Compliance & Conformity

What is a Certificate of Conformity?

A Certificate of Conformity or inspection certificate states that goods comply with standards laid down by the destination country’s authorities in terms of (for example) physical condition, quantity, and technical specification. The goods must be inspected, before shipment, usually at the exporter’s premises, by an appointed inspection body. The exporter must pay for this service, and so should ensure that the cost is allowed for in quotations.

What is a Certificate of Free Sale and who issues these certificates?

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 Business, Innovation & Skills (BIS) can provide a Certificate of Free Sale (CFS) provided the product is not regulated by another government department. Other government departments that issue CFS or equivalent documents include the Department of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA), the Department of Health (DH) and the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).
They are issued free of charge to bona fide UK exporters. A CFS will normally only be issued by BIS 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. Health certificates, issued by the Department of Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA), are required for all shipments of agricultural or fresh meat products. Phytosanitary and plant certificates, also issued by DEFRA, are required for exports of planting materials, trees and shrubs, and for certain raw fruits and vegetables.

Do I need a Certificate of Conformity/Certificate of Free Sale?

For some destination countries, a Certificate of Conformity is a legal requirement. In other cases, a Certificate of Conformity is a condition for payment specified in the terms of the Letter of Credit. In countries where a Certificate of Conformity is required, if a shipment does not have one, it is likely to be impounded.
A certificate of Free Sale is a document confirming that the goods in question are freely sold in the country of origin and may be required to allow your products to be freely sold in a new overseas market.

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