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COC Certificate – The Ultimate FAQ Guide

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In the following article, we are going to break down the COC certificate. COC or Certificate of Conformity plays a very important role when importing from China. Without having one, in most cases, you could get fined, or even denied your entire shipment of goods. Below we have collected the top 30 most frequently asked questions regarding the function and importance of the COC certificate. This way all of your questions will most likely be answered. When reading through the following article you will also understand how to get and use the certificate correctly. After going through this easy-to-read article you will have a better understanding of this document.

What Is a COC Certificate Exactly?

Before we get into the depths of it all, let’s define what COC means exactly. COC Certificate is also referred to as a Certificate of Conformity or Certificate of Compliance. This means that this document’s function is to prove that the goods in question are up to all the requirements and are cleared beforehand. This certificate can be mandatory for some products. They can also be requested by the shipping company.

Why Do You Need a COC Certificate?

This document is very important. Regardless of where you are shipping from and what your destination might be, they are requested worldwide in most cases. The reason for this is quite simple. There are international standards when it comes to trade. These documents ensure that each shipment will meet them. Three of the most important uses of the document are customs clearance, helpful in speeding up inspection, and lastly, it guarantees safety and quality for the buyers.

How Can You Get a Certificate of Compliance?

Most often, the Chamber of Commerce will provide one for you. They are also the body that will ensure to let you know about the most up-to-date testing methods you can do. This way you have a higher chance of getting the certificate sooner rather than later.

What Is Included In a COC Certificate?

The Certificate of Compliance includes some key points that help the importer among others, to easily see through the shipment and its contents. These points may vary depending on the regions of origin and destination as well as the type of goods of course. Here are some of the key points included in a typical COC Certificate:

  • Products Description
  • Details of Contents
  • Information Regarding Product and Manufacturer Origin
  • Safety Measures
  • Details of Identification
  • Info on Third-Party Laboratory Conducted Tests

Do I Need a Certificate of Conformity When Importing Products From China?

Not necessarily. This certificate is applied to only certain products. It is therefore important to do your research beforehand. Contact the right parties to find out whether you need a COC Certificate.

Who Can Issue a COC Certificate?

This can be done by two parties. It could be either the laboratory that has conducted the testing of your products. Or it could also be done by the manufacturer. 

What Products Typically Need a Certificate of Conformity?

As mentioned before, most products need a certificate. However not all. Here is a list of some of the most common products imported from China that need the certificate:

  • Machinery
  • Construction Products
  • Toys
  • Medical Equipment
  • Explosives 
  • Gas Appliances
  • Energy Products
  • Lifts
  • Radio Equipment
  • Outdoor Equipment
  • Weight Instruments
  • Water Boilers

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What is a Conformity Statement?

A conformity statement is one, which makes a straightforward description regarding the level of compliance or the opposite of that. These are about a given requirement. 

How Many Types of Conformity Statements are There?

When it comes to Conformity Statements, there are 3 main types:

  • Compliance – Often used expressions here can be: Pass, In spec, or In Tolerance
  • Non-compliance – Commonly used phrases here can be: Fail, Out of Spec, Exceeds Limits, or Non-compliance.
  • Indeterminate – Usually, the common expressions are: Not Possible to Determine, Pass/Fail or Undetermined.

How Long is COC Valid?

Normally a Certificate of Compliance can be used up to a decade from the time of the product’s manufacturing date. This is almost always the case. The only way it can be different is if it is especially expressed by the COC certificate.

Is COC Mandatory?

The necessity of COC is almost always the case. Globally speaking there are standards when it comes to trade. This document’s primary function is to ensure a standard level of quality and safety for the importers as well as the end buyers. However, whether you will need one or not will mostly depend on the goods you wish to import. 

What is the Difference Between a Certificate of Compliance and a Certificate of Conformity?

Certificates of Compliance and Certificate of Conformity are sometimes understood to be the same exact documents. However, they are not precisely alike. Compliance means to follow the set of rules and conformity refers to meeting the standards.

How Do You Know the Authenticity of the COC Certificate?

The party making the certificate of conformity is responsible for its authenticity. If you are in doubt, you can always get contact information. This could be for instance to the manufacturer of the goods, who then can address any further questions you might have. 

Is There a Difference Between COA and COC?

In short, yes. A certificate of Analysis or COA is proof that the goods meet the requirements for shipping by providing the specific testing results as well. COC on the other hand confirms that the goods meet the standards in question.

Are There Countries That Don’t Require a COC Certificate?

This is not dependent on countries mostly, but the goods you are importing. In most cases, when you import anything from China, you will be required to have a COC Certificate. Only a few countries are not asking for COC. 

What is a Conformity Statement?

