With consumers’ increasing awareness of product safety, more and more people have begun to pay attention to various product safety certifications.

The market, including e-commerce platforms such as Amazon, has also put forward new demands for product safety certification.

In this article, we will discuss one of the most widely recognized safety certifications-UL certification.

Whether you are selling online or offline, the UL certification mark will make your products more popular.

What is UL certification?

UL is the abbreviation of Underwriter Laboratories Inc.. The UL Safety Testing Institute is the most authoritative in the United States and the largest private organization engaged in safety testing and appraisal in the world.

UL certification is a non-compulsory certification in the United States. It is mainly testing and certification of product safety performance, with the purpose of obtaining products with a considerable safety level for the market.

Do you need UL certification to sell USA?

Yes, UL certification is a non-compulsory certification, but it is more recognized in the US market than FCC certification. So if you want your products to sell well, UL certification is very important.

When consumers and purchasing units purchase products, they are more inclined to choose products with UL certification marks.

For finished products, the UL certification recognized countries are Canada and the United States, and the UL certification of components and materials is recognized by most countries.

In addition, Amazon also requires sellers of certain electronic products to submit UL test reports for their listed products. We can see that as a non-mandatory product safety certification, UL certification is becoming more and more mandatory.

The U.S. government has issued relatively strict product safety requirements for domestically produced products a long time ago. Although there was a time when products imported into the United States through Amazon were not subject to such strict supervision.

In July 2016, an American buyer bought a laptop battery from Amazon. In late September, when she put a laptop with batteries purchased from Amazon on her daughter’s bed, it suddenly caught fire and burned down the entire house.

Because the battery is manufactured outside the United States, the manufacturer is not within the jurisdiction, therefore, the buyer requires Amazon to be responsible for this product safety issue. The buyer filed a lawsuit in the New Jersey Superior Court on March 8, 2017, and sued Amazon in Federal Court on April 21, 2017.

In the end, the court ruled that Amazon should not be regarded as the seller of this transaction, should not bear full responsibility, and the buyer’s losses have nowhere to sue.

After experiencing enough similar cases, on September 24, 2017, relevant departments in the United States issued a law specifically for e-commerce, requiring Amazon to be obliged to notify overseas e-commerce vendors selling on the Amazon platform to provide relevant safety reports.

Before submitting the UL standard test report, Amazon must order the merchant to stop selling.

Some UL standards and test contents of common Amazon products:

  • Power adapter UL62368-1 test report
  • Battery UL 2054 test report;
  • Mobile power UL 2056 test report
  • Lamps UL 153, UL 1598, UL 8800 and other test reports
  • Batteries UL1642 test report
  • UL 2089 Car Charger UL Test Report

UL certification and UL testing

UL testing is different from UL certification. In terms of Amazon product listings, UL testing is often a more cost-effective option than UL certification.

  • UL certification requires testing products and auditing factories, which are audited every quarter, which costs a long time.
  • The UL test report is a qualified test report issued after the product is tested according to the corresponding UL standard.

The procedure for obtaining a UL test report is simpler and clearer:

  1. Submit product related information
  2. UL agency accepts your application
  3. Send product samples to UL laboratory
  4. UL issues a test report according to the corresponding UL standard

UL test report fee:

The specific cost depends on the specific product function. The test items of different products are different, so the cost is also different. Compared with UL certification, the UL test report does not require factory inspection, so no subsequent maintenance costs are required.

Handling UL test report cycle:

Generally 5-7 working days, if the test fails, samples need to be retested. Time accumulation.

Validity period of UL test report:

As long as the U.S. UL test standards used are not updated, the UL test report is valid for a long time.

How do I get UL certification?

The applicant submits an application to UL company or agent:

Applicants need to provide the following information.

  • Company name and address;
  • Instructions for use, including product description, detailed usage introduction, electrical ratings, etc.;
  • The list of components and materials of the product, and the UL certification number obtained;
  • Diagrams that can illustrate electrical or electronic circuits;
  • Materials or parts that may be replaced in the future.

