Glossary of terms: CE mark

We have already started a cycle of blog posts entitled “Glossary of terms”. This time we will describe CE mark, its usage and the most common problems.


CE stands for “Conformité Européenne”. Generally speaking, the mark means that the product meets safety, health and quality requirements and can be sold within European Economic Area (presently 28 EU Member States + Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway). Not every product must have CE marking, it applies only to the cathegories of products defined in the relevant directives.

Obtaining a CE marking is the manufacturer’s responsibility.

Manufacturer must fulfill six steps of registration:

1)        checking the relevant directives,

2)        verifying requirements for the particular group of products,

3)        finding a notified body appointed by Member States, if necessary,

4)        checking the conformity of the product,

5)        providing technical documentation,

6)        affixing CE marking.

In some cases, independent quality check procedure is obligatory, in others, the producer can self-asses the product.

Because the whole process is done by the manufacturer, many Chinese suppliers simply present some well-prepared samples for quality check, but normally they produce above the minimal requirements of the CE. If the CE related clauses were not added into the contract, than the European company has no method to enforce its rights. The importer must make sure, that the products are not dangerous to consumers and must provide necessary technical documentation to national competent authorities upon request. The penalty for the supply of non-compliant goods may be severe, so if you are importing from China, you should go there and perform an on-site quality check.

There have been a lot of stories about the fake CE markings, according to one popular version, someone invented a very similar “China Export” marking, which was allegedly put on the products sold to EU countries. Athough the whole story was a joke, but “modified” CE marking frequently appeared on the products. The difference between the two markings is:


It should be clear that the CE sign design is specified by the regulations, the producer cannot simply use “CE” letters of any shape. So the markings below are also either misused or fake:


The marking should be affixed either to the product or to the product’s data plate. We must remember that not every product must have CE marking, so if the producer puts the mark on a random product, not specified in EU directives, we may also be hold responsible.

To sum up with: if we would like to purchase goods that must have CE marking affixed on them, we should specify the related requirements in our contact with the supplier. We need to be more careful than in usual circumstances, because we can be hold responsible for any losses caused by the unsafe product.