The CE marking for the European Union market can be quite an enigma, especially to novice importers, as they are not familiar with all the standards. Many of them wonder what the correct CE format is. It turns out that the affixation method of the marking and its form are determined by law.
What exactly is a CE marking?
Contrary to the commonly used terminology, CE is not a certificate. If the CE mark is affixed to the product, it conforms with the health, safety, and quality standards of the EU’s New Approach directives. The requirements indicated in the directives differ for individual groups of goods.
The manufacturer’s declaration of conformity implies that the product meets the requirements specified in the directives. Therefore, the CE marking should be affixed to the product.
The affixing of the CE mark is the manufacturer’s responsibility. In addition, in the case of placing the product on the European Economic Area (EEA) market – the importer’s. The CE marking only applies to selected product groups.
CE format – regulations
Once you know that your product is required to have CE marking and has met all the requirements of the specific directives, it is worth familiarizing yourself with the general principles of the CE mark form.
The fundamental document regulating the CE mark form and its design is Regulation (EC) No 765/2008 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 9 July 2008, setting out the requirements for accreditation and market surveillance relating to the marketing of products and repealing Regulation (EEC) No 339/93 (Text with EEA relevance). State Members have their laws concerning CE marking.
Remember that the specific requirements for CE marking are set out in individual New Approach directives. They vary depending on the product group.
Basic requirements for the CE format
The most important rules determining the application of the CE mark are:
- The CE marking may only be affixed by the manufacturer or his authorized representative/the importer.
- It should be placed on the product or the statutory plate visibly, permanently, and legibly.
- The marking consists only of the letters CE, and its height is at least 5mm (unless the specific directive provides otherwise). In case the mark is enlarged, the proportions in the CE mark form in Annex II in Regulation 765/2008/EC mentioned above should be kept.
- If a notified body must participate in the process of assessing the product’s conformity with the requirements, the body’s identification number must appear next to the CE mark. If the product requirements are included in several directives, and the process involves more than one notified body, the numbers of all these bodies should be provided.
It is allowed to place the CE product on the packaging or label i.e., in the form of a sticker, in situations where:
- it is not possible to affix the CE mark to the product (explosives)
- the minimum dimensions of the symbol cannot be kept (due to the small size of the product)
- the label may not be visible and legible to the consumer.
CE and China Export
Correctly affixing the CE marking in the right proportions and sizes is very important. Many marks on the market are similar. They are commonly called “China Export.” These marks in no way confirm that the product meets the requirements of respective European directives. They are applied arbitrarily by Chinese manufacturers.
How to know that the mark is the CE, not a “China Export” one? The spacing between the letters in these marks is different compared to the original CE mark. In addition, in the “China Export,” the middle bar of the letter ‘E’ sometimes is cut at the same length as the bottom and top bars. The differences are presented in the graphic below:
CE marking – importer’s obligation
The application of the CE mark is crucial if we want to place the product on the EEA market. By affixing the CE mark on the product, the manufacturer (and, in this case, the importer) declares its compliance with all respective requirements in the New Approach directives. Therefore, the importer assumes full responsibility for any inaccuracies. It should be remembered that severe penalties are imposed when the goods are placed on the market without the required CE mark. Placing the CE marking when it is not needed is also punishable. That is why it is crucial to get familiar with CE marking before buying products from a Chinese business partner.
To sum up:
- The CE marking must be legible, indelible, and visible to the consumer.
- In justified cases, it can be placed on the packaging or in the form of a sticker.
- Its minimum height is 5 mm unless specific directives provide otherwise.
- When enlarging or reducing the mark, the proportions stated in Annex II of Regulation 765/2008/EC should be kept.