UL informs applicant of the estimated time and cost required for certification

After receiving the application information, UL will determine the UL standards they will apply to the product and the required cost, time and samples. Then, they will send applicant the official application form and follow-up service agreement.

The upper limit of the test fee determined according to the maximum workload of the project will be indicated in the application form. Without applicant company’s written authorization, UL must not exceed the cost limit.

Below we will introduce more specific details about the costs that may occur during the UL certification process.

Applicant arrange payment, send application form and samples

The applicant signs the application form and tracking service agreement, and sends it back to UL company, and sends samples at the same time.

Product testing

After receiving the application form, remittance, and experimental samples signed by the company, UL will notify applicant of the completion of the test cycle.

Product testing can be carried out in UL laboratories in the United States, and UL can also accept test data from audited third-party testing agencies.

The applicant is authorized to use the UL mark

UL contacts the production factory for the first factory inspection (Initial Production Inspection.IPI).

The inspector checks the conditions of the products and their parts in the production line and warehouse inventory to confirm whether the product structure and parts are consistent with the tracking service rules. If required by the rules, the inspector will also conduct witness experiments.

When the inspection results meet the requirements, the applicant is authorized to use the UL mark.

If the product test results cannot meet the UL standard requirements, UL will notify the applicant to explain the existing problems. After the applicant improves the product design, the product can be re-inspected. (Need to pay the test fee again)

In addition, applicant also need to pay attention to the issue of factory inspections. UL will intermittently conduct audits to ensure that manufacturers of certified products follow all relevant guidelines and always comply with UL standards.

How do I know if the supplier can produce UL certified products?

From the above UL certification process, we can see that only companies with certain R&D or production capabilities can obtain UL certification.

But most of the merchants are not product manufacturers or developers. They import from manufacturers and then sell them. So their best way is to choose a manufacturer that can provide UL certification for their products.

It costs thousands of dollars to tens of thousands of dollars to apply for UL certification, which is not a small expense. If the supplier does not have UL certification for the products you purchase, the supplier will require you to bear the cost of UL certification. Unless, the amount of your order is particularly large.

Therefore, for sellers who are not manufacturers, it is the best choice to purchase from factories with UL certification of related products.

Fortunately, most Chinese manufacturers are familiar with UL standards.

Although many electronics manufacturers can technically comply with UL standards, you should only consider suppliers who have previously manufactured UL-compliant products.

Remember that UL classification is only valid for the specific product SKU submitted for testing. Even UL listed suppliers cannot provide test reports or certificates for every SKU or product.

How to distinguish a fake UL certificate?

After getting the UL certificate or test report provided by the supplier, you need to verify it.

According to SourcingArts’ understanding, there are cases where some suppliers provide fake certificates.

Especially some trading companies, they purchase products from factories and then sell them to customers. If customers require them to provide UL certificates, they can only obtain it from the factory or provide fake certificates.

Providing the factory’s certificate to the customer may result in direct cooperation between the customer and the factory.

Forging UL certification is not easy, but it is not uncommon.

UL once issued a statement about a Chinese lighting manufacturer using a false UL certificate number on its LED tube. If you think that only foreign manufacturers might do this, then a few years ago, a US listed company was arrested for using a valid UL certificate on non-UL qualified products.

To ensure understand the authenticity of the goods you buy, you must be able to correctly identify the correct UL certification.

Check mark

The easiest way to fake a UL certification is as simple as Photoshopping the label onto a product. But, as luck would have it, this is also the easiest way to catch whether or not a product has a legitimate UL certification.

