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The top FAQs about CE marking
We often see the letters CE on products we purchase – from children’s toys to electronics, as well as pleasure crafts.
While CE marking might seem like a fairly simple concept, it’s actually very complicated, since it doesn’t apply to every product on the market, and different items will have to meet different requirements.
Here are the answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about CE marking to help you understand the European directive better, and what it means for you:
1. What is CE marking?
CE marking is a certification scheme to demonstrate that products comply with relevant European health, safety and environmental protection legislation. In most cases, this means the Product Directives.
Products that meet these requirements can be marked with a logo to show their compliance, and enjoy free movement across participating countries. The European Commission has referred to CE marking as a “European Passport” for products.
The letters are the abbreviation of Conformité Européene, which means “European Conformity”. Originally, the term used was actually “EC marking”, to match the French phrase, but “CE marking” is now used in all official documentation.
2. What are the Product Directives?
Directives are legal acts of the European Union. They require member states to achieve a specific result but do not state the means of achieving it.
Product Directives are the essential requirements, performance levels and standards to which products must conform.
For pleasure craft and boating products the essential requirements, performance levels and testing requirements are set out in ISO Standards .
3. Which countries require CE marking?
The countries that require CE marking are the 31 countries in the European Economic Area. This includes:
- All of the 28 EU member states: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and the UK.
- Three members of the European Free Trade Association: Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway.
In addition, Turkey has fully implemented many of the CE marking directives, even though it’s not a member of the EU or the EEA.
Switzerland is also not an EU or EEA member. However, it is part of the European Free Trade Association, so accepts CE marking as a presumption of conformity with its own national technical regulations for some products.
Outside the EU a number of countries now accept a CE certificate as proof of compliance and will then register the yacht accordingly.
4. What products are covered by the CE marking requirement?
CE marking is not required for all products. However it does apply to a large number of goods, such as electronics, toys, machinery, medical devices and vehicles, as well as recreational boats above 2.5 meters and below 24 meters in length.
5. How do I check my product is CE marked?
The easiest way to check that a product has CE marking is to look for the symbol. It should be on the product itself, or on the packaging or information that came with it.
If you suspect that a manufacturer is misusing the CE mark, you can request a certificate of conformity and/or a declaration of performance. This should provide test results and other information about how the item meets the relevant requirements as well as stating which harmonised European Standard the product has been CE marked as conforming to.
6. What is the correct symbol to look for when checking CE marking?
The official CE mark comprises the letters C and E, with their shapes based on a series of circles. There should be a specific amount of space between the letters – if you imagine the inner curve of the C to be a complete circle, the outer curve of the E should align with that circle.
The CE mark should always be at least 5mm high and, unless there’s a reason the logo can’t be affixed to the product itself, it should be included on the packaging or accompanying documents.
It’s not uncommon to find products with what appears to be a CE mark, but with the wrong dimensions or proportions. Most often, the C and E will appear much closer together than they do on the official symbol.
This could mean one of two things:
- The product should carry the CE mark, but the manufacturer has used the wrong symbol.
- The product shouldn’t carry the CE mark (either because it’s not required, or the product doesn’t conform to the relevant standards), and an illegitimate (and incorrect) mark has been applied to the product.
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