The US electrical and electronics market is one of the most difficult to break into, due to its particularities in norms and legislations. In recent years though, the efforts made towards harmonizing legislations have eased and expedited market access for some select product categories.
To a large extent, this has lessened the pressure on producers trying to access the market’s full potential. The single largest market for electronic products offers many opportunities but also presents high risks that everyone wants to minimize. Therefore, the rules regulating the US market must be taken into consideration as early as the product design stage, in order to reduce the risk of possible redesigns or market access costs and product liabilities.
Product Certification by a Nationally Recognized Testing Laboratory
The large majority of electronic products destined for the US have to fulfill state-specific regulations before they can actually be placed on the market. The most efficient way to ensure that a product is ready for the US market is to submit it to a certification process by a Nationally Recognized Testing Laboratory (NRTL). An NRTL certification proves conformity with relevant product safety standards and offers state-level authorities a proper basis for evaluating the product. Furthermore, product certifications minimize product liability risks and act as a strong marketing advantage against competition.
Through a series of quick checks during the development phase or by reviewing a product already available in the European market, testing and certification organizations are able to offer fast and cost efficient product evaluations. Upon successful completion of the evaluation, the manufacturer is presented with a list of critical components that will allow him to develop a product that is compliant with all US market regulations. This will ensure a smooth transition through the testing and certification process and will allow the product to successfully enter the US market.
The greatest challenge in developing products that fulfill US market requirements is to identify relevant product components used in electrical and electronic products that are approved by authorities. As an NRTL, SGS has a database of approved components, which can be of great help to manufacturers.
NRTL Certifications are the SolutionNRTL Certification Marks, such as SGS’s USTC mark, are recognized by the US Federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). They demonstrate that a product fulfills all relevant product safety requirements at the federal level.
In order to receive certification quickly and cost effectively, it is recommended that the following points be taken into consideration during the product development phase:
- Prepare a list of all the countries to which you plan to export your product and establish a hierarchy based on the importance of these markets for your business. For each country, indicate the applicable electrical tensions and mains frequency, as well as the electrical rating of your product.
- Make sure your bill of materials is structured to fit the certification process. You can attach an extra column that includes your approval documentation for critical components such as circuit boards materials, transformers, plugs, cables and casing materials. This list will remind you that any new components acquired have to fulfill these special requirements. Furthermore, any change in suppliers has to be discussed with the design department in order to avoid facing non-conformity issues.
- Collect all the test reports and approvals for components from your suppliers. It is usually enough to keep the first five pages of a report, as these contain the component’s scope and application restrictions.
- Learn about or establish a Harmonized Tariff Schedule (HS/HTS codes). The internationally-harmonized export codes help verify the mandatory certification requirements for each specific country.
- Prepare a product brochure that includes all the technical specifications of your product.
- Make sure you have ready or, at least, start preparing service manuals in all relevant languages.
- Prepare labels that satisfy country-specific requirements and analyze the country’s specifications for ratings and symbols.
- Prepare a list of your product’s manufacturing locations and one with the names of all the importers, vendors and service locations you have in each country.
- Make sure to keep handy inspection reports for products from the same product category.
In case you have a product series, indicate the differences between your various approved products. Upon successful preparation of the necessary documentation and completion of the required product testing, manufacturers have to undergo a final stage before receiving certification – the factory inspection.
Factory inspections are conducted on a regular basis and act as an additional quality management tool, guaranteeing the consistent quality of both the components and the final product.
Product certifications for the US market are valid over the entire life cycle of a product and only need to be completely or partially repeated if safety-relevant components within the product are replaced or if the standards change.
As part of our services portfolio, SGS is also able to offer support for additional US requirements such as:
- Testing of high frequency installations required by the FCC
- EMC measurements
- Network Building System (NEBS) approvals for telecommunication installations by NTS Europe
- FDA registration for medical devices
Learn more about Electrical Safety and Safety Certification Services by SGS.
For further information, you may also contact:
SGS Center for Quality Engineering
t: +49 89 787475 106
The SGS Group is the global leader and innovator in inspection, verification, testing and certification services. Founded in 1878, SGS is recognized as the global benchmark in quality and integrity. With more than 56,000 employees, SGS operates a network of over 1,000 offices and laboratories around the world.