For the last 17 years, there has not been a single week in which I have not been asked the following:
“How much does CE marking cost?”
It is a very understandable question. I am sure that it is on your mind as well. Before you start the process of getting the CE marking, it is good to have an overview of the costs involved. But most people do not realize how difficult it is to answer this question.
Actually, it is similar as going to a builder, say that you want a six-room house on two acres, and ask to know the costs. That question is simply impossible to answer. There are far too many variables. It is the same with CE marking. There are so many variables that can affect the price you pay. You don’t buy CE marking by the pound.
The price of CE certification can differ greatly from one product to another. I have seen prices range from $ 64 to $ 64,000. The price is often affected by which certification procedure applies to the product, whether the company can do some or all of the conformity assessments themselves, as well as the level of support needed to prepare the required compliance documents, Technical File, users manual and product labeling.
Which certification procedure or procedures applies/apply, is based on the technical specifications of a product, as well as its ‘intended purpose’. Only when these factors are clear, the correct CE directives (yes, a product can be covered by more than one CE directive at the same time), European harmonized standards and certification procedure can be determined.
In many cases the CE directives offer two or more certification procedures that may be used. The costs associated with one or the other procedure can vary, and thus this is one of the aspects to keep in mind.
What do you need to know to get an accurate overview of the costs of CE marking?
You need to clarify the following points:
- Which CE directive or CE directives apply/applies to the product?
- Which standards apply to the product? And do these standards have the status of European harmonized standards or not?
- Which certification procedure or procedures apply/applies?
With this information you can compare quotes from service providers such as test laboratories, certification bodies and consultants and ensure that will provide the same service. (Compare apples to apples!)
But there is more
To determine the costs of CE certification you also should take into account the following aspects:
a. Are you required to involve a 3rd party certification body, or are you allowed to do self-certification?
The biggest myth about CE marking is:
“To get CE marking, products must be tested and certified by a third party certification body”.
This myth has cost a lot of companies a lot of money. In almost 90% of the cases, the CE marking regulations allow products to be self-certified for CE marking. In other words, you can do the CE marking yourself and you are not required to have the product certified by a third party certification body. Obviously, CE marking self-certification can save your company a lot of time and money.
You too can learn to do CE self-certification. For example, with our online guides and courses it is quite easy.
b. Is it possible for you to do in-house testing/inspections, or do you need to subcontract this?
Many of the required test and conformity assessments can be performed by your company. Simply because it is a visual inspection or because it does not require special equipment and test equipment is available (or can be obtained).
c. Do you want to combine CE marking with other (private) certifications/markings (e.g. GS, TUV, NEMKO, DEMKO, SEMKO etc. etc.)?
There are testing and certification bodies that are accredited for various international markings and certification schemes. With one basic test in combination with some targeted additional test, your product can be approved for many markets, and thus you can spread the costs of certification over a bigger number of products.
d. Can you buy CE approved parts or components that will make your own CE marking effort easier?
I can give you a practical example: one of my clients manufacturers a small optical inspection tool (a small car with a video camera) with a RF remote control module. The RF module was purchased from a vendor, and it already was CE approved. And as a result, my client did not have to test his product against the RF standards.
e. Have you thought about the internal company resources you require for the CE marking? Do these have to be included in your budget?
What I mean here is the costs of the persons who will have to dedicate time to the initial CE marking, and afterward to keeping updated with the regulations and standards.
f. Have you taken into consideration that the existing design may not pass the conformity assessments, and that it needs to be modified? How much time and money does it cost us to make design changes? How much does it cost us to do the re-testing?
As you can see there are many things to consider. All aspects mentioned above have an effect on the costs. In most cases you can do a lot yourself, possibly with some guidance and instructions, and thus saving a lot of money. Risk analysis’, the compilation of the Technical File, conformity assessment against essential requirements of the directives and standards, the Declaration of Conformity. These all can be done by you or your colleagues, if you invest a little time in learning how to do it.
The biggest costs in CE certification are inherent to the time that test laboratories, certification bodies and consultants need to spend on your products. I think that by looking at your product, you can already estimate that the time investment for conformity assessment, risk analysis or the compilation alone is at least a full day of work, and likely more. Multiply this with a reasonable hourly fee, and you will conclude that the cost of CE certification easily exceeds $1500. For product testing alone you often need several days to run the required test procedure. I have seen wear and tear tests for construction products that take 1 month!
Surely, you may find laboratories and consultants in the market who claim they can do it for a very low fee. My experience and the experience of my clients with these companies is that the provided services are very cheap as well. Please consider this: the CE marking is about providing evidence that the product complies with the applicable requirements. In the case you have to involve a test laboratory or certification body, it is better to use a well-established, reputable company than a cheap unknown company. Because when your product’s CE compliance is challenged, its acceptance by authorities and your customers depends on the reliability of the (test)certificate and report.
My advice: if you want to save money on CE certification, do as much as you can yourself. Don’t just rely on third parties and consultants. Take control of the process. Often you can perform the conformity assessment yourself. Prepare the Technical File. Carefully prepare your product for compliance testing, if you cannot conduct it yourself. But trust me: you can achieve a lot yourself, if you spend a little time to get familiar with the rules. And if you need some guidance: check out our coaching services, and on-line guides and courses.
Now tell me your story: what are some of the prices you have received? Leave a comment below.
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