Certification means the issuance of a written General Certificate of Conformity (GCC) in which the manufacturer or importer certifies that its non-children's (general use) 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.)
Who must issue the GCC?
The importer must issue the GCC for products manufactured overseas, and the U.S. manufacturer must issue the GCC for products manufactured domestically. See 16 CFR part 1110.
Certification of non-children's products must be based upon the results of a test of each product or a reasonable testing program.
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.
Which Products Require a GCC?
The list of non-children's (general use) products requiring a certificate is found here.
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.
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
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.)
How do I identify the applicable federal consumer product safety rules or other standards for my product?
Many of the federal consumer product safety rules or other standards for which testing and certification are required are listed on the CPSC's website in the CPSC's table or searchable database of regulated products.
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. Upon request, the GCC must be furnished 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 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. See 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?
It depends. 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.
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.