What is fake CE marking?

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fake ce mark on charger

Some products bearing the CE mark do so without actually being compliant with the required safety and technical requirements. Importing and selling such products can result in fines and sales bans.

In this guide, we explain what fake CE marking is, why such products are available, and what you as a business owner or consumer can do to reduce your risk.


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What is fake CE marking?

Fake CE marking in this case refers to products that are sold with printed CE marking on the product or the packaging, but which in practice do not meet the safety requirements that apply to the product. Below are a number of practical examples:

1. Phone chargers that don’t comply with electrical safety standards

2. Toys containing high levels of lead and phthalates

3. Sunglasses without protective lenses

A product does not automatically become safe and compliant because a CE mark is printed. In order for a product to be correctly CE marked, the following process must be applied:

1. Create a Declaration of Conformity (DoC)

2. Create technical documentation

3. Identify applicable harmonised standards

4. Arrange tests to verify that the product meets EN standards

5. Create print files for CE marking and traceability (e.g. batch number)

What are the dangers of fake CE marking?

The danger itself lies in the fact that the product in practice does not meet the safety requirements that form the basis of the CE marking.

The purpose of CE marking is to signal that the product in question meets the safety requirements that apply under each applicable directive. By extension, the CE mark signals compliance with applicable harmonised standards, which cover technical safety requirements.

It is not the fake CE mark itself that makes the product dangerous, but the likelihood for such a product to not have been designed according to the applicable harmonised standards. Non-compliance with such standards drastically increases the risk of serious safety issues.

Examples

  • Exploding charger
  • Exploding batteries
  • Small toy part choking hazards
  • Toxic substances in plastic toys
  • Unsafe sunglass lenses

CE marking is not a ‘nice to have’, but absolutely essential. In fact, it can sometimes make the difference between life and death. Hence, fake CE marking is deceiving to the point that it exposes consumers to severe risks.

Why are products sold that are not correctly CE marked?

It costs money to manufacture products that meet European safety requirements. It is partly a matter of using more expensive materials and components.

For example, it is more expensive to use phthalate-free plastics when manufacturing toys. Likewise, constructing chargers in compliance with the Low Voltage Directive requires a certain level of engineering and components.

It’s simply cheaper to cut corners and produce products that don’t meet the stringent compliance requirements the EU expects from CE-marked products. Likewise, lab testing is also costly. Sellers can drastically cut costs by not having products safety tested, even though this is in practice mandatory for CE marked products.

Consumers also tend to prioritise low cost before product safety these days, especially as cross-border e-commerce has made it easier to access goods directly from vendors outside the European Union.

It is simply cheaper to sell unsafe products. Many consumers in Sweden and other countries prioritize an extremely low price over safety, which drives the trend.

How do products with false CE marking enter the EU market?

Customs authorities in the EU don’t have the resources required to check every single inbound shipment. Doing so would require that they open and inspect products, and manually check the DoC and test reports.

Hence, some sellers game the system and consider the odds to be in their favour.

But, some importers procure products without correct CE marking because they don’t know better. They may ask the seller for a “CE certificate” and call it a day or assume that their suppliers should know that CE marking is required in the EU.

How can importers determine if a product is not correctly CE marked?

The CE mark is only valid if the supplier can provide a full set of compliance documentation. This includes the following:

  • Declaration of Conformity (DoC)
  • Technical documentation
  • Test reports
  • User instructions

Further, the test report and other documents must be valid for the same SKU and cover the current versions of the applicable harmonised standards.

Fake CE certificate

It is quite common for manufacturers outside the EU to use fake CE certificates to “prove” that the product meets the CE requirements. These documents often have the following titles:

  • CE Certificate of Compliance
  • CE Certificate of Conformity
  • CE Attestation of Conformity

These documents are usually nothing more than declarations that cannot be substantiated by valid test reports. EU market surveillance authorities do not accept these “certificates” as proof of compliance.

How can consumers check if a product is correctly CE marked?

Here are a couple of ways you can check if the product is CE marked correctly:

1. Request lab test report from the seller

2. Request Declaration of Conformity

3. Check that the product name, model and batch number are written on the packaging

4. Check that the company’s name is written on the packaging and that this matches the lab test report and the DoC

As a consumer, it can of course be difficult to determine whether a test report or DoC is correct. However, most suppliers who sell products without correct CE marking do not have these documents to begin with.

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    FREE CONSULTATION CALL (US, EU & UK)

    • Request a free 30-minute call with Ivan Malloci to learn how we can help you with:
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    Disclaimer: The Site cannot and does not contain legal advice. The legal information is provided for general informational and educational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional advice. Accordingly, before taking any actions based upon such information, we encourage you to consult with the appropriate professionals. We do not provide any kind of legal advice. THE USE OR RELIANCE OF ANY INFORMATION CONTAINED ON THE SITE IS SOLELY AT YOUR OWN RISK.

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    Sources: Our articles are written in part based on publicly available information, and our own practical experience relating to product compliance. These are some of the primary sources we use:

    • ec.europa.eu
    • echa.europa.eu
    • ecfr.gov
    • cpsc.gov
    • ftc.gov
    • fcc.gov
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