What does that CE symbol mean?

I’ve seen this symbol on all types of products (kid’s toys, cameras, contact lenses, etc.) for years now and can’t figure out what it means.

It’s kind of stylized, the “C” being like a half-circle, and the “E” being a half-circle with the extra cross-piece added.

I did a Google search on “CE Symbol” and all I can find is it is some sort of quality control mark for medical devices in Europe. A lot of the pages were in other languages, so they were no help. The first web page Google referenced had the symbol, and said:*The instructions for use of your product are a fundamental component of the product. Incorrect instructions can lead to liability claims. You are not permitted to affix the CE symbol if the instructions infringe the relevant EC directive. Otherwise you risk competition measures by your competitors and fines. *

Sorry, but I still don’t get it.

It also wouldn’t explain why I’ve seen it on toys and cameras here in the US. Ok, the contacts maybe, but I still can’t find what it means, and why it it used.

Anyone know?

The CE in this instance stands for “European Community” in French. I always thought it meant that the product was “made in Europe”, but your search suggests that it is some kind of “quality mark”.

I suspect we won’t have long to wait until sets the record straight.

I believe it is akin to UL (Underwriter’s Laboratories) approval for the European Community. It has nothing to do with where the product is made.

Catch. http://www.rasnaimaging.com/cemark.htm

And there’s finally a question about my job!

The CE mark is similar to the CSA, UL, or Entela marks you will see on equipment and devices (look on the back of your monitor.) They all indicate that the device is certified to comply to a manufacturing safety standard that has been written and authorized by a technical committee which is a volunteer panel of experts from the relevant industry. They aren’t QUALITY marks, per se; they’re safety marks. If your lamp breaks, don’t call us at CSA. If your lamp sets your house on fire or electrocutes your wife, then we’re interested. Any manufacturer can get a CE mark.

The first major difference between the CE mark and the CSA/UL/etc. marks is that the marks we have here in North America are mostly voluntary. Most products with CSA or UL marks do not actually have to have them, according to the law. A good example of this is hockey helmets, which we at CSA test. Most hockey helmet manufacturers have us test their helmets, but there’s no law saying you have to. You can still buy helmets that have never been certified to a standard. Wayne Gretzky wore a Jofa helmet that probably would have split apart like an egg if he’d ever been nailed in the head with a puck. (Some standards in specific fields ARE legally mandated, though; standards are often referenced in law.) Reputable companies get the marks because:

  1. It’s good marketing,
  2. It usually serves a quality control purpose; after all, these standards are written by the industry that applies them, and
  3. It’s legally useful to demonstrate due diligence if you get sued.

The CE mark, however, MUST be applied to given types of products sold in or imported into Europe. If you manufacture hair dryers, you could sell them in the US with no certification mark (but you’d be awfully vulnerable to lawsuits.) You could not sell them in Europe.

The second major difference is that while the CSA, Entela, and UL marks are registered trademarks of those organizations, the CE mark is a universal mark that any authorized European standards body can hand out.

The third major difference is that the CE mark isn’t quite as hard to get as the other marks I’ve mentioned. High-tech and high-profile products tend to be tested, but a lot of regular crap like toasters and hair dryers can get a CE mark merely by “self-declaring” - e.g. “We tested it ourselves, so give us a mark” - and you can keep the mark until someone gets set on fire and they come to investigate you. On the other hand, CSA, UL, Entela and the like are jealously protective of their marks, since they have a vested interest in maintaining a profile of integrity, so they require periodic inspections of anything that carries their marks, and are loathe to let anyone else apply their marks.

So in summary:

  1. Those little circular marks that say “CE” and “CSA” and “UL” are marks that indicate the device meets a national or international safety standard.

  2. The CSA and UL and some other marks belong to specific certification companies who test a sample of everything that bears their mark. They own the marks and protect them very carefully.

  3. The CSA/UL/etc. marks are usually voluntarily applied, though in some cases they are legally recognized.

  4. The CE mark is different in that it is mandated for anything to be sold in Europe; can be handed out by any one of dozens of companies; and in most cases are easier to get.

What’s the difference between the “UL” circle mark and the backwards “UR” that I’ve been seeing a lot of lately. I understand they’re both Underwriter’s Labs symbols, but why two different ones? I checked the UL site but couldn’t find much…

I think it stands for Conformité Européenne: European Standard, not European Community. The latter also abbreviatesa to CE in French but has been superceded by UE.

And irritatingly, this even applies to second-hand goods. I recently had to throw away a perfectly good item of upholstered furniture because it was made before the CE mark was introduced so nobody would touch it. I couldn’t even give it away to charity!

TomH is right about what CE stands. It is the European equivelant to the U.S. FDA approval process. Medical devices in particular have to meet all the regulatory statutes set by Europe’s Medical Device Directive before obtaining the CE Mark and being marketed in Europe.

Thank you, everyone.

I figured it was some sort of quality control/safety thing, but I like hard answers.

Here’s a comment from someone who’s had something CE’d, in plain language.

Say, you’re trying to sell a pen in Euroland. You send a few sample pens to a designated laboratory in Europe with a full description. I think it cost me about $200. They take it apart, they melt it, they check for toxicity in the plastics or metals, they assess in the role that it is to be used for (i.e. a knife can have sharp edges, but not a pen), and if it passes a set of requirements, they OK it, send you a certificate and you can put the CE mark on your product.

The reason that nobody would take your furniture,TOMH,was nothing to do with the CE mark but another UK law.This has to do with the foam filling of your furniture.Because the foam was probably inflamable and would give off toxic fumes it is illegal to sell this second-hand. All new furniture has to meet strict regulations re the toxic by-products.The charity shops would not take it because they would not have been able to sell it on.Most people who die in house fires do so from the toxic fumes from furniture and not from the actual flames or heat.