Conformity (CoC) programs. These are similar in that they might require a certificate to verify that the imported products meet applicable regulatory standards.
Let’s talk about the GCC in the US and the DoC in Europe to give you a basic idea of the requirements associated with each one.
General Certificate of Conformity (GCC) – US
This is a document required by the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) in the US for certain non-children’s products, which they list on their website.
This certification is based on the results of a lab test or your reasonable testing program.
The CPSC requires that you include a GCC either in printed form with your shipment or in electronic form by referencing a link on your invoice. They provide instructions and give some examples, here.
The requirements they list include the following:
- Identification of the product covered by this certificate.
- Citation to each consumer product safety regulation to which this product is being certified.
- Identification of the importer or domestic manufacturer certifying compliance of the product.
- Contact information for the individual maintaining records of test results.
- Date and place where this product was manufactured.
- Provide the date(s) and place when the product was tested for compliance with the consumer product safety rule(s) cited above.
- Identification of any third-party laboratory on whose testing the certificate depends.
For an overview of the GCC and all requirements visit the CPSC website.
Also, keep in mind that missing documentation is one of the top reasons that shipments get held up at customs in the US. Be sure to always include this certificate — if it is required — so that you can avoid customs delays.
Declaration of Conformity (DoC) – EU
This is a document required by the European Union for all importers who affix the CE marking to their product.
It’s included with your technical documentation and certifies that you take full responsibility for your product’s compliance with all applicable EU regulations.
The DoC needs to include:
- Your name and full business address or that of your authorized representative.
- The product’s serial number, model, or type identification.
- A statement, stating you take full responsibility.
- Means of identification of product allowing traceability – this can include an image.
- The details of the notified body which carried out the conformity assessment procedure (if applicable).
- The relevant legislation with which the product complies, as well as any harmonised standards or other means used to prove compliance.
- Your name and signature.
- The date the declaration was issued.
- Supplementary information (if applicable).
For an overview of technical documentation and the DoC requirements, visit the European Union website.
How do You Get a Certificate of Conformity?
The answer depends on what country you are importing to and the regulations that are applicable in that jurisdiction.
In the US, if a GCC is required, it can be prepared by the importer or manufacturer and included with your shipment. In the EU, a DoC should be prepared by the importer or manufacturer when it is first put on the market.
For the most accurate information, check the website of the relevant official body, such as the CPSC in the US or the European Union website.
To ensure that your products are of high quality and safe for consumers, you should develop a quality control plan that includes both lab testing and inspection.
It is also important to strike the right balance between the price of your product and its quality. To learn more about this balance, we recommend reading the following white paper.
Price vs. Quality: What You Need to Know
When you’re making products to sell in the marketplace, you have to consider the tradeoffs between price and quality. Sometimes, producing better quality products can lead to paying a higher price for manufacturing.
Download our free white paper, Price vs. Quality, to learn how to produce great quality while keeping your costs low.