Companies that regularly import electronics from China or other Asian countries are very well aware of the relevance of any applicable quality standards. Nevertheless, the difficulties when importing these items go beyond this hurdle, because this particular product category requires them to have the corresponding RoHS Certification in order to be sold in Europe.
The RoHS Certificate (RoHS meaning ‘Restriction of Hazardous Substances’) refers to the European Union Directive 2002/95/EU on restrictions of certain dangerous substances in electric and electronic products, which came into force in the European Union in 2006. This standard limits the use of specific substances (mostly heavy metals) in electronics. Among the forbidden substances in the RoHS Directive, we can find lead, mercury, cadmium, hexavalent chromium, polybrominated biphenyl and polybrominated diphenyl ether.
As with any quality standard, when importing a product, we cannot simply assume that it automatically complies with the RoHS Certificate. It is our obligation to make sure this is indeed the case and that the supplier is abiding with this standard and has done everything necessary to make sure the products comply with it.
The European CE Marking = Guaranteeing the RoHS2 Certificate
Like most of the Directives approved by the European Union, the RoHS Certificate has evolved over time. Thanks to these developments, the RoHS 2011/65/EU, also known as RoHS2, come into force in 2011 and can be considered a Directive corresponding to the CE Marking.
In this context, it can be understood that every electronics product we import and that has a valid CE Marking, also complies with the RoHS2 Certification and, as such, may be sold in the European Union without any further limitations.
Nevertheless, it is worthwhile to remember that in some cases, there might be a considerable confusion between the CE Marking of European Conformity and the CE China Export Marking, also represented by its initials CE, even with a strong aesthetical similarity. It is therefore critical for any importer to pay utmost attention that our products have the correct labelling.
Electronics products that need to comply with RoHS2
The easiest way to know which products need to comply with the RoHS2 standard is to consider those items that need to be connected to an electrical current to function correctly.
When the RoHS Directive evolved into RoHS2, the same hazardous substances were included. But additionally, the list was increased substantially in terms of the products that required the RoHS2 Certificate, in order to be sold in Europe, including at this point:
- Medical apparatus
- Automatic dispensers
- Consumer electronics
- Computer and communication products
- Home and kitchen appliances (both small and large)
- Power tools
- Lighting products
- Electronic toys
- Work-out equipment
How to make sure our supplier complies with RoHS?
Quality standards are not necessarily identical in the country of origin as in the country of destination, meaning that we need to be well informed about the standards and the applicable quality requirements in both locations.
Additionally, it is worthwhile to take into account whether we have selected a manufacturer that only makes products for China or other markets, where possibly the required quality certificates are not the same as in the European Union, because in that case the products will not necessarily comply with the EU demands.
In this context, it is always better to ask an external partner to evaluate the products beforehand. The two main ways to do so are to either manufacture a test lot and send it to a laboratory to check them against the required quality standards, or to ask an external company to evaluate and certify the products, but always taking into consideration the import date. This is to avoid that test results applicable to earlier or later dates might not refer to our own import operation.
The RoHS Certificate, even though it is now a part of the overall CE Marking, reminds us of the importance of managing quality control inspections when products are being imported from China or other Asian countries. In this sense, at S3 Group, as sourcing partner, we can handle your entire import process, including quality control inspections, and we can guarantee that the products received in your warehouse will correspond to your expectations, allowing you to increase your competitive advantage in the market.