One of the more complex aspects of international trade is ensuring your products comply with the legal standards of the market you’re selling in, especially since requirements can vary from country to country. The good news is that by complying with the “CE mark”, your products will be in compliance with 28 European Union countries—opening up a market for your business of more than 500 million consumers.
CE stands for Conformité Européenne, French for European conformity, and confirms a product meets all applicable European health, safety, performance and environmental requirements. The CE directive, which applies to both manufacturers located in the EU and importers, makes it easier for companies to conduct trade by providing consistent requirements across the EU market, rather than having to address varying local requirements.
“CE marking is mandatory for a wide variety of products, and you really can’t get into the European market without it,” says Export Development Canada Regional Manager for Europe, Charles Edgeworth. And penalties for incorrect, false or missing CE marking can be steep: a maximum of three months in jail and a £5000 fine for the director of the offending company.
CE marking confirms that a product has fulfilled the applicable requirements of directives set out for some two dozen product groupings—everything from machinery and medical devices to toys and construction equipment. Published by the European Commission, the directives are of two types: protection or safety requirements related to the design of the product, and administrative requirements that regulate how the product is CE marked.
While bodies like the Canadian Standards Association (CSA) assess and determine whether a product meets applicable standards before allowing it to bear a certification mark, the process of CE marking is typically one of self-certification, unless the relevant directives state the products must be assessed by independent bodies.
To demonstrate compliance with the CE directives, the manufacturer is generally required to complete a declaration of conformity, provide a technical file of design and manufacturing information, and correctly apply the CE mark (logo) to the product in the proper proportions and specifications.
“However, the procedure can be complex and some businesses prefer to hire advisors that specialize in CE marking certification, rather than try to do it themselves,” notes Edgeworth.
“But once completed, the CE mark opens up a vast market of consumers in 28 European Union countries, in Lichtenstein, and for some products in Switzerland and Turkey. And with clear CE marking, your products may even clear customs faster.”
The Canadian Trade Commissioner Service has also developed a free, downloadable guide to make the process easier, entitled Six Steps to CE Marking. The guide brings together insights from experts, Canadian trade commissioners and key EU resources.