All you need to know about NRTLs

Are you planning to sell electrical equipment in the United States or Canada? Here’s how to gain market access through certification by a Nationally Recognised Testing Laboratory (NRTL).
engineers wearing lab coats conducting testing in laboratory

Many products, including all electrical products, must be certified by an independent third party before they can be sold in the U.S. or Canada. Nationally Recognised Testing Laboratories (NRTLs) are accredited to carry out such testing. Mandatory testing by a third party may seem like a daunting task, but if you know what to expect, the process can be relatively quick and simple. Let’s start with the basics to help you on your way.

What is an NRTL?
A Nationally Recognized Testing Laboratory (NRTL) is an independent laboratory that tests and certifies electrical products for the North American market. NRTLs are recognised by the United States Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and by the Standards Council of Canada (SCC) to provide evaluation, testing, and certification of electrical equipment. There are currently 17 bodies in the United States and Canada that are accredited as NRTLs. 

Compliance in the U.S. and Canada
Electrical products that will be placed on the United States market must comply with UL standards, while products intended for use in Canada must comply with CSA standards. NRTLs are equivalent to Certification Bodies (CB) in Canada. Several NRTLs are also accredited as CBs by the Standards Council of Canada. In other words, if you are looking to sell your product in both the United States and Canada, it is possible to have the same laboratory conduct conformity procedures for both markets (given that your product complies with both UL and CSA standards).

What does an NRTL do?
The function of an NRTL to test and certify products to demonstrate compliance with the relevant safety standards. They do so by carrying out the following: 

  • On-site testing
  • Field evaluation (on-site certification for limited production)
  • Assessment of production site
  • Product listing (certification for mass production)
  • Follow-up inspections

Which products must be approved by an NRTL?
OSHA currently requires 38 different types of products or equipment to be approved by NRTLs, including: 

  • Electrical products and equipment 
  • Fire detecting and extinguishing equipment 
  • Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) utilization equipment 
  • Equipment for use in hazardous locations 

Most products which require testing and certification by NRTLs are electrical equipment. Click here for the full list of products requiring NRTL approval

According to which standards do NRTLs carry out testing?
Electrical products intended for sale in the United States must comply with Underwriters Laboratories (UL) standards. Products that will be placed onto the Canadian market must comply with standards outlined by the Canadian Standard Association (CSA). Please note that both UL and CSA standards differ from both the European Union’s CE marking and international CB certification scheme. These marks are not sufficient for selling electrical products in North America. They must bear the mark of an NRTL recognised to test and certify these standards. 

How do I know whether a product is NRTL certified?
Products which are certified by an NRTL will bear a UL or CSA certification mark including the accredited laboratory which has carried out the certification process for that product. NRTL-certified products also have an official certificate, offering proof that they comply with the required standards of the North American market. 

Get your NRTL Certificate with Certification Experts
Certification Experts can help you access the North American market by guiding you through the entire process of product testing and approval by an accredited laboratory. We are not an NRTL, but we work closely with an accredited partner to provide fast and efficient product certification for the United States and Canada. Here’s an overview of the most common procedure for NRTL certification: 

  1. Conduct an initial engineering review (technical documentation review and on-site assessment)
  2. Create a findings report indicating required modifications
  3. Assess the modifications made through a second documentation review 
  4. Carry out official conformity assessment 
  5. Apply conformity marking label and obtain Certificate of Compliance (if evaluation is successful)

Steps 1 and 2 are also referred to as a pre-evaluation. We carry out these steps to ensure that you (the manufacturer) are highly likely to pass the official conformity assessment with the technical certifier. The official conformity assessment is referred to as a Field Evaluation in Canada and a Field Certification in the United States.

If the conformity assessment has been successfully completed, your product will be listed and you may affix labeling on your product to indicate conformity. Keep in mind that products certified by an NRTL are subject to unannounced factory inspection visits. 

Accelerated market entry
Working with Certification Experts can minimize the time and costs to obtain NRTL certification. We strive for fast and efficient certification procedures by providing the following: 

  • Identification of the UL/CSA standards applicable to your product
  • On-site assessment during an initial factory inspection
  • Provision of a conclusive report with modification suggestions 
  • Ensuring clear communication between you (the manufacturer) and the technical certifier 

Get started today with obtaining North American market access for your electrical products. Our technical and legal experts will create a tailor-made route to compliance so that you can get your NRTL certification quickly and efficiently. 

  • Certification Simplified

Certification Experts is an independent product compliance organization. With over 25 years of experience, Certification Experts evolved in a hub of expertise and subsequently established a valuable track record. With offices based in the Netherlands, Germany and China, we offer tailored expertise for a wide range of subjects pertaining to the entire product safety spectrum.

  • Certification Simplified

Certification Experts is an independent product compliance organization. With over 25 years of experience, Certification Experts evolved in a hub of expertise and subsequently established a valuable track record. With offices based in the Netherlands, Germany and China, we offer tailored expertise for a wide range of subjects pertaining to the entire product safety spectrum.

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