The value of a CE certificate

What is the value of a CE certificate. A question that comes to mind on a regular basis. To answer the question we should have a closer look to what is actually being done by a certification company to issue this certificate.

A certificate can be made by any one and anybody, there are not many rules for this however the industry has established rules to value a certificate. It is important that the test house that made the certificate does have an accreditation for the specific tests. For CE it would be of much added value if they are competent or notified body appointed by the authorities.

But what is a CE certificate? It does basically only confirm that a product was tested by a the mentioned test house and that that specific product was in compliance with the mentioned directive(s). That does not necessarily mean that the complete product is CE compliant. That maybe sounds strange but if several directives are applicable like in lighting you need to comply with 4 CE directives, if the certificate mentions only one it is only tested for that specific CE directive.

Another issue is that the product is tested. The actual production can deviate and also there has been no production site inspections. In case of certification marks like ENEC there is also production site inspections and market surveillance. A CE certification does not cover that (there are cases where this is covered but that is not for the directives for lighting).

CE certificates do not have a validity date. Generally a certificate older that 3 years should be challenged. Also it can be that standards and directives have changed. A certificate is not withdrawn in that case simply because it is still correct however the certificate is no longer useable for the CE compliance. Checking this is therefore important.

So is there a solution? Of course a CE certificate is a step but the second step that would help you is to have an independent organization look at the product and documents to verify if it is still compliant and more import is it complete. Another possibility is to ask the manufacturer to declare that the products he is supplying are the same as the certified product.

Short checklist:
– certificate issued by a notified or competent body?
– does the test house have an accreditation for the tests conducted?
– are al directives covered by the certificate or only a single one?
– does the manufacturer guarantee that he produces the products the same as the certified product?
– make a thorough check of the validity of the documents and check if the product is actually the same as the product mentioned in the certificate?
– finally check if the directives and used standards are still valid?