General Use Products: Certification and Testing

Manufacturers and importers of general use products (i.e., non-children’s products,) for which consumer product safety rules apply, must certify in a written certificate that their products comply with those applicable rules. The CPSC has provided a model General Certificate of Conformity for use by manufacturers and importers as an example or form.

 

(Manufacturers and importers of children’s products, please see www.cpsc.gov/gettingstarted for more information.)

 

How Do I Identify the Applicable Federal Consumer Product Safety Rules for My Product?

 

Many of the federal consumer product safety rules for which testing and certification are required are listed on the CPSC’s website in CPSC’s table  of regulated products.

 

What Type of Testing is Required?

 

A test of each product or a reasonable testing program is required. See the frequently asked questions for more detail.

 

(Any laboratory—an in-house or an external, third party laboratory—can perform the testing required for non-children’s products. Children’s products must be tested by a CPSC-accepted laboratory. Find out more about the requirements for certifying children’s products.)

 

What Are My Other Responsibilities?

 

Please see our overview of the CPSIA for your additional responsibilities, including the duty to immediately report the following type of information to the CPSC:

 

a defective product that could create a substantial risk of injury to consumers or a product that is otherwise unreasonably hazardous or dangerous for consumers;


 

  • a product that a child (regardless of age) chokes on, such as a marble, small ball, balloon, or small part; and that, as a result of the incident, the child dies, suffers serious injury, ceases breathing for any length of time, or is treated by a medical professional;

 

  • a product that has been listed as a substantial product hazard by Commission action (such as a hairdryer without the appropriate immersion protection); or

 

  • certain types of lawsuits (applies to manufacturers and importers only, subject to the time periods detailed in Section 37 of the CPSA.).

Failure to fully and immediately report this information may lead to substantial civil or criminal penalties.

 

What does it mean to "certify" a general use consumer product?

 

A manufacturer or importer must certify in writing that its general use (i.e., non-children's product) consumer product complies with all applicable consumer product safety rules or similar rules, bans, standards, or regulations under any law enforced by the Commission for that product. To find out if your consumer product is subject to consumer product safety rules or other standards, follow these steps.

 

A manufacturer or importer must issue a General Certificate of Conformity (GCC). The GCC must be based upon the results of a test of each product or a reasonable testing program, as described below.

 

The manufacturer or importer of a consumer product that is subject to consumer product safety rules or other standards is always legally responsible for issuing a GCC, even if a laboratory or another third party provides assistance in drafting the GCC.

 

On what must I base my GCC?

 

The GCC must be based on a test of each product or a reasonable testing program.

 

Does the CPSC have a sample GCC?

 

Yes. The CPSC has provided a model General Certificate of Conformity for use by manufacturers and importers as an example or form.

 

You are not required to, but you may copy the layout and title the document "General Certificate of Conformity" and include the details pertinent to your product; or, if you prefer, you may create your own form, as long as it captures all of the requirements listed in 16 CFR 1110.11. (The model GCC captures all of the 16 CFR 1110.11 requirements.)

Who must issue the GCC?

 

Under the Commission's rule (pdf) on certificates of conformity, the GCC must be issued by the importer for products manufactured overseas. The GCC must be issued by the U.S. manufacturer for products manufactured domestically.

To whom must I provide my GCC?

 

A GCC must "accompany" the applicable product or shipment of products covered by the certificate. If you are a manufacturer or importer, you must "furnish" the GCC to your distributors and retailers. The "accompany" and "furnish" requirements are satisfied if the manufacturer or importer provides its distributors and retailers a reasonable means to access the certificate. You can provide an actual hard copy of the certificate to your distributors and retailers, or you can provide the GCC electronically, such as through a dedicated website URL that is provided on your invoice. (See the answer addressing electronic certificates below.)

 

Additionally, federal law requires you to provide a copy of the GCC to the CPSC and to the Commissioner of Customs, upon request. You may find it helpful to ensure that the website URL for your GCC, if provided electronically, is clearly accessible on your import paperwork to facilitate a speedier entry through U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) facilities. If you are not furnishing your GCC electronically, then you may also choose to print out a hard copy of your GCC and include it in all of your imported shipments to facilitate a speedier entry through CBP facilities.

 

Where must I file the GCC?

 

There is no requirement to file a GCC with the government.

 

As noted above, the certificate must "accompany" the product shipment and be "furnished" to distributors and retailers, and, upon request, to the CPSC and to the Commissioner of Customs.

 

Can electronic certificates, instead of paper certificates, be used?

