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September 18, 2023
Navigating Mexico, U.S., and Canada Safety Certification: Ensuring Compliance and Market Access
In today's global market, product safety and regulatory compliance are paramount. Certification is essential for businesses that want to sell their products in Mexico, the United States, and Canada. It ensures that products meet safety standards and comply with regulatory requirements, building consumer trust and opening doors to new markets. In this blog, we will explore the significance of safety certifications and provide an overview of product Certification in Mexico, the United States, and Canada.
Understanding NOM Certification for Mexico
NOM certification is critical for businesses that want to sell their products in Mexico. It is a Certification issued by a Certification Body that has been approved by the Mexican government via its corresponding Standardization Authority to ensure that products meet the necessary safety standards set forth by the country.
NOM certification signifies that a product has undergone thorough testing and meets the specific requirements established by Mexican regulatory authorities. It proves that a product is compliant with the country's standards, regulations, and norms.
In Mexico, NOM certification is essential for selling products in specific industries. The country's regulatory framework for NOM certification is comprehensive and encompasses various sectors and product categories. These standards apply to various industries, including electrical and electronic equipment, automotive products, telecommunications devices, medical devices, toys, and construction materials. NOM certification is not just an option for companies aiming to enter the Mexican market but is often mandatory. Without this certification, businesses may face restrictions or even prohibitions on importing or distributing their products in the country.
However, by obtaining NOM certification, companies can ensure smoother market access and expand their customer base in Mexico. The NOM mark on a product conveys a company's dedication to delivering safe goods. This distinction appeals to discerning consumers prioritizing product safety and compliance, potentially driving more sales and market share for certified companies. Conversely, non-compliance with NOM standards and the absence of NOM certification can lead to legal consequences. Businesses may face fines, product recalls, and products held at Customs if found in violation of the regulations.
The NOM certification process may seem difficult to navigate. However, there are several steps that businesses can take to make the process easier.
The first step is to identify the specific NOM standards that apply to the products you want to sell in Mexico. For this step, it is important that you work with a qualified Customs Broker, who will help identify Mexico’s HS Code for your product. An HS code for Mexico will normally be an 8-digit code, sometimes accompanied by 2 additional digits, known as a “NICO” code. The NICO code is used to further identify the product. The first 8 digits of the HS code are imperative since it is used to find the applicable Standard in the infamous “Annex 2.4.1” published by the Mexican Secretary of Economy. A common example of an HS code for Mexico is “8517.62.17”. The Customs Broker will normally advise on the applicable Standard. However, if you already have an HS code suitable for the Mexican market, you can perform a search in Annex 2.4.1 in the form (XXX.XX.XX), where X is the first 8 digits of the HS code. If your product is subject to NOMs per the Annex, you will find the NOM standard in the far-right column.
It is important to highlight that even if the HS code is in Annex 2.4.1, the NOM Standard may not be applicable, or there may be several applicable NOMs. This is why it is important to work with your Customs broker and Certification Body as needed. If the product is not subject to any NOM per Annex 2.4.1, but you wish to obtain a NOM certification for commercialization purposes or on a volunteer basis, it is recommended to work with the Certification Body to find the most suitable NOM Standard for your product. Once you have identified the applicable NOM standards, you must have your products tested by an approved laboratory. Testing must be done “in-country” or in other countries via an approved Mutual Recognition Arrangement (MRA). The specific countries will be specified within the particular MRA. Once your products have passed testing, you can apply for NOM certification from a Certification Body that has been approved by the Mexican government. With testing completed and all other documentation in order, the Certification process typically takes one to two weeks, depending on the Certification Body.
Certification in the United States (NRTL)
OSHA (the Occupational Safety and Health Administration) requires all electrical products installed in the workplace to be Listed/Certified by a Nationally Recognized Testing Laboratory (NRTL) or otherwise approved for use. Products for use outside the workplace may be regulated in other ways, for example, by local government or by the market (retailers).
