Compliance & Conformity

Unsafe and unreliable imported products can result in injury, death or damage to property. This is the reason why most countries around the world have stringent requirements in place to ensure their consumers are protected from sub-standard products and goods. It is your obligation to make sure that you understand the regulations for the country you are exporting to and to obtain the required documentation.

Below we have listed a range of compliance documentation that you may have to obtain and highlighted where you can obtain these documents.


Certificates of Conformity

For some products, exporters need to ensure that their products meet the requirements of the technical regulations and standards set by a regulatory authority in the importing country. This usually requires Conformity assessment to take place that verifies products’ compliance with the requirements of applicable standards and technical regulations. Verification activities, commonly known as Product Conformity Assessment and include such activities as laboratory testing, physical inspection and factory audits are carried out by inspection companies. Once checks have been carried out, conformity of products is evidenced by the issuance of a Certificate of Conformity (CoC), a document that is mandatory for customs clearance.

A Product Conformity Assessment prevents the importation of unsafe, substandard or counterfeit goods; it supports government authorities to enforce the implementation of obligatory legislations established for the protection of consumers’ health and safety and the environment. Product Conformity Assessment also helps trade facilitation and protects the interests of traders:  importers benefit from a faster customs clearance process because verification activities have been completed prior to shipment, and exporters do not take the risk to have their goods rejected at the country of destination because of non-compliance with the requirements

Certificates of Conformity are required for the following countries:


 Inspection Companies

  • SGS UK Ltd, The Old Mill, Harvest Court, Park Road, Shepton Mallet BA4 5BS, tel: 01276 697877, website:
  • Bureau Veritas, 5th Floor, 66 Prescot Street, London E1 8HG, tel: 020 7661 0700, website:
  • Intertek International Ltd, Academy Place, 1–9 Brook Street, Brentwood CM14 5NQ, tel: 01277 223400 website:
  • TÜV Rheinland UK Ltd, 1 Cranmore Drive, Shirley, Solihull, West Midlands, B90 4RZ, tel: 0121 796 9400, website:

Special Rules for certain products

You may need a licence or follow special rules to export restricted goods or to sell certain services abroad. Check the import rules of the country you’re exporting to and if necessary, talk to your importer.

Animals, plants and agricultural products

Medical devices and agricultural machinery

Chemicals, drugs, oil and gas services and waste

Diamonds, arts, luxury goods

Goods that can be used for restraint or repression – goods that could be used for restraint, repression or inhumane treatment

Military goods, services and technology

You must get a licence to:

  • export military goods, or sell military services or technology outside the UK
  • arrange the sale of military goods, services or technology outside the UK
  • arrange the transfer of military goods, services or technology between two countries outside the UK
  • provide classified military information to someone based outside the UK

High-tech goods and services

Some goods, technologies and information that you might not think need a licence may also have military use. These things are called ‘dual use’.

Check if you need a licence if you:

  • export high-tech products like specialist computers, radios and other communications equipment
  • develop software that could be used for information security systems (for example, cryptographic technology)
  • share information, knowledge or skills that could be used to make weapons

Certificates of Free Sale

UK traders, when exporting consumer products to certain markets, are required to provide certification that those products may be lawfully sold in the United Kingdom.

To help exporters meet this requirement the Department for International Trade (DIT) can provide a Certificate of Free Sale (CFS) provided the product is not regulated by another government department. They are issued free of charge to bona fide UK exporters on application to the address given at that end of this guidance.

A CFS will normally only be issued by DIT for cosmetics, toiletries, detergents, approved disinfectants, domestic cleaners, industrial chemicals, chemical raw materials or food handling materials. They may also be issued for other chemical based products provided they do not fall to the responsibility of another government department.

Other government departments that issue CFS or equivalent documents are

  • Department of the Environment,
  • Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA),
  • Department of Health (DH) and
  • Health and Safety Executive (HSE).

For further information and to obtain your Certificate of Free Sale, visit