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Generally speaking, countries rely on institutions like Port Health or the National Regulator for Compulsory Specifications (NRCS) to ensure that imported goods entering their borders are of a safe and appropriate standard. Many developing countries don’t have these resources in place. Instead they rely on certification from the supplier that the goods conform to an appropriate and stipulated safety and quality standard.

These certificates of conformity must be issued by an approved regulatory body once the goods have been tested based on requirements set by the country of import. To name some examples, testing may be required to prove that:

  • Dangerous, flammable, or corrosive products are correctly manufactured and packed.
  • The goods are of an industry related safety and quality standard.
  • The goods are of a quality fit for human consumption.
  • The goods are not counterfeit.

A certificate of conformity may be issued based on product testing done by the supplier if adequate and reliable test results are available. If this is not possible the regulator must oversee testing. In either case, a shipment inspection is done to ensure the goods are in line with what the importer expects.

Once all checks have been carried out and shipment found adequate, a certificate of conformity (CoC) is issued.

Example of a Certificate of Conformity

Regardless of regulations, an importer may request that their supplier provide testing and inspection as part of their sales agreement. This is called a pre-shipment inspection (PSI) and would be proven by a pre-shipment inspection certificate which is very similar to a certificate of conformity.

Whether required or not, the benefits of trading with certificates so conformity are:

  • Protection of consumers against dangerous, sub-standard, or counterfeit products.
  • A means of discouraging unethical or environmentally detrimental trade.
  • Protection of the domestic industry from unfair competition of poor-quality imports
  • A guarantee to the buyer that the goods ordered are those shipped.
  • Quicker and easier trade operations. It is unlikely that port authorities in the country of import would require inspection and testing of a shipment already accompanied by a certificate of conformity.
  • Automatic compliance to recommendations of the World Trade Organisation “Technical Barriers to Trade” agreement.
  • A general means of enhancing the quality of exports.

Who needs a certificate of conformity?

Each government working on a conformity verification system may decide for which commodity types a certificate of conformity is required for traders to import.

Here is a list of countries who currently require certificates of conformity. To view information of their conformity regulations, the products that require certification, and product quality specifications, click on the relevant country name.

Do you need a certificate of conformity to export to any of these countries?

Contact our consultants to arrange your conformity testing, shipment inspection, and certificate of conformity with Bureau Veritas – a world leader in testing, inspection, and certification in compliance with international standards.

Tracy Venter

Tracy transitioned from industry to founding Import Export License in 2011, aiding importers and exporters with customs compliance. In 2014, she launched Trade Logistics, focusing on supporting startups and SMMEs in international trade. Since then, Tracy's team has assisted 35,000+ businesses, reaching 32,000 traders monthly through newsletters. She's contributed to publications like Entrepreneurs Magazine and SME Toolkit, spoken at trade events, and participated in customs forums. Import Export License helped with the pilot trial to launch customs' new online registration platform (RLA). Through Trade Logistics she has launched 3 online import-export training courses. She holds an Honours degree from Stellenbosch University and a Cum Laude Masters from Middlesex University. In her spare time, Tracy enjoys running, mountain biking, playing piano, and cherishing moments with her husband and four children.