Importing Electronics Into the USA

There are four important issues to consider when you’re sourcing or importing electronics from overseas into the US. These are

  • Safety Standards compliance
  • Labeling requirements
  • Documentary requirements
  • Lab testing requirements

Safety standards are generally documented agreements established by consensus of industry experts, in certain cases approved by recognized bodies and sometimes adopted by the federal government or the states in their regulatory framework. As an example, California Proposition 65 has restricted more than 800 substances. Other states may have established mandatory electrical characteristics such as relating to safety, energy efficiency and power consumption.

Standards are specific to the use of the electronic product and its functions. For example commercial information technology equipment (ITE) are subject to the generic standards IEC60950. Medical equipment may be subject to more stringent standards based on the IEC60601-1 series. Then, the EMI conducted and radiated out of the ITE is regulated by EN55022. Emissions from commercial electronics are defined by Subparts A and B of FCC 47 CFR Part 15. There are a number of recognized testing labs that certify compliance.

Next comes labeling requirements, including country of origin marking. Documentary requirements mandate that information such as circuit diagrams, components lists and design drawings should accompany the product in the packaging.

Three types of electronic products in particular attract regulatory oversight: radio frequency emitters, radiation emitting equipment and children’s electronic toys.

The regulatory body overseeing electronic products emitting radio frequency is the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). Both intentional radiaters (such as cell phones and blue tooth sets) as well as unintentional radiaters (most consumer electronics containing computer chips) are subject to one of three types of controls. Depending on the product these are:

  • Certification by accredited 3rd party testing lab and /or by the FCC
  • Verification which is a self-issued certification
  • Declaration of conformity ie in-house testing plus submission of sample for further testing by an accredited 3rd party testing lab.

The FDA requires importers of radiation emitting electronic such as X-ray machines, microwaves and laser equipment to issue the manufacturer’s own certificate of compliance and for the importer to maintain records and submit reports prior to importation and sale to the US market.

Children’s’ electronic toys are governed by the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) and must carry a “tracking label”. In California, if the product does not comply with Proposition 65, it must also carry a warning label.

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