 

Yes. The Commission has issued a rule (pdf) specifically allowing the use of an electronic certificate, as long as: the Commission has reasonable access to it; it contains all of the information required by section 14 of the CPSA; and it complies with the other requirements of the rule (16 CFR Part 1110).

 

If I post the GCC on the Internet, do I need to change it for each shipment, batch, or lot of the product?

 

If each shipment is materially unchanged from the prior shipment, a single GCC may be acceptable, but the GCC would need to describe the range of products covered by the certificate. For example, a manufacturer could identify products using batch/lot information or other identifying information.

 

What if I sell directly to consumers and do not use retailers or distributors?

 

The law requires manufacturers or importers to issue a GCC that accompanies each product or shipment of products; that the GCC be furnished to retailers and distributors; and that the GCC be provided to the CPSC, upon request. Accordingly, you do not have to provide the certificate to consumers in direct-to-consumer sales.

 

Is a GCC required for each shipment of my product?

 

Yes. The law requires each shipment to be "accompanied" by the required certificate. The requirement applies to imports and products manufactured domestically. Under CPSC regulations, an electronic certificate is "accompanying" a shipment if the certificate is identified by a unique identifier and can be accessed via a World Wide Web URL or other electronic means, provided the URL or other electronic means and the unique identifier are created in advance and are available with the shipment.

 

 

Do I have to sign the GCC?

 

No. You do not have to sign the GCC. The act of issuing the GCC satisfies the new law. Any statement that you issue must be accurate whether it is signed or not.

 

 

Are there penalties for failing to comply with the GCC requirement?

Yes. It is a violation of the CPSA to fail to furnish a GCC, to issue a false certificate of conformity under certain conditions, and to otherwise fail to comply with section 14 of the CPSA. A violation of the CPSA could lead to a civil penalty and possibly criminal penalties and asset forfeiture.

 

Reasonable Testing Program

 

What is a reasonable testing program?

 

At this time, the Commission has not issued a regulation mandating the general requirements for a "reasonable testing program" for all general use (non-children's) consumer products. The staff guidance provided below describing a reasonable testing program suggests best practices for a reasonable testing program, but the guidance is not mandatory.

 

The following list of mandatory standards comprises CPSC regulations that contain the requirements for a reasonable testing program in the particular standard:


16 CFR part 1610Standard for the flammability of clothing textiles

16 CFR part 1203Safety standard for bicycle helmets

16 CFR part 1204Safety standard for omnidirectional citizens band base station antennas

16 CFR part 1205Safety standard for walk-behind power lawn mowers

16 CFR part 1209Safety standard for cellulose insulation

16 CFR part 1210Safety standard for cigarette lighters

16 CFR part 1211Safety standard for automatic residential garage door operators

16 CFR part 1212Safety standard for multipurpose lighters

 

If your product is not listed above and it is subject to another consumer product safety rule or other standard (see the regulated products table ), you may consider the following staff guidance when establishing your company's reasonable testing program.

 

A reasonable testing program should provide a manufacturer or importer with a high degree of assurance that its consumer product complies with the applicable consumer product safety rule or standard.

 

A reasonable testing program should be in writing and should be approved by the senior management of the manufacturer (or importer). In addition, you may wish to consider maintaining your records on file in a manner similar to the recordkeeping requirements that apply to children's products.

 

A reasonable testing program should be based on the considered judgment and reasoning of the manufacturer (or importer) concerning the number, frequency, and methods of tests to be conducted on the products. The reasons should be reasonable assumptions for the industry in which the manufacturer (or importer) operates, including such factors as the nature and length of the manufacturer's relationship with their vendors and suppliers, and for the types of materials and processes used in production, including the potential for variability in those materials or processes. In other words, a product with fewer components and with a lower risk of variability in those components (e.g., a dyed t-shirt) would likely have a very different testing program than a product with many more components and for which those components have a higher risk of variability (e.g., chemical products involving a mixture of hazardous or potentially hazardous or volatile substances.)

 

See the disclaimer below for more information.

 

Do I have to test my general use product at a CPSC-accepted third party laboratory?

 

No. There is no requirement that a manufacturer or importer of general use (non-children's) products use a CPSC-accepted third party laboratory to conduct its testing.

 

A manufacturer or importer may use a CPSC-accepted third party laboratory to test its consumer product to applicable rules and standards. The CPSC has accepted hundreds of laboratories worldwide and has made available a list of these CPSC-accepted third party laboratories. (See information on third party testingfor children's products.)

