Glossary of terms: CE mark

If you pay attention, you can spot a “CE” mark on the packaging of some products. What does it mean? The CE symbol means that the given product complies with EU requirements and was put into circulation. Which products on the EU market require CE marking?

CE mark

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 (27 EU Member States + Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway).

CE mark

Is CE mandatory for every product in Europe?

Not all European countries are in European Economic Area. Even if the target market is an EU Member State, not every product must have CE marking. If you place products with a CE mark on the EU market when it is not required, you may face the consequences.

CE applies only to the categories of products defined in the relevant directives. The list includes:

  • Active implantable medical devices
  • Appliances burning gaseous fuels
  • Cableway equipment designed for passenger transport
  • CPR construction products
  • Eco-designed energy-related products
  • Electrical and electronic equipment subject to RoHS – Restriction of Hazardous Substances
  • Electrical products
  • Elevators/lifts
  • EMC electronic products
  • Equipment and protective systems intended for use in potentially explosive atmospheres (ATEX Zones)
  • Equipment that emits noise in the environment
  • Explosives for civil uses
  • Low-voltage (LVD) products
  • Machines
  • Measuring instruments
  • Medical devices
  • PED pressure equipment
  • Personal protective equipment (PPE)
  • Products subject to the Electromagnetic Compatibility Directive
  • Products used for in vitro diagnosis
  • Pyrotechnics
  • Radio telecommunications equipment
  • Recreational craft
  • Simple pressure vessels
  • Toys for children under 14
  • Water heating boilers

Who can place the CE mark?

Obtaining a CE marking is the manufacturer’s responsibility.

The 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, an independent quality check procedure is obligatory; in others, the producer can self-assess the product. The CE mark can be placed only if the test reports show compliance and the manufacturer prepares a declaration of conformity.

Check what is needed to place the CE mark.

CE mark and Chinese supplier

Because the manufacturer does the whole process, many Chinese suppliers simply present the best samples for quality check, but they usually perform above the minimal requirements of the CE. If the CE-related clauses were not added to the commercial contract, then the European company would have no method to enforce its rights. The importer must ensure that the products are not dangerous to consumers and provide necessary technical documentation to competent national authorities upon request. The penalty for the supply of non-compliant goods may be severe, so if you are importing from China, perform an on-site quality check.

Where to affix the CE mark?

The marking should be affixed to the product, the packaging, or the product’s identification plate.

How to spot a fake CE mark?

There are a lot of stories about fake CE markings. For instance, someone invented a similar “China Export” marking, which was allegedly put on the products sold to EU countries. “Modified” CE marking that started as a joke frequently appeared on the products. The differences between the two markings are the overlapping of C with E as if it was an O and the middle bar in the E.

CE mark China Export

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


Check the proper CE mark form.

To sum up: if you would like to purchase goods that must have CE marking affixed, you should specify the related requirements in the contract with the supplier. You need to be more careful than ever because you can be held responsible for putting an unsafe product into circulation.