Planning to import or manufacture electronics in the United States? In this guide, we explain the certification authorization procedure requirements for devices that fall under the scope of FCC 47 CFR Part 15. This includes documentation, labeling, and testing requirements.
We Help Brands & Importers With Product Compliance (US & EU)
- Book a free consultation call today with Ivan Malloci to learn how we can help you with:
- Product Requirements Lists
- Product Certification
- Product & Packaging Labeling
- Lab Testing
What is FCC Certification?
The Office of Engineering and Technology (OET) administers two equipment authorization procedures, that is, the certification procedure and the Supplier’s Declaration of Conformity (SDoC) procedure. These procedures intend to ensure that radiofrequency devices comply with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC)’s requirements.
The certification procedure is the most rigorous equipment authorization procedure, and it’s meant for radio frequency devices having the highest potential to cause interference to radio services.
Specifically, the certification procedure is mandatory for most intentional radiators (e.g. wi-fi enabled devices) and some types of unintentional radiators.
Once the procedure is completed, an FCC-recognised Telecommunication Certification Body (TCB) issues a grant of certification based on the applicant’s submitted documentation and test data.
Importers and manufacturers of intentional radiators and other devices that require certification must fulfill the following requirements:
1. Have an authorized test lab carry out compliance testing
2. Obtain an FCC Registration Number
3. Obtain a Grantee Code
4. File an application with a TCB for a grant of certification
5. Submit required documentation to a TCB (e.g., technical report)
6. Receive the grant of certification
7. Affix the necessary labeling to the product and its packaging
8. Maintain and retain relevant documentation
Equipment Authorization Procedure
The FCC requires the responsible party (e.g. the manufacturer) to ensure that its products undergo the certification authorization procedure before they place their devices on the market (if the products require certification).
The responsible party must test its devices to determine compliance with relevant technical requirements. The tests must be conducted by an FCC-recognized accredited test lab.
Request FCC Registration Number
The responsible party:
a. Must obtain a 10-digit FCC Registration Number (FRN) identifying the company by registering here
b. Can also use this FRN for future approvals
Request Grantee Code
After acquiring an FRN, the responsible party:
a. Must apply on the Grantee Registration website to obtain a Grantee Code
b. Can use the Grantee Code for future approvals
The responsible party must then apply for a grant of certification with a TCB. The application process mandates that it must submit a technical report to the TCB for review.
We explain what type of information must be included in the technical report below.
Grant of Certification
Once the responsible party applies for a grant of certification, the TCB reviews the submitted information to determine the product’s compliance with the FCC’s requirements.
If the TCB deems the product compliant, it uploads the submitted information to the FCC Equipment Authorization Electronic System (EAS) – Database. It then issues the grant of certification to the responsible party.
Which products require FCC certification?
The FCC requires certification for most intentional radiators, and some types of unintentional radiators.
Here are some examples of intentional radiators that must be authorized via the certification procedure:
- Wireless garage door openers
- Wireless microphones
- Radiofrequency universal remote control devices
- Cordless telephones
- Wireless alarm systems
- Wi-Fi transmitters
- Bluetooth radio devices
Note that, for some types of intentional radiators (e.g. the one listed on 47 CFR Part 15.201) it is sufficient to adhere to the Supplier’s Declaration of Conformity (SDoC) authorization procedure, which is less stringent.
Also, some types of home-built devices are exempted from equipment authorization (see 47 CFR Part 15.23 for details).
The certification authorization procedure is also mandatory for some types of unintentional radiators:
- Scanning receivers
- Radar detectors
- Access broadband over power line (Access BPL)
However, for most unintentional radiators, the SDoC procedure is sufficient.
Devices containing intentional and unintentional radiators
Some devices comprise components that are classified as intentional radiators (e.g., radio transmitters) and components that are classified as unintentional radiators (e.g., digital circuitry). As such, responsible parties might have these devices undergo both approval procedures:
- Certification for intentional radiator components
- SDoC for unintentional radiator components
Note that you can also choose to undergo the certification procedure for the whole device.
What is the difference between Certification and SDoC?
Certification and SDoC are two different types of equipment authorization procedures. Generally speaking, intentional radiators require authorization via the certification procedure, while unintentional radiators require the SDoC procedure. Below we list the main differences between the two procedures.
Authorization from an FCC-recognized TCB
The certification procedure is more stringent as it requires the responsible party to seek authorization from an FCC-recognized TCB.
