You've probably seen a 'CE marking' on a product and wondered what it stands for. We're here to provide clarity and tell you everything you need to know about the CE marking. What is a CE marking, and is it mandatory in Europe? What is the purpose of this certification, and how should you place it on your products? We'll also cover the consequences of incorrectly applying a CE marking. How do you deal with the Chinese export logo that closely resembles the CE certification? We'll show you how to distinguish between them. Additionally, we'll provide a handy step-by-step guide to help you easily understand what you need to do to meet European requirements. 

What is a CE mark?

The CE marking is a European-wide agreement regarding the safety of products in the European Union. There are many regulations surrounding a CE marking. On some product groups within the European Economic Area (EEA), a CE marking is mandatory. The EEA consists of all countries within the European Union, Liechtenstein, Norway, and Iceland. If your product falls within one of those product groups, you are required to place a CE certification. It is not intended to place a CE marking on a product that does not fall within one of the product groups; in fact, it is prohibited.

What does the abbreviation stand for?

CE stands for Conformité Européenne. Simply put, this means that a product complies with the European regulations. These regulations relate to different subjects. These include health requirements, safety requirements, performance requirements and environmental requirements. A product must comply with all these regulations before it is entitled to a CE mark. If a product does not comply with one of these regulations, the product must be modified, otherwise the consumer may not buy or use the product.

What is the purpose of a CE marking?

There are two reasons why the CE mark is used in Europe. Firstly, the free trade, because the mark allows products to be sold easily throughout Europe. Countries do not have to worry that a product does not meet certain requirements because it is approved according to European regulations. Products with the CE logo cannot be refused by any member state. A country within the EEA simply has to allow a product with a CE mark to be sold in its territory.

The second reason for using a CE mark is for consumer safety. When a consumer sees a CE mark on a product, he can assume that the product is good. It meets the health requirements, the safety requirements, the performance requirements and the environmental requirements. This offers protection to the consumer because he can assume that the product is good and works properly.

Who is responsible for the CE marking?

When a product is produced in one of the EEA countries, the producer himself is responsible for placing the CE mark. The producer is also responsible for checking whether his or her product meets all European requirements. A producer assesses his own product but must have a report of this. If a producer does not consider it suitable to inspect his or her own product or if strict safety requirements apply, there is also the option of outsourcing. An independent third party then checks whether the product complies with all regulations.

When a product belongs to one of the above-mentioned product groups, it must have a CE mark. When a product does not fall within one of these product groups it does not need to have a CE marking. It is not the case that the product does not have to comply with any requirements. There are still rules and legislation in the field of safety that your product must comply with.

For which product groups is a CE marking mandatory?

As we have seen, CE marking is not obligatory on every product. There are several product groups within the EEA on which CE marking is mandatory. These are the following groups:

Explosives for civilian useElectrical, electronic and energy-related products
Pyrotechnic articlesMedical devices
Building productsMeasuring and weighing equipment
ToysMachines and related products
Personal protection equipmentTransport equipment

When a product belongs to one of the above-mentioned product groups, it must have a CE mark. When a product does not fall within one of these product groups it does not need to have a CE marking. It is not the case that the product does not have to comply with any requirements. There are still rules and legislation in the field of safety that your product must comply with.

CE marking, but not mandatory...

You may think it is smart to just put a CE mark on a product to be on the safe side, but that is not the case. If a product does not fall within one of the product groups it simply may not have a CE marking. In Europe it is forbidden to place the CE mark on a product that does not fall within one of the product groups, even if it complies with the European regulations. It is therefore very important to know whether your product falls within one of the product groups.

Consequences of incorrectly placing a CE marking

When a CE marking is wrongly placed on a product, there are, of course, consequences. There are three possible outcomes of incorrectly affixing the certification. The first option may require the manufacturer to modify the product. Naturally, the intention is to modify the product so that it complies with the regulations. After the necessary adjustments, the product is then eligible for a CE marking.

The second option has greater consequences. It is also possible that the product will have to be taken off the market. The product may no longer be sold. There is also a third option for very serious cases. In these cases, the producer or importer is prosecuted.