 

Once I have tested and certified that my consumer products are in compliance with the applicable requirements, how often must I retest and certify?

 

There is no requirement that a manufacturer or importer of general use (non-children's) products periodically retest and certify their products.

 

Generally, however, it is good practice to retest your consumer product whenever there is a material change to the product. For general use products, the CPSC also recommends, but not does require, that you test your product periodically after the initial certification of the product. "Periodic testing" is explained in more detail below.

 

Any material changes, such as changing the paint, metal, fabrics, or other items used to manufacture a product or changing the product's design or manufacturing process, for example, could render the product noncompliant. In that situation, you should retest for compliance to those rules affected by the material change. You may also need to update your GCC.

 

You must ensure that your consumer product complies with the regulatory requirements at all times.

 

Am I required to test every batch (or every shipment) of my general use product?

 

No. However, as noted above, CPSC staff suggests—but does not require—that you consider putting a reasonable testing plan in place that provides you with a high degree of assurance that your product is in compliance with applicable consumer product safety rules.

 

A company may institute controls over incoming materials into its factory, process controls on the manufacturing floor, management controls to minimize variance and risk, and other techniques to have a high degree of assurance about the continued compliance of its goods. Each company will need to analyze its own procedures to determine the appropriate frequency of testing in its reasonable testing plan.

 

You should retest your production batch any time a material change [Hyperlink to section on page] has been made that could impact compliance of the product with any applicable consumer product safety rules or similar rules, bans, standards, or regulations under any law enforced by the Commission for that product. Also, if you are uncertain about whether there have been material changes, then it is likely you will need to test each batch or shipment in order to certify your product properly. This is a decision you need to make with care, considering what you know about the reliability of your supply chain and the manufacturing process.

 

Material Change


What is a material change?

 

A material change is a change that the manufacturer makes to a product's design, to the manufacturing process, or to the source of component parts for the product, which a manufacturer, exercising due care, knows, or should know, could affect the product's ability to comply with the applicable consumer product safety rules or other standards.

 

What should I do if I think that I may have made a material change to my general use (non-children's) product?

 

If you think that you may have made a material change to your general use product, you should retest the product for compliance to the applicable consumer product safety rule or other standard. After the testing, you may need to issue a new GCC, based upon the results of the testing.

 

Should I retest the whole product if there is a material change to only one component part of the product?

 

Not necessarily. Component part testing may be sufficient for a material change to only one component. When there is a material change to a component part of a product that does not affect other component parts, and it does not affect the finished product's ability to comply with other applicable consumer product safety rules, then a manufacturer may issue a new GCC based upon the earlier tests, along with the new test results for the materially changed component part. If, however, a component part is changed that may affect compliance of the finished product, then the whole product may need to be retested.

 

Please see below for more information on component part testing.

 

Periodic Testing


What is periodic testing?

 

Periodic testing is testing that is conducted on products that are in continuing production, after the initial certification of a consumer product.

 

Periodic testing is mandatory for children's products. Periodic testing is not a requirement for general use (non-children's) products, but manufacturers may voluntarily choose to engage in periodic testing. You can learn more about periodic testing as it relates to children's products and consider how you might apply those principles to your general use (non-children's) products.

 

Component Part Testing


If my component part supplier has already tested part of my product or subjected part of my product to a reasonable testing program, can I rely upon that testing or reasonable testing program to issue a GCC for my product?

 

Yes. You may rely on component part testing to satisfy the requirement to have your general use (non-children's) products tested or subjected to a reasonable testing program.

 

The Commission issued a rule on the use of component part testing. Although component part testing is voluntary, those manufacturers that rely on component part testing should follow the component part testing rule, including the exercise of due care. Learn more about component part testing.

 

In order to rely on component part testing from a supplier, at a minimum, the supplier must provide you with copies of the results from their testing or their reasonable testing program, along with a written copy of their reasonable testing program for your records.

 

In addition, the information provided by your supplier must provide you with a high degree of assurance that the supplied component part complies with the applicable consumer product safety rule and that you can, in turn, issue a GCC.

 

Are there any circumstances when I cannot rely on testing done by my component part supplier?

 

Testing of the component part or a reasonable testing program for the component part must be sufficient to certify compliance (in a GCC) of the product to the applicable consumer product safety rule or other standard.

 

In certain situations, a component part test may not be sufficient for a consumer product for which testing in its finished state is part of the consumer product safety rule, e.g., in the case of mattress flammability testing of the final assembled mattress. It is your responsibility—as a manufacturer or importer—to ensure that all required certification testing has been completed before issuing a GCC.