Here is what you need to look for when identifying a proper UL label:

  1. Look for the UL trademark! It will always look like the picture above. Note that the UL is always in a circle, the U slightly above the L.
  2. Right under the UL trademark, the word LISTED or CLASSIFIED will appear in all capital letters.
  3. Under LISTED/CLASSIFIED you will find what the product is. In the case of the graphic above, the UL certificate would be for a “Class 2 Power Supply.”
  4. Most importantly, under the product identity is the control or issue number. The control number is typically four alpha-numeric characters. The issue number is a sequence of 4 to 6 numbers, and is sometimes preceded by two letters or the phrase “Issue No.”
  5. Other markings you may find with the Listing Mark are the UL file number; company name or logo; model, catalog or type designation; or electrical ratings.

Products that meet UL requirements can carry one of many UL marks. You can also check other variants of the UL standard in this way.

Check the Number

If you still suspect a UL certification is fabricated, even after the UL listing mark looks correct, you can verify the authenticity of a UL certification by looking at the certificate number.

The following are the things you should pay attention to when confirming the certification number.

  • Nonexistent UL certificate:

The UL certificate number that goes with a product may not be listed on the UL certifications directory. In this case, the number can be completely false, delisted due to expiration, cancelled, or retracted after not meeting new UL standards.

  • UL certificate mis-application

The UL certificate is valid, but is being used on a non-UL qualified product. This can happen with something as simple as a Type A LED Tube using the certificate of a Type B LED Tube. Always make sure the product number matches the product!

  • Using a component UL certificate for the lamp/fixture

The UL certificate is valid and is related to the product, but not the complete product. In the case of some LED lighting products, the UL certificate of the driver is used in place of the UL certificate of the complete lamp/fixture.

  • Fabricated UL qualified part number

Two products with similar certified UL certificates can be melded into a fake UL certificate for a different product. The fabricated UL certificate can be easy to pass off as valid as it is so close with two other valid products, but don’t let this fool you. If the number isn’t in the directory, it isn’t valid.

How long is a UL certification good for?

Under normal circumstances, as long as the following situations do not occur, the certificate is valid for a long time.

  1. Substantial changes in the product: changes in the specifications, structure and key parameters of the product;
  2. The certification standards have undergone major changes: the testing standards of certified products have undergone major changes;
  3. Failure to comply with the regulations of the issuing authority: The factory did not accept factory inspections or pay fees as required.

Note: For factory inspections about 1-4 times a year, companies need to accept and pay audit fees or file maintenance fees. If the manufacturer is required to send samples for sampling test, the test fee must be paid on time.

How much does UL certification cost?

UL certification costs are mainly composed of two parts: one is the cost of testing in the early stage, and the second is the cost of maintenance in the later stage.

The pre-test fees are mainly charged according to the standard, and the charging standards for different products are also different. Specifically, you need to provide the product for UL evaluation before they can quote for you.

The post-maintenance cost is related to the number and frequency of UL certification audits. UL certification requires four factory audits a year, one in spring, summer, autumn and winter, which is almost 3000 USD, and the minimum file maintenance fee is 1170 USD.

There is also the UL mark fee, so that the maintenance cost in the later period is about 5,000 US dollars. But this is based on the conditions that the previous test passed.

What is the difference between UL certification and FCC certification?

Different test requirements

◆ UL certification is only responsible for testing safety regulations;

◆ FCC certification is responsible for electromagnetic compatibility (EMC) and RF (radio frequency).

Different scope of control products

◆ The scope of FCC certification testing is EMC and RF, and it’s required for all charged products;

◆ UL certification can be applied for products regardless of whether they are powered or not.

Mandatory requirements

◆ FCC certification is a compulsory certification;

◆ UL certification is a non-compulsory certification, but it is more recognized in the US market than FCC certification.

With FCC certification, is it necessary to do UL certification?

In fact, FCC certification is a passport for products to enter the American market. Products can only be sold in the American market if they meet the corresponding FCC certification and with the corresponding logo.

But for the Amazon platform’s policy requirements, certain categories of products need to provide UL certification in addition to FCC certification.

Of course, adding UL certification on the basis of the original FCC certification will undoubtedly be able to further open the US market.

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