A Conformity Statement is a statement that indicates the level of compliance or lack of it compared to the standards required for shipping the goods in question.

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How is Quality Control Done When Importing From China?

Most things you can think of can be imported from China. Due to the extreme volume and at times, lack of high quality, international measures were introduced. This was done to maintain an average, global standard of products. Here are some of the top steps to take, to be at standard with international requirements:

  • Get a Certificate of Conformity 
  • Buy Your Goods Based on a Contract
  • Have Your Products Inspected
  • Ask What You Need Specifically Products
  • Find the Right Certified Manufacturer
  • Hire Freight Forwarders
  • Hire Third Party Sourcing Agents

Which Other Document Do You Need When Importing from China?

Apart from the COC Certificate, you will need a few other things when importing from China. Below we collected a few of the most important things to obtain before taking your next step. Here are the most important documents to get:

  • Bill of Lading
  • Bill of Entry
  • Commercial Invoice
  • Certificate of Inspection
  • Certificate of Insurance
  • Certificate of Origin
  • Import License
  • Contract of Sales
  • Pro Forma Invoice

Is a Certificate of Conformity the Same As an Inspection Certificate?

In a way, yes. Because as for their functions, both Certificates of Conformity and the Inspection Certificate’s purpose is to ensure the right quality and to uphold standards for importing products

Are There Countries that Don’t Require a COC Certificate?

Yes, but very few. Most countries in the world will require a COC Certificate to ensure a certain quality and that the products in question will meet global standards. This is because some countries have different requirements when it comes to production than others. Certificate of Conformity will therefore be a useful tool in inspiring a standard quality on a global scale.

Which Agencies Issue Certificates of Conformity?

Most governments collaborate with international agencies that issue Certificates of Conformity. Here are the most common agencies to issue the document:

  • SGS
  • Cotecna
  • Intertek

What Happens to Goods Imported Without COC?

All products that are to be shipped to most places in the world must have a COC Certificate. Without having this document the import of the goods will be denied in most cases.

Is Certificate of Conformity Free?

Unfortunately, the Certificate of Conformity is not offered for free. You will have to pay before it is issued for you. This will depend of course on what and how much you will be importing. Be sure therefore to conduct research specifically relating to your business. 

When Does the Buyer Ask the Manufacturer for a COC Certificate?

The buyer may request the manufacturer for a Certificate of Conformity at any given time. However, this is more likely if the products in question are categorized as high-risk products.

How to Prepare Before Submitting Products for COC Certifications?

Before you can receive a Certificate of Conformity you first need to send in a form in which you can ask for a quote. When doing this you should also make sure to see what other documents you might need. After having sent the request you will also receive feedback with standards as well as a fee for this service.

Is COC Certification Mandatory in the USA?

A certificate of Conformity is mandatory in the United States. This is also true for most other countries in the world. The reason being is that there are countries with different levels of regulations. COC aims to bring quality and safety measures up to a common ground when it comes to international standards.

Do you Need COC Certification When Importing From China to Asia?

In short, no. When you are only importing from China to the other parts of Asia it is not necessary unless you are dealing with goods that might be regulated. In cases of trading within the Asian regions, it is your responsibility to know and confirm whether your products are safe to use.

How to Know If Imports From China are COC Certified

Knowing whether the goods you are about to receive are certified is of course very important. The simplest way to get this information is to contact the manufacturer. Most manufacturers are aware of the regulations and that it is custom to ask for the COC Certification at times. Thus they should be of help when asked.

What Happens If a Product is Not COC Certified?

To put it simply, if the goods you order are not COC Certified it means they have not been tested. It is important before you order a shipment to inform yourself about the specific regulations. These are based on both the product you are about to order as well as the region or country into which the expected products will arrive.

Which Other Documentation Will You Need When Importing from China?

When importing from China you will need a few documents. A certificate of Conformity is not the only one that will be needed. When conducting import and or export activities, especially on a  global scale, things tend to get more nuanced.  Here are some of the most important documents and certifications you might need when importing from China:

  • CE Certification
  • CCC Certification
  • CQC Certification
  • UL Certification
  • RED Certification
  • RoHS Certification

 

The above are the most commonly known certifications that can be required of you when importing goods from China. However, it is always important to do research fitting your exact operations. This way you can prepare yourself for the specific requirements that will come with the products you are about to import. 

Conclusion

We hope the above article was of help. When it comes to Certificate of Conformity there is a lot to be aware of. Therefore we picked the top 30 questions that are asked most frequently regarding this certification. Besides, we also covered a few other documents that might be necessary for you. When importing from China it is important to know what certifications and documentation you will need exactly. Depending on where you are located as well as what products you will be importing, these criteria might change. Be sure therefore to always conduct thorough research. 

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