UL certification refers to several different certification programs provided by Underwriters Laboratories (UL). The ultimate goal of these certification programs are to verify that products or components are safe or meet certain criteria – while also communicating this to potential supply chain operators and end consumers.
This article covers what UL certification refers to and addresses common questions surrounding it, and the difference between different types of certifications. It also provides information about UL certification services and their associated UL marks.
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What is UL certification?
UL certification is an umbrella term that refers to a number of UL certification programs. For instance, with regards to product certification programs, UL has three safety marking services:
- UL Listed service
- UL Classification service
- UL Recognized service
The UL Listed Mark may communicate general safety, quality, or security for the product. In contrast, the UL Classified Mark communicates that the product has been evaluated for specific properties as it was tested under specific conditions or tested for a limited range of hazards.
Thus, not all marks communicate a general approval of safety, and affixing the right mark is necessary.
Additionally, if a product, system, process, or facility is certified to the requirements of a specific country or region (e.g. US or Canada), make sure to use the appropriate UL Mark to indicate the geographic scope of certification.
Is UL certification mandatory in the US?
In general, there isn’t a legal requirement to receive UL approval for your products. However, despite its voluntary nature, there is often an expectation from end-users and retailers that consumer products are safe for use – and verified as such.
As a result, suppliers may be compelled to acquire certain UL marks if they want to place their products for sale on Amazon and other marketplaces – or if they want to adhere to commercial building and electrical codes.
Additionally, for certain products commonly used in the US workplace, the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) requires them to be certified by a third-party laboratory, in order to be approved. Such labs are called “Nationally Recognized Testing Laboratories” (NRTL).
UL is a NRTL. However, they are but one of the many NRTLs. Thus, although NRTL approval is a requirement for certain products, it is not a mandatory requirement to approach UL.
Finally, certain regulations might require compliance with one or more UL standards due to the fact that such standards have been ‘incorporated by reference’.
The term “UL certified” used to have only one meaning – that it served as a general term and referred to any and all types of UL certifications. However, currently, it has an additional meaning due to UL’s introduction of the Enhanced Certification Mark.
The UL Certified Mark in the context of the Enhanced Certification system is an additional UL mark that one can affix to a component or device. Due to the introduction of this new system and the accompanying mark, the UL Certified mark allows producers to bundle multiple UL certifications into a single mark. This reduces the space needed to display multiple UL marks for global access.
Additionally, any UL Certified product currently carrying a UL Listed, Classified or Performance Verified Mark for the US and Canada can switch to the UL Certified Mark and promotional badge system.
Also, products carrying the UL Mark for Japan (UL-JP Mark) and the European Union (UL-EU Mark) can switch to the UL Certified Mark and promotional badge system.
Provided that the product meets the requirements to attain a UL Listed, Classified or Performance Verified Mark for the US and Canada, including the UL Mark for Japan and EU, producers would be able to use the UL Certified Mark.
To use the UL Certified Mark, the producers must first be able to attain one of the previously mentioned marks. Depending on the desired mark, your product would have to meet certain testing requirements.
Enhanced and Smart UL Mark
Under the enhanced certification system, the mark contains the following information:
a. The service is delivered by UL and registered trademark symbol (in this case you would see the word “CERTIFIED”)
b. The scope of UL certification is communicated through the printed attribute displayed in the module of the mark (for instance, you might see the word “SAFETY” printed in the module)
c. The two-digit International Organization for Standardization country code (the code identifies the jurisdiction whose standards are used for certification). Multiple codes may be displayed
d. A unique ID (a unique identifier or a file number is normally displayed. Although in some cases, this might be placed in a different area of the product. This helps with traceability and enables users to retrieve additional information about the product’s certification, and this information is available at UL Productiq
The Smart UL Certification Mark contains the same information as above, but also contains a QR code that users can scan to retrieve more information about the product’s certification.
UL Listed products may communicate safety, quality, or security in general for the product. The UL Listed certificate is attained when the product passes UL’s published standards for safety for a specific category of equipment.
Such marks are commonly seen in the following products:
- Computer equipment
- Furnaces and heaters
- Electrical panel boards
- Sprinkler systems
Generally, for importers and manufacturers to have their product UL Listed, they are required to:
a. Have their product fall within the categories that can be UL listed
b. Submit product samples to UL labs or third-party labs accepted by UL for testing purposes
c. Ensure that product samples submitted pass the required tests
d. Affix the UL Listed Mark on their product (or change it to the UL Certified Mark)
e. Comply with UL’s Follow-Up Services program
Depending on where the product is going to be used (like the US, Canada, or both), the product should meet the jurisdiction’s safety requirements in addition to other UL requirements.