On the other hand, the SDoC procedure simply mandates the responsible party to ensure their product complies with relevant technical standards or requirements. The responsible party is not required to apply for equipment authorization with a TCB.
Both procedures require the responsible party to provide test reports proving that the product conforms to the relevant requirements, which might vary according to the devices.
a. Certification – As part of the process, an FCC-recognized accredited lab must test the product, and the responsible party must submit their received test report to a TCB
b. SDoC – The responsible party must submit a test report upon request by the FCC. However, it is not compulsory to use an FCC-recognized testing lab
Responsible parties who have their products undergo either procedure must include a compliance statement on their product’s label. Additionally:
a. Devices that require certification must be labeled with an FCC ID
b. Devices that require to undergo the SDoC procedure must be labeled with the:
- Trade name
- Type or model number/serial number
- FCC Logo (optional)
The responsible party must submit supporting documentation (e.g., a technical report and test reports) before the FCC grants them certification for their products.
You must submit a technical report, which includes the required information such as the following:
a. Applicant’s and their agent’s full name, mailing and email addresses, and telephone numbers
b. A written and signed statement certifying that their equipment is not exempt from equipment authorization
c. An affirmative or negative statement concerning whether the Covered List includes the applicant as a company that manufactures covered equipment
d. FCC identifier
e. A copy of instructions for installing and operating the device
f. A report of measurements offering evidence of compliance with FCC’s requirements
g. Photographs that clearly show the device’s exterior appearance, construction, component placement on the chassis, and chassis assembly
You can find the complete set of requirements in 47 CFR Part 2.1033.
Grant of Certification
The responsible party should file a grant of certification by submitting to a TCB relevant supporting documents and test reports.
The TCB reviews the submitted information to determine the product’s compliance with FCC requirements and issues a grant of certification on the FCC Equipment Authorization Electronic System (EAS) – Database.
Lab testing is needed to offer evidence of a product’s compliance with relevant technical requirements. In the case of the certification procedure, an FCC-recognized accredited test lab must carry out tests (e.g., ANSI C63.10-2013) and issue the relevant party a test report.
The responsible party must then submit the test report to a TCB for evaluation.
Responsible parties of products requiring the certification procedure should ensure that their devices conform to relevant labeling requirements before placing them on the market.
The FCC certification procedure requires importers or manufacturers to ensure their products bear an FCC Identifier (FCC ID).
The FCC ID consists of a:
a. Grantee code – this represents the applicant
b. Product code – this represents the product; the grantee assigns this code
According to 47 CFR Part 2.925, you must ensure that the FCC Identifier:
a. Includes the term “FCC ID”
b. Is legible and readable
c. Is printed with a font size that is consistent with the equipment’s dimensions
According to 47 CFR Part 15.19, responsible parties of devices subject to the certification procedure must ensure that their products carry compliance statements such as the following:
“This device complies with part 15 of the FCC Rules. Operation is subject to the following two conditions: (1) This device may not cause harmful interference, and (2) this device must accept any interference received, including interference that may cause undesired operation.”
Some devices may necessitate differently-worded compliance statements.
For instance, receivers associated with licensed radio services should bear the following statement:
“This device complies with part 15 of the FCC Rules. Operation is subject to the condition that this device does not cause harmful interference.”
Additionally, standalone cable input selector switches must carry the statement:
“This device complies with part 15 of the FCC Rules for use with cable television service.”
In general, you should ensure that labeling information such as the FCC ID and the compliance statement is affixed to their product.
If the device features an integrated electronic display screen, the relevant party might decide to place the labeling information on it. In this case, it should also place the information in the following locations:
- User manual
- Product packaging
If the device does not feature an electronic display screen and is too small for carrying a label, then the relevant party must place the labeling information in the following locations:
- User manual
- The device packaging or a removable label attached to the device
Importers or manufacturers generally need to have their products tested to ensure their products conform to the relevant technical requirements.
For example, the FCC requires importers and manufacturers of some intentional radiators to comply with the following measurement standard:
ANSI C63.10-2013 – American National Standard of Procedures for Compliance Testing of Unlicensed Wireless Devices
47 CFR Part 2.948 mandates that products requiring authorization under the certification procedure must undergo testing by an FCC-recognized accredited test lab.
Here are five such test labs located in the United States:
1. Bureau Veritas Consumer Products Services, Inc.
2. Eurofins Electrical And Electronic Testing NA, Inc.
3. Intertek Testing Services NA, Inc.
4. TUV Rheinland of North America Inc.
5. UL Verification Services Inc.
You can find more labs on this page.