When importing you will need to be mindful of product quality and safety requirements within your target market. Failure to do so can result in costly product recalls, legal issues, and reputational damage.
It is your decision whether you wish to submit samples for compliance testing before or after production, or perhaps even both if you have the budget.
Often regulations will stipulate that you carry out a test on a sample collected from the mass batch of finally produced products.
Carrying out a third party lab test is not always mandatory. It is however the only way to ascertain in complete confidence that the goods comply with all relevant standards and regulations.
1. Select an Accredited Testing Company
It will not be in your best interest to let the supplier select any compliance testing companies for you for obvious reasons. You should research and book the laboratory testing directly with the testing company yourself to ensure that you receive information and results directly without bias.
Your test results and report should:
- Be from an accredited testing company
- Include your company name
- Include full details of the accredited company on the report
2. Create a Testing Plan
Regulations vary. You may be required to submit complete product samples, or just material samples. If there are variations in your product you may be required to submit samples of each variation.
- Is lab testing mandatory for your product in your target market?
- According to which regulations/s should the test be performed?
- What percentage are you required to test? (including variations of colour/materials)
- Are you able to identify any risk factors that could foreseeably affect usage by your buyers?
- Is packaging testing required?
Note: Pre-production samples can be submitted for lab testing. However, a batch sample will give you more certainty as this is what you will be selling in your target market.
3. Booking Online
Ensure that your testing company has at least three weeks of advance notice before your product completion date. They will need to be notified about the incoming batch samples. Upon receipt of your notice they should provide you with the following:
- Quantities they required for sample checking.
- Delivery address and contact person.
- Reference/Booking ID numbers which must be displayed on the incoming batch.
- Summary of suggested lab tests to be carried out and to which regulations they apply.
- Initial quotation. They may not provide a final quotation until batch samples are delivered.
Note: It is not your testing company’s responsibility to assess which standards apply to your product in your chosen jurisdiction. They may offer this service however not always.
Also, testing companies will not generally offer guarantees.
It is therefore essential that you only rely on their assessment as a tick in the box for paperwork where needed and ensure as always that you are constantly keeping up to date with which standards and regulations apply to your product.
4. Sample Collection / Submission
As is generally the case and will be the best way forward for you, the quality inspector will collect the batch samples and submit them directly to the testing company. Do not let the supplier do this for you as there will be a conflict of interest whereby they submit compliant samples (made specifically to pass lab testing).
Also, ensure that they affix the Booking ID / Sample ID on or inside the envelope. Otherwise, the testing company cannot identify the samples.
Ensure that the Reference/Booking ID Numbers are clearly displayed when the samples are sent for checking.
The testing company will be able to give you a final quotation once the samples have been received by them. If and once accepted they will issue you with an invoice which will usually need to be paid before testing commences.
If you do not agree to their quotation for whatever reason this may lead to you having to redirect the samples to another testing agent and may even incur fees from the lab testing location so before you send your product to them be sure that you have checked their terms and conditions.
6. When will I receive my Report?
You should receive the test report within two weeks. They are usually sent via email.
Once passed you can use the document as proof of compliance, this can then be presented to the relevant authorities and customers.
7. Additional Documentation Requirements
Some regulations require a “EU/EC Declaration of Conformity” and may request other technical documentation.
Double check that you have all required compliance and regulation documentation before payment to the supplier and also before your goods are shipped. Otherwise your product may be refused when it reaches its destination.
8. What if the Test Fails?
If the test fails for whatever reason you should immediately contact your supplier and provide them with the report findings.
Do not pay the balance payment until the supplier agrees to rectify the situation and also ensure that they will pay for a re-test once the issue has been rectified.
See you in the next module.