Product certification in the Customs Union

For imports into the Customs Union, almost all kinds of products need to be tested and certified. Current certification legislation is based on the Technical Regulations of the Customs Union. The technical regulations are definitions of standards which describe the characteristics of different products and their production processes in terms of quality, security, technical characteristics, etc.

The new legislation was established to replace the old “GOST standard”, which no longer reflected the requirements of modern production and industry, since product certification had become, to a certain extent, a business in which the main concepts of security and quality had disappeared. In the first decade of the 2000s, Russia, Belarus, and Kazakhstan started implementing new standards (the Technical Regulations), which involve minimum requirements in terms of health and safety, security of property, protection of the environment, energy efficiency, etc.

However, at that time, the Technical Regulations were only national standards, with conformity documents being valid only in the country in which they had been issued.

With the introduction of the Customs Union of Russia, Belarus, Ukraine, and Kazakhstan, a unified product certification system became necessary, and in 2010 the three countries decided to introduce the Technical Regulations of the Customs Union (abbreviated as “TR TS” or “TR CU”).

The task of establishing the Technical Regulations, as well as coordinating and controlling the related procedures, was assigned to the Commission of the Customs Union. Within the  Technical Regulations of the Customs Union, the Commission established a unified list of products that were required to conform to the Technical Regulations.

From January 2012, the new Technical Regulations of the Customs Union were introduced step by step, and the respective national standards became invalid. For example, on February 15, 2013, when the Technical Regulation on the security of lifts (elevators) came into effect, the national standards in this field expired.

The scheme developed by the Customs Union has introduced 58 regulations to date, of which 35 have already come into effect and 23 others are awaiting approval.

For goods which have been proven compliant with the Technical Regulations, one of the following documents is issued:

  • a conformity declaration
  • a conformity certificate

The type of product, its customs tariff number, and the field of use determines which of the two is to be issued. Both documents may be issued for:

  • a specific delivery (with indication of the invoice and delivery contract number)
  • serial production (with a validity of one, three, or five years)

In either case, the applicant needs to provide certain documents assessing the goods’ compliance with security standards, such as technical data sheets, construction plans, and instructions of use.

Additionally, the manufacturer needs to provide samples for the testing protocol, on which conformity documents are issued. In some cases, particularly when obtaining conformity certificates for serial production, an audit of the production site is necessary.

One of the new aspects, and probably the most widely discussed, is the application process for conformity certificates and declarations. The applicant for a TR TS document needs to be a legal entity of one of the countries of the Customs Union, since the certification process and the security of the product itself is the responsibility of the applicant. For this reason, the manufacturer and applicant need to conclude a contract on the representative function of the applicant for certification purposes.

Besides the most common conformity declarations and conformity certificates, there are dozens of other types of product registrations, licenses and, authorizations. Examples include the ‘State Registration’, formerly known as the Sanitary Certificate (which is issued for food or cosmetic products), the metrological certificate for measurement devices, and the registration required for medical devices, to name a few.

The certification system in Ukraine governs almost all kinds of products which need to be tested and certified. The technical regulations are definitions of standards which describe characteristics and properties of product and production processes in terms of quality, security, technical characteristics, etc.

The system is designed to conduct mandatory and voluntary certification of products, processes, and services. Certification of compliance with regulatory requirements is carried out exclusively in the system. Certification bodies in the system can be accredited organizations and state-owned enterprises. If the system has several accredited certification bodies for the same product, the applicant has the right to certify products in any of them. Certified production systems are issued a certificate of compliance and are marked in compliance.

The procedure for certifying products generally contains:

  • filing and consideration of the application for certification
  • analysis of submitted documentation
  • a decision on the application indicating the certification model
  • inspection of production
  • certification of production provided by the certification model
  • selection and identification of product samples and testing
  • analysis of the results and decisiom whether a certificate of conformity and the license may be issued
  • the issuance of the certificate of conformity, the granting of licenses, and introduction of certified products in the system registry
  • recognition of the certificate of conformity issued by a foreign authority
  • technical supervision of certified products within the process of its manufacturing
  • information on the results of certification work

The certification model on product delivery should be determined by the certification agency in consultation with the applicant to start work on certification. Selection of the certification model depends on the type of product, the quantity, and other production state baseline data. Once the test results in an accredited laboratory are completed, appropriate certificates can be issued.

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  • Product certification