UL Listed Mark
The UL Listed Mark communicates that the product is generally safe. This can be contrasted with the Classified Mark which communicates that the product has been evaluated for specific properties as it was tested under specific conditions or tested for a limited range of hazards.
Additionally, the UL Listed Mark is used for standalone products and is affixed on the product in an area that is visible to the consumer. In contrast, the UL Recognized Mark is used for components or parts of a finished consumer product and communicates that UL has evaluated such items.
There are different variations of the mark for products used exclusively in the US, and Canada, or for use in both the US and Canada.
UL Classification means that UL has received product samples and has tested them for specific properties. Such products would be tested under specific conditions or tested for a limited range of hazards or technical requirements following UL requirements or standards of other organizations.
The following are some UL Classified products:
- Fire testing equipment
- Home electronics
- Information technology equipment
- Flame resistant clothing
The general requirements for the UL Classified certification are similar to that of the UL Listed certification. However, the difference relates to the testing requirement(s).
The producer seeking the Classified Mark would have their product sample tested for specific, limited conditions. By contrast, the UL Listed products are tested and evaluated for all requirements associated with the product’s application. This means that UL Listed products can safely be used in a range of different environments.
UL Classified Mark
When using the UL Classified Mark, a statement indicating the specific scope of the classification should accompany it. The UL Classified Mark for the US and Canada can be switched to the UL Certified Mark.
UL Recognized Component
UL Recognized items are components or parts of a finished consumer product. Its mark communicates that UL has evaluated such items intended for use in a complete product or system. A UL Recognized component may have restricted performance capabilities that limit its use.
The following are some UL Recognized products:
- Power supplies (Such as AC-DC or DC-DC internal power supplies)
- Electrical components
- Insulation materials
Such products are generally incorporated into larger systems.
The general requirements for the certification are generally similar to the UL Listed and UL Classified marks.
Even though, UL Recognized components are not visible to the end user, such components are covered by the Follow-Up Services program. This is done to ensure continued compliance with UL’s requirements.
Such components do not have a specific user function on their own and are commonly incorporated into larger systems. Testing requirements for the UL Recognized certification tend to be less stringent in comparison to the UL Listed and UL Classified certification.
However, just because the requirements are less stringent, it does not mean that such components are of lower quality. For such components to be incorporated into a larger design, they may have to meet various industry standards.
This may include:
a. Appropriate housing or specified installation for said components
b. Manufacturing procedures that protect the component from damage
UL Recognized Component Mark
Having received the certificate, the UL Recognized Component Mark can be affixed. It is uncommon for a consumer to be able to see the UL Recognized Component Mark as they are typically affixed to component parts that form part of a larger system or product.
The mark can not be switched with the UL Certified Mark.
UL Performance Verified
UL Performance Verification means that UL has received product samples and has tested them against a specific performance standard. Such relevant standards and requirements come from the following sources:
- National or international industry (Such as TIA) performance standards
- Manufacturer’s proprietary (internal) standards
- UL requirements
Using category 8 (CAT8) cables as an example, producers of such cables could opt for the UL Wire & Cable division’s CAT8 testing and verification services to attain the mark.
The producer would have to:
a. Submit product samples to UL labs or third-party labs accepted by UL for testing purposes
b. Ensure that product samples submitted pass the required tests
c. Affix the UL Performance Verified Mark on their product (or change it to the UL Certified Mark)
d. Comply with UL’s Follow-Up Services and Market Surveillance program
Using the CAT8 testing and verification services as an example, such cable products would have to pass the performance test requirements which are based on the following CAT8 standards:
a. ANSI/TIA-568 C.2-1 – Balanced Twisted-Pair Telecommunications Cabling and Components Standard, Addendum 1: Specifications for 100 Next Generation Cabling
b. IEC/ISO 11801 (IEC 61156-9 and -10) for Category 8.1 and 8.2 cable
Testing and verification services for other products would have other standards that the product would have to meet.
UL Performance Verified Mark
A statement indicating the specific scope of the UL Performance Verification should be used in conjunction with the mark. Like the UL Listed Mark and the UL Classified Mark for the US and Canada, the Performance Verified Mark can be switched to the UL Certified Mark.
UL Certified Management System
The management systems service includes audit, certification, and training services for manufacturers to improve their manufacturing systems and processes within their supply chain.
Such management systems services include the following certification programs:
- Retail Certification Program
- National Brand Certification Program
- UL and Natural Products Association Program
- Safe Quality Food Certification
- British Retail Consortium Assessment
A mark is not available for UL certified management systems. However, a promotional badge can be used.
UL Certified Management System Promotional Badge
UL promotional badges are used to promote UL certifications, including manufacturers with UL certified management systems. However, such a badge may never appear on a product as it may not be used to imply that the product is UL certified.
