A few months ago, the Ministry of Consumer Affairs of my country, Spain, published a recommendation that I found quite interesting to share on my LinkedIn profile: Do you know the difference between CE marking and China Export marking?
I never thought that something so simple and so integrated in our daily lives could generate almost 47,000 views and a cascade of adjacent comments of concern with particular cases of misfortunes experienced by importers and exporters in first person. Hence, the need to return to the subject, delving a little deeper into this problematic issue, which should be mandatory knowledge for logistics professionals and any consumer member of Europe.
The visual differences between these markings are minimal, the letters have the same shape, but the spacing between them is different. The "China Export" symbol brings the two letters closer together, reducing the space between them in the "CE" labeling symbol, which stands for 'Conformité Européenne', i.e. European Conformity.
The possible confusion between these two markings is due to the fact that they have almost identical logos. However, their meaning is completely opposite in terms of quality and safety, as well as legal liability.
Since 2006, there have been products that, in order to be marketed in Europe, must bear the "CE" symbol. This marking indicates that the manufacturer assures that the product has been evaluated and complies with safety, health and environmental protection requirements, benefiting also, and this is the crux of the matter, from one of the main premises of the European Union, the free circulation in the European market.
Important: not all articles are necessarily obliged to carry this labeling. In this sense, the following are obliged to carry it:
- Children's products, toys, plasticine, finger paints, etc.
- Personal protective equipment (sunglasses, neoprene suits, life jackets, professional gloves, helmets, etc...).
- All household appliances, electrical appliances, machinery and do-it-yourself equipment, computer products, etc. In other words, industrial products (although not all) and electrical products in general.
- Laser products due to electromagnetic compatibility.
On the other hand, they are not obliged to carry it:
- Vehicles and accessories, which are subject to approval procedures and do not require CE marking.
- Electrical adapters (plugs and sockets...), which, as the Low Voltage Directive does not apply to them, are not required to carry it.
- Products that do not pose a safety risk, such as textiles, furniture, etc.
On the other side, the "China Export" marking indicates that the product has been manufactured in China, and that it is being introduced into Europe without the need to comply with its regulations. This symbol does not ensure that the product has undergone any risk or safety assessment in accordance with European Union legislation.
But what is really behind the CE marking and China Export?
When a consumer chooses to buy an article or product with the "CE" marking on a product, we are usually reassured. When we see it and opt for it, we think that what we are going to buy has passed all the necessary controls. However, this is not the case.
The "CE" mark is placed by the manufacturer under his sole responsibility and does not imply any guarantee. It strictly indicates that the supplier testifies that its product is safe and complies with the essential requirements of current and applicable European Union legislation. But there is no analysis or evidence to support this. The only thing that supports this is the manufacturer's responsibility. If, after an analysis, it is proven that these products do not comply with European regulations, this supplier could be sanctioned.
Please be very careful when choosing the purchase and consumption of these products. You know how to get it right.