Two different CE logos

In addition to the CE mark, there is also a logo that looks very similar. This logo comes from China and is almost identical to the European CE mark. In China, the letters CE stand for 'Chinese ExportThis is not an official European quality mark. It is purely intended to indicate that a product comes from China. Of course, in China they knew that the logo was very similar to the European CE mark. Some people call it clever on the part of the Chinese, as it inspires confidence, but of course it is extremely dangerous for the European consumer. When a consumer holds a product with the letters CE on it, he or she expects the product to comply with all regulations, while it may also be the case that the product does not meet these safety requirements. With increasing trade and imports from China, this is an increasing threat to you as a consumer.

How can you tell the difference between Chinese Export and Conformité Européenne?

It is very difficult to see the difference between a CE mark and Chinese Export. The only difference is that the letters in the Chinese Export logo are closer together. The C and the E are written directly next to each other. With the European mark, there is more space between the two letters. In the European mark, the C can be completed, as it were, as a circle. In the Chinese version, this is not possible, as the letters are too close to each other.

There is also a difference in the middle stripe of the letter E. In the European certification mark, the middle stripe is shorter than in the Chinese Export logo. There, the middle stripe comes as far as the upper and lower stripes. In short, pay attention when you see the letters CE on a product. If the letters are spaced apart, you can be sure that the product complies with all the rules. If the letters are close together, there is no guarantee that the product has been properly tested.

CE keurmerk verschil variant China


After you have read the above text carefully, you will know who is responsible for placing the Seal of Approval and when it must be placed. To make this step by step clearer, we have created a handy step-by-step plan. Here you can follow step by step what you need to do to make your product meet the requirements.

First step

First of all, you need to find out which product group your product belongs to. This is the first step in knowing whether your product needs to carry a CE mark. Each product group has different rules and requirements when it comes to the CE mark so it is important to know in which group your product falls.

Second step

When you know within which product group your product falls, it is important to know which requirements apply within that product group. As mentioned before, every product group has its own rules. You therefore need to know which rules apply.

Third step

Check whether you are allowed and able to inspect your product for compliance with regulations yourself or if you need an independent party for this. The manufacturer or importer can independently verify whether a product meets the requirements, but in some cases, it is mandatory to have a third-party independent entity examine it. This entity is also known as a notified body. This is especially common for products with very stringent safety requirements. If you have a product with a low safety risk, you can assess it yourself.

Fourth step

The fourth step is to carry out the inspection. If in step three, it was determined that you are allowed to inspect your product yourself, you can do so in this step. If a notified body is required to conduct the inspection, this entity will need to perform the inspection in step four.

Fifth step

The fifth step is to set up a technical documentation. This is a document that shows that your product indeed complies with the European regulations. This document is important because market supervisors can request it at any time for verification. The document includes drawings of the product, specifications, test certificates and instructions for use. This document must show that the product meets the requirements to be allowed to carry a CE logo. This document also contains a number of rules, such as what it should contain. It is also important that the document is written in the language of the EEA country where the product is sold or used.

Sixth and final step

When the previous five steps have been followed, it is time for the final step. This is the actual placing of the CE logo on the product. The CE mark must be clearly visible, legible and indelible on the product. If this is not possible, it may also be placed on a data plate. If this is also not possible, you are left with only one other option, namely to place it on the packaging or the instructions for use.

A distinction is made, however, between self-inspection and notified body inspection. If the product has been checked by a notified body, the product must bear the CE logo and the four-digit identification number of the notified body.

CE marking at TRALERT®

With LED lights from TRALERT® you don't have to worry whether the CE logo stands for Conformité Européenne or for Chinese Export. All LED vehicle lighting from our product range bears the official CE mark and not the variant from China. Our lighting is 100% tested and complies with all European directives. With our products you do not have to check how far apart the C and the E are or whether the middle dash of the E is long or short. The CE logo is not simply stuck on TRALERT® products. With our LED vehicle lighting the quality mark is neatly engraved on the product, as is expected from the European legislation. The certification mark is highly visible, easily readable and indelible.

If you still have questions about our product range, for example, you can always contact us. We are also happy to help you with advice on laws and regulations.