UL Certified Process
UL process certification services assist business operators to mitigate regulatory risks, confirming compliance, and maintaining best practices.
The following are some examples of such certified services:
a. Cable Supply Chain Management Solutions for Utilities, Renewable Integrators, and EPCs
b. IEC/ISO 27001 – Empowering Information Security
UL Certified Process Promotional Badge
The promotional badge is used to promote UL certifications, including UL Certified Process certifications. However, like in the previous section, the badge may never appear on a product as it may never be used to imply that the product is UL certified.
UL Certification for non-US markets
UL provides certification services also for other regions too. However, the markings and labels would change in accordance with said regions.
UL-EU (European Union)
The UL-EU Mark is intended for use on products destined for the European marketplace and is tested against EN standards. The UL Enhanced and Smart Marks are available for products placed in Europe.
Note that the UL mark is less common in the EU compared to North America. This can possibly be explained by the fact that the CE mark is already in place whereas no direct equivalent exists in the United States.
The UL-JP Mark is typically found on products destined for the Japanese marketplace. The mark communicates that the product is in line with Japanese standards. Additionally, UL Enhanced and Smart Marks are available for products placed in Japan.
UL MX NOM (Mexico)
The UL MX NOM Mark found on a product communicates that the product complies with requirements contained in the Official Mexican Standards.
UL GS (Germany)
The UL GS Mark is typically found on products placed in Germany. Such products are tested in accordance with harmonized EU standards. The mark is unique in the sense that it is widely recognized both locally and throughout Europe.
UL SNI (Indonesia)
In Indonesia, the SNI Mark, which may come with the UL identifier for Indonesia, communicates that the product complies with Indonesian National Standards. Products bearing such marks may be sold anywhere within the region.
D Mark is certified to European safety standards including the Danish National Differences.
The UL of Canada issues the ULC Mark for products in Canada. Products bearing such a mark communicate that it has met Canadian standards.
This table contains a list of all the UL certification services and
|UL Certified||Is applicable to multiple markets||UL Standards||UL Certified Mark|
|UL Listed||US, Canada||UL Standards||UL Listed Mark with three variations: US only, Canadian only, US and Canada
The UL Enhanced and Smart Mark is available
|UL Classified||US, Canada||UL Standards||UL Classified Mark with three variations: US only, Canadian only, US and Canada
The UL Enhanced and Smart Mark is available
|UL Recognized Component||US, Canada||UL Standards||Component Recognition Mark with three variations: US only, Canadian only, US and Canada|
|UL Performance Verified||Is applicable to multiple markets||Industry Performance standards, manufacturer’s proprietary (internal) standards, and UL requirements||The UL Enhanced and Smart Mark is available in addition to the UL Verified Mark|
|UL Certified Management System||Is applicable to multiple markets||Depends on the certified program||Only a promotional badge is available|
|UL Certified Process||Is applicable to multiple markets||Depends on the certified program||Only a promotional badge is available|
|UL-EU||European Union||UL-EU Mark service requirements based on EU standards||The UL Enhanced and Smart Mark is available in addition to the UL-EU Mark|
|UL-JP||Japan||UL-JP Mark service requirements based on Japanese standards||The UL Enhanced and Smart Mark is available in addition to the UL-JP Mark|
|UL MX NOM||Mexico||Official Mexican Standards||UL-MX NOM Marks|
|UL GS||Germany||Harmonized EU standards||UL GS Mark|
|UL SNI||Indonesia||Indonesian National Standards||SNI Mark or SNI Mark with the UL Identifier|
|D||Denmark||EU standards with Danish National differences||D Mark|
|ULC||Canada||Canadian standards||ULC Mark|
Does Amazon require UL certification?
Business operators selling their products through the Amazon platform would have to comply with Amazon’s product safety requirements (if any) in addition to complying with all applicable federal, state, and local laws. For some products, Amazon requires sellers to meet certain UL standards and, in some cases, attain certain UL certifications.
For instance, for electronic mobility (e-mobility) devices like e-scooters and hoverboards, Amazon requires such products to meet one of three standards:
- UL 1642 (Lithium-Ion Battery Testing, Certification, and Validation)
- UL 2054 (Standard for Household and Commercial Batteries)
- IEC/UL/CSA 62133-2 (Lithium-Ion Battery Testing, Certification, and Validation)
How much does UL certification cost?
The cost to get UL certification(s) for your product depends on the product type and applicable standards against which the product should be evaluated, and what additional services you would require from UL.
UL provides services that include:
- Advisory services
- Auditing and inspection
- Digital applications (e.g. Product IQ, etc)
Services required and the price quote that follows are dependent on the manufacturer’s situation such as:
- Availability of product samples
- Project timelines
- The scope of testing needed for the product