Product Certification, sometimes referred to as “Listing” or “NRTL Certification” in the USA, is carried out by independent testing laboratories that have been approved as an NRTL by OSHA. The purpose of product Certification via an NRTL is to verify that products meet specific Safety Standards designated for use in the United States. It signifies that the product has undergone rigorous testing, evaluation, and compliance verification processes, ensuring its adherence to essential safety requirements for use in the United States.
A product can be determined as being certified through the presence of an NRTL certification mark on the product itself. Employers, consumers, and regulatory authorities alike can also refer to the public database published by the corresponding NRTL to confirm the Listing of certified products. Ongoing product surveillance is required to further ensure continued compliance, fostering workplace safety and consumer confidence throughout the US market.
Certification in Canada
Canada’s Provincial, territorial, and Municipal Governments mandate certification via Standards Council of Canada (SCC) accredited certification bodies to seek to protect the public through compliance with applicable Canadian standards and codes. Canadian regulations cover most electrical products used in Canada, therefore, achieving certification to applicable Canadian Standards is necessary for tapping into the Canadian market. Product Certification by an SCC accredited Certification Organization, identified through the application of the certification mark of the Certification Organization, confirms that a product has undergone meticulous testing, evaluation, and compliance checks, ensuring its suitability for the Canadian market.
The standards acceptable for the certification of electrical products are referenced from the Canadian Electrical Code. Legislation across the various jurisdictions in Canada then adopts the code as the basis for their regulations. Each jurisdiction may amend the code due to specific needs, but all refer to Canadian National Standards or other approved documents as the technical basis for compliance.
Canadian standards are developed by accredited Standards Development Organizations as voluntary documents, but once published and referenced from legislation become mandatory. As standards development is an international activity, there is much collaboration between countries, especially between the United States and Canada, due to the similarities in electrical systems. With this in mind, achieving Canadian and US certification is not always double the effort depending on the product category.
The Benefits of Partnering with Nemko
Nemko is a leading testing, inspection, and certification (TIC) provider that offers comprehensive certification services to ensure market access in Mexico, the United States, and Canada. By partnering with Nemko, businesses can enjoy many benefits, including:
- Access to a global network of accredited laboratories and experts: Nemko has a worldwide network of accredited laboratories and experts strategically located across different regions. This network allows businesses to leverage Nemko's international presence and benefit from its extensive testing and certification capabilities. In addition, Nemko holds an MRA, under select NOM Standards, that has been approved by the Mexican Standardization Authority, “Dirección General de Normas” (DGN), and this MRA can be leveraged for Mexico NOM Certification. This reduces or eliminates the need to conduct additional tests and the need for in-country testing. With local experts well-versed in each market's specific requirements and regulations, Nemko provides businesses with efficient and accurate certification services.
- Streamlined certification processes and reduced time to market: Partnering with Nemko streamlines the certification processes, helping businesses reduce the time to market. Nemko's in-depth knowledge of the regulatory frameworks in Mexico, the United States, and Canada allows them to efficiently guide companies through the certification journey. Their expertise helps businesses navigate complex requirements, ensure compliance, and expedite the certification process, enabling faster access to target markets.
- Expert guidance and support throughout the certification journey: One of the key benefits of working with Nemko is the expert guidance and support they provide throughout the certification journey. Nemko's experienced team understands the intricacies of the certification processes in Mexico, the United States, and Canada. They offer comprehensive support, from initial assessments and documentation preparation to testing, compliance verification, and final certification. Businesses can rely on Nemko's expertise to navigate regulatory complexities, address challenges, and achieve successful certification outcomes.
- Ensuring product safety, compliance, and consumer confidence: By partnering with Nemko, businesses can ensure the safety and compliance of their products, instilling confidence in consumers. Nemko's rigorous testing and compliance verification processes verify that products meet the necessary safety standards and regulatory requirements. Obtaining certifications from Nemko demonstrates a commitment to delivering safe, high-quality products to the market, enhancing brand reputation and consumer trust.
Tags: International Approval
Certification Manager and Product Safety Engineer with over 20 years of experience working at Certification Body Testing Laboratory (CBTL) and Nationally Recognized Testing Laboratory (NRTL). Certifier of Medical Equipment, Household Equipment, Audio and Video Equipment and Information Technology Equipment.