Beware of Fake Certificates When Importing from China

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Are you Really Safe with Certifications from China?

If you’re a small brand, or don’t manufacture your own products, the authorities expect you to be liable for all aspects of your products safety. It can be estimated that around 30% of all product safety certificates coming out of China are fake. Sure, a fake certificate could get your goods through customs, but they won’t be of much help later on.

Before ever accepting a factories word for telling you a product is certified, always ask to see the certificate. But be forewarned, just because a factory sends you a certificate, does not mean the products you are importing are considered ‘certified’.

Factories are known to cut corners and save money on every production they run. A certification, especially on sensitive products such as toys, chemicals or electronics does not mean all of your products have passed. Factories who do not control their production process could do one production run and send samples to a testing laboratory, only to run the next production with completely different quality standards.

While it is always wise to require testing be done by well known laboratories, a certification from one of those companies does not guarantee the the product passes.

Here are a list of possibilities to watch out for:

  • A Chinese manufacturer who keeps changing the production process
  • Fabricated certificates – certificates created by lab employees within one of the major testing companies
  • Fake certificates
  • Unknown testing companies

Manufacturers who continuously change their production processes may be difficult to spot if you’re unable to oversee the production. When dealing with sensitive products, it is always best to have some form of a safety net to ensure all productions stay at the same required standards. Inspection companies offer various services to assist with this if you’re unable to have your own team in China.

Fabricated certificates are incredibly difficult to spot. A lab employee could enter the certification into their company’s system, all checks would show it to be a real certification, but the test was never done. When in doubt, use multiple laboratories.

Fake certificates often come in the form of .jpeg, .png, .doc or scanned documents. A real certificate will always be issued as a .PDF file. If you are ever unsure of the legitimacy of a certificate, you can always contact the testing company to verify. Some companies allow you to search through their online database for verification. Below is a list of popular company databases.

Intertek: http://www.intertek.com/business-assurance/certificate-validation/

Rheinland: http://www.certipedia.com/search/companies_with_certified_products

SGS: http://www.sgs.com/en/Our-Company/Certified-Client-Directories/Overview.aspx

TUV: http://www.tuv-sud-america.com/us-en/resource-center/customer-support/certificate-finder/tuev-sued-client-database

VDE: http://www.vde.com/en/institute/onlineservice/vde-approved-products/pages/online-search.aspx

If you’re ever unsure about a testing laboratory, you can always Google their name and see if they are ISO 17025 certified. You can also take a closer look and determine if their testing scope includes the product you had tested.  
The most important thing for all importers to understand is, YOU are always responsible. A factories job is to get you the products, but anything that happens after that is on you. Use your due diligence and take the time to ensure all safety requirements are covered so you are at less of a risk.  

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