Product compliance is an essential aspect of goods that are imported into regulated, large markets like the EU and the US.
In this article the China experts at China Gravy break down the main aspects of product compliance and which certificates are required to import goods into key markets like the US and the EU.
Table of Contents
- Consumer Protection and Product Compliance
- Certification and Accreditation
- Main Imports into USA and EU
- Lab Tests & Quality Inspection
- Product Compliance – The Takeaway
Consumer Protection and Product Compliance
Product compliance basically refers to a variety of regulatory requirements, rules, and standards a product must meet so it can be placed and circulated in a specific market in line with the local law.
You may ask yourself why product compliance is important and what benefits they have. These are the key benefits to consider
- product safety
- protecting consumer health
- gaining consumer trust and loyalty
- comply with environmental regulation
- product harmonization
- quality assurance
- legal compliance with local laws
- safety in the production process
Product manufacturers and resellers are legally accountable to ensure the compliance of their goods with the applicable laws and regulations in the countries and regions where they distribute their products.
Certification and Accreditation
The required regulations and certificates are typically centered around consumer health and safety, especially for food and beverages, children’s goods, and consumer electronics.
It is advisable to clarify with the supplier or manufacturer you are considering before signing a purchase order whether they can provide the required certification for the destined import market.
In case the product does not yet fulfill the necessary standards, you can either consider another sourcing partner or give the selected supplier some extra time to acquire the necessary certifications. If you are manufacturing your own products, the original goods may have to be modified to pass the certification, and the buyer typically has to bear the certification costs.
Set up efficient compliance management in your company through policies, procedures and, if applicable, through compliance management software. When dealing with hazardous materials, regulatory compliance is an essential part of risk management.
Main Imports into USA and EU
The three largest trade markets globally are the US, China, and the EU – both in imports and exports. Together they have a market share of 45%. However, in this article we will focus on importing into the USA and EU. More information on importing into China, e.g. food, can be found here.
|Consumer goods (computers, phones, electronic/optical products, pharmaceutical goods)||27%||20%|
|Capital goods (machinery and tools)||26%||6%|
|Industrial supplies (crude oil, natural gas)||25%||12%|
|Automotive and supplies||12%||n.a.|
|Food and beverages||6%||6%|
When importing goods into these markets, for example, from China, a variety of aspects need to be considered. Besides shipping documents for custom clearance, product labeling and packaging as well as compliance are key to complete the import process. These differ from country to country and are regularly updated.
Importing Goods into the EU
The main certificates in the European Union are the CE mark, textile labeling, the REACH certificate, RoHS for electric and electrical equipment, as well as the EU declaration of conformity.
- The CE mark (Conformitè Europëenne) is required for more than 20 product groups, including toys, electronics, and medical products. The CE mark must be attached to the product, well visible, legible, and indestructible.
- Textiles sold in the EU must carry a label identifying the full fiber composition and indicating any non-textile parts of animal origin.
- The EU REACH regulation (Registration, evaluation, Authorisation, and Restriction of Chemicals) is mandatory when using chemicals.
- The RoHS Directive (Restriction of Hazardous Substances in Electrical and Electronic Equipment) is required for electrical and electronic equipment.
- The EU declaration of conformity (DoC) is a mandatory prerequisite to obtain the CE mark and placing the product in the EU market. It must be signed by the manufacturer or an authorized representative to take full responsibility for the product’s compliance with the applicable EU law.
- The electronic certificate of inspection (e-COI) is necessary for all organic products imported into the EU. Prepackaged foods must be labeled with a nutritional declaration, and all foods to be imported into the EU must have an ingredients list.
Next, let’s take a look at the requirements when importing products into the United States of America.
Importing Goods into the US
In the United States, the US Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) provides exhaustive information on permits and/or licenses required for importing goods into the country. Depending on the goods to be imported, the respective Partner Government Agencies (PGAs) and their regulations need to be adhered to.
- Following the CPSIA (Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act) is mandatory for toys and children’s products.
- Following FDA regulations is required for food and food-related items, medication, cosmetics, some housewares, health devices, and more.
- Chemicals imported into the US are regulated by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
- Cars and motor vehicles imported into the US are regulated by the Department of Transportation (DOT).
- Plants, plant-products, wood, and animals imported into the US are regulated by the Department of Agriculture (USDA).
- Alcohol and tobacco imported into the US are regulated by the Trade and Tax Bureau (TTB).
Overall, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) oversees the import process, including product labeling and more.
While having an UL (Underwriter Laboratories) Listed mark is not mandatory, it is a common practice as most large companies only buy products that passed the UL safety tests for computer equipment and electronic products.
Besides the aforementioned certifications and accreditation, there are further marks, which can be helpful to assert the quality of your product and to stand out compared to your competitors.
Although considered an important certification in many industries, ISO 9001 is not a legal requirement.
It is the most recognized Quality Management System (QMS) standard worldwide and demonstrates that manufacturers have good management processes and policies in place.
While Oeko-Tex is not a legal requirement, it is an important industry standard and decision tool for consumers. Textiles and leather products that are in touch with human skin, Oeko-Tex certifies human-ecological safety throughout the product process.
Lab Tests & Quality Inspection
In general, there are several laboratory tests, including chemical tests (REACH), safety tests (childrens’ items), action regulations (DIN), and material analysis (fiber). Depending on the product and import destination, tests are mandatory or voluntary. Even if tests are not mandatory, voluntary lab tests, e.g. Oeko-Tex, can help to gain consumer trust.
A quality inspection specialist like Swiss company SGS can assist with product testing, verification, and certification services. Besides, the China experts at China Gravy can connect you to quality inspection specialists in China who offer high-quality and renowned services at more affordable rates.
Product Compliance – The Takeaway
Ensure regulatory compliance with product safety standards when importing goods into the EU or the US.
Stay ahead of the competition by adhering to this year’s compliance trends digital transformation, prevention of cyber crime, and mitigating third-party risks.
The benefits for your business include
- consumer safety and health
- customer satisfaction and trust
- risk management in supply chain operations
- meeting environmental regulations
- quality assurance and harmonization
- streamlining production processes
- compliance with local laws
A China specialist like China Gravy is happy to help you get started. Redeem your free consultation today!