By Renaud Anjoran
Some clients have asked us “what is a certificate of conformity” over the years, and we wrote this article to answer that question.
What Is a certificate of conformity?
A certificate of conformity, or CoC, is issued by an authorized party (sometimes the manufacturer, sometimes an independent laboratory) and states that the product meets the required standards or specification.
The CoC can either be requested by a buyer to ensure the product being manufactured has been tested and passes the set criteria within a specification and meets both technical and safety requirements, or it would be a mandatory requirement as stated by country regulations and law for certain products, such as Blue Tooth devices being sold in the USA.
When does a buyer ask the supplier for a CoC?
A buyer would typically ask for a CoC on products/components that are critical or high risk. And, in some cases, specific documents are required for certification or to show the end user/customer, that the product is safe.
Let’s take an example. An airline buys fan blades for their planes’ engines. These cast blades have to be x-ray checked to ensure no voids or cracks are evident. A defect can lead to a failure that might result in loss of life. Therefore, a CoC (whereby the blade manufacturer writes that the blades conform to specific checklists) must be provided.
In some cases, it has to be provided for EVERY part with its own serial number. In other cases, batch CoC would be good enough.
What about the cases where a CoC is requested by a country’s Customs?
Certain countries request a CoC for certain categories of imported products.
The CoC is sometimes called Certificate of Conformance or Certificate of Compliance. It is generally inspected during customs clearance if the product being imported requires it. Without a CoC, products may be impounded, confiscated, and in some case destroyed.
The main reason a CoC is required at customs is to prove a product that the product being imported meets the required standard(s).
What should a certificate of conformity include?
Elements that should be included in a CoC are:
- Product identification
- Description of the product covered in the CoC
- List of all safety regulations the product must pass
- The CoC must clearly list each of the safety regulations the product must be tested for
- Importer or manufacturer’s identification
- Provide the name, full mailing address, and telephone number of the importer or U.S. domestic manufacturer certifying the product
- Contact information for the individual maintaining records of test results:
- Provide the name, full mailing address, e-mail address, and telephone number of the person maintaining test records in support of the certification.
- Date and place where the product was manufactured
- At last the month and year should be shown and the city, state, and country needs to be shown.
- Provide the date(s) and place when the product was tested for compliance with the consumer product safety rule(s) cited above:
- Provide the location(s) of the testing and the date(s) of the test(s) or test report(s) on which certification is being based.
- Identification of any third-party laboratory on who’s testing the certificate depends:
- The certifier must provide the name, full mailing address, and telephone number of the third-party laboratory.
Sample of CoC for a Mattress
On the US CPSC (Consumer Product Safety Commission) website, one can find several samples of CoCs. Here is one example.
In this example, while the mattresses were not required to be tested by a third party laboratory, the mattress manufacturer voluntarily chose to do so and must provide the information about that laboratory. If you do not use a third party laboratory, you may label this section “N/A.” If the mattresses being certified are for cribs or children’s size mattresses, please see the requirements for issuing a CPC.
- Identification of the product covered by this certificate:Luxe Mattress Models #456, 789 (Queen, King)
- Citation to each CPSC product safety regulation to which this product is being certified:16 CFR Part 1632, Standard for the Flammability of Mattresses and Mattress Pads16 CFR Part 1633, Standard for the Flammability (Open Flame) of Mattress SetsIn this example, the two standards for mattress flammability are the only applicable requirements.
- Identification of the importer or domestic manufacturer certifying compliance of the product:MattressSafety USA Importers
123 Good Sleep Way
Springfield, MA 12345
- Contact information for the individual maintaining records of test results:Mary Smith, Compliance and Quality Control
MattressSafety USA Importers
123 Good Sleep Way
Springfield, MA 12345
(549) 456-7890 ext. 99, firstname.lastname@example.org
- Date and place where this product was manufactured:May 2011, Guangzhou, China
- Date and place where this product was tested for compliance with the regulation(s) cited above:June 2011
Guangzhou, ChinaGeneral use (non-children’s) products must be subjected to actual testing or a reasonable testing program and do not require testing by an accredited, third party laboratory accepted by the CPSC.
- Identification of an accredited laboratory accepted by the CPSC on whose testing the certificate depends:Guangzhou Quality Labs
No. 023 Shi Nan Road
Dong Zhou, Pan Zi
Guangdong Province, China. 511453
+(86) 20 09 7723 5467
Do you have any questions or experiences to share about certificates of conformity? Please tell me by leaving a comment.
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Renaud Anjoran has been managing his quality assurance agency (Sofeast Ltd) since 2006. In addition, a passion for improving the way people work has pushed him to launch a consultancy to improve factories and a web application to manage the purchasing process. He writes advice for importers on qualityinspection.org.