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UL 2595 – General Requirements for Battery-Powered Appliances
UL 2089 – Standard for Vehicle Battery Adapters
UL 1740 – Standard for Robots and Robotic Equipment
UL 879A – Standard for LED Sign and Sign Retrofit Kits
You can buy UL standard catalogs directly from standardscatalog.ul.com. Each standard (more than one may apply to your product) costs from US$400 to 1000.
Assuming you, or your supplier, lack the technical skills to implement a standard in a real life product, you may also need to budget for consulting fees.
That, and much more, is covered in this comprehensive guide for complying with UL standards, when importing electronic products from China.
1. Are there different types of UL certification?
Yes, UL can apply to either a product, or a manufacturer:
UL Listing: Verifies that a manufacturer can produce a product according to UL standards. UL follows up with the supplier from time to time, but don’t test each SKU or batch. However, sourcing a UL listed supplier is the best option for startups and small scale importers.
UL Recognition: Applies to machines, and other more complex products – or components. A UL Recognized supplier can put the UL mark on their parts.
UL Classification: Certifies that a certain product is compliant with UL standards.
2. Is UL listing or certification mandatory when importing from Asia?
No, compliance with UL standards is not mandatory, in the sense that you are not required by law to follow them. When it comes to importing electronics to the United States, it’s up to the importer to ensure that the product is safe.
One way to achieve that, is by following a certain standard, be it one developed by UL, or another organisation.
That being said, UL is the ‘de facto’ set of mandatory electronics safety standards, in the United States.
Say that something would go wrong with your product. It could be an exploding charger, or someone being electrocuted. Well, it’s your responsibility.
That’s the long answer to this simple question.
3. How do I know if a supplier can produce UL certified products?
The good thing is that many manufacturers in China are relatively familiar with UL standards, and quite a few in Shenzhen are UL listed.
In fact, they tend to either refer to European Union directives (i.e., Low Voltage Directive or RoHS), or UL standards.
While many electronics manufacturers can technically comply with UL standards, given that they receive PCB drawings, writing diagrams and a Bill of Materials (BoM) – you should only consider suppliers that have manufactured UL compliant products before.
The best way to do that, is by asking them to provide a UL certificate or test report, that you later verify directly with UL.
This is easy, as these documents are only issued by UL.
Just keep in mind that a UL classification is only valid for the specific product SKU that was submitted for testing. Even UL listed suppliers cannot provide test reports or certificates for every single SKU or product. That is, however, not required by UL.
4. How long does it take to get a UL product certified or listed?
Co-founder of Asiaimportal (HK) Limited and based in Hong Kong. He has been quoted in and contributed to Bloomberg, SCMP, Alibaba Insights, Globalsources.com, China Chief Executive, Quartz Magazine and more.