While manufacturers are responsible for ensuring product compliance and affixing the CE marking, importers (and distributors) also play an important role in making sure that only products which comply with the legislation and bear the CE marking are placed on the market. Not only does this help to reinforce the EU’s health, safety and environmental protection requirements, it also supports fair competition with all players being held accountable to the same rules.
When goods are produced in third countries and the manufacturer is not represented in the EEA, importers must make sure that the products they place on the market comply with the applicable requirements and do not present a risk to the European public. The importer has to verify that the manufacturer outside the EU has taken the necessary steps and that the documentation is available upon request.
Thus, they must have an overall knowledge of the respective directives and are obliged to support national authorities should problems arise. Importers should have a written assurance from the manufacturer that they will have access to the necessary documentation - such as the EC Declaration of Conformity and the technical documentation – and be able to provide it to national authorities, if requested. Importers should also make sure that contact with the manufacturer can always be established.
If importers (or distributors) market the products under their own names, they then take over the manufacturer’s responsibilities. In this case they must have sufficient information on the design and production of the product, as they will be assuming the legal responsibility when affixing the CE marking.
Not all products sold in the EU need to bear CE marking. CE marking applies to products, ranging from electrical equipment to toys and from civil explosives to medical devices. Such products fall under one or more Directives which determine the specific requirements that the product must meet in order to be CE marked. See the full list of these product categories.