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South Korea is a country that has been known for its technological advancements and has been gaining a lot of attention in the global market. However, if you are planning to export your products to South Korea, you need to obtain KC certification. KC certification is mandatory for electronic products, toys, and machinery that are exported to South Korea.

What is KC certification?

KC certification (also known as KC safety certification or KC mark Korea certification) is a mandatory certification system in South Korea for electrical and electronic products. It is similar to CE certification in Europe and FCC certification in the United States. The certification process involves testing the product to ensure that it meets safety, electromagnetic compatibility, and radio frequency requirements. Once the product passes the tests, it is granted a KC mark, which indicates that it is compliant with South Korean regulations. The certification process is administered by the Korea Conformity Laboratories (KCL). They review the application, issue the KC certification, and monitor compliance. It is important to follow the guidelines and requirements set by the KCL to ensure a smooth certification process.

The KC approval is usually a so-called manufacturer certification. Outside Korea, only product manufacturers are allowed to apply for KC approval of their products and non-Korean traders or exporters are not allowed to apply. Distributors cannot directly apply for approval. After the certification process is completed, the name of the manufacturer of the product will appear on the obtained KC certificates.

Why is KC certification important?

KC certification is important for several reasons.

  • It ensures the safety of the products that are exported to South Korea.
  • It ensures that the products meet the quality standards set by the South Korean government. Third, it helps to build trust between the exporter and the importer.
  • It is mandatory for products to be sold in the South Korean market.

Companies that do not comply with the KC certification system can face penalties such as fines, suspension of business, and criminal charges. It is, therefore, essential for companies to ensure that their products meet the safety and quality standards of South Korea.

Who needs KC certification?

Any company that manufactures, imports, or sells products in South Korea needs KC certification.

What products require a KC mark?

  • Electronic products include products that use electricity, such as audio and video equipment, televisions, computers, monitors for computers, printers, and mobile phones.
  • Household products, such as lighting products, pressure cookers, vacuum cleaners, dishwashers, irons, PVC flooring, cradles, and high chairs.
  • Toys include products that are used by children and infants, such as stroller, dolls, board games, puzzles, roller skates, skateboards, and bicycles for children.
  • Machinery includes products that are used in industries, such as construction equipment and manufacturing machinery.
  • Others like gas appliances, automotive components, brake fluid, and medical devices.

In most cases electronic products also require a KC EMC Registration or certification, especially if RF technologies are built-in. The full list of products that require a KC mark can be found on the website of the Korea Testing Laboratory (KTL). GTG can also check whether the product is subject to any certification requirements based on its technical specifications, international standards, and other information. We are happy to assist here.

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KC safety certification process

There are three different certification types in the KC certification system for each of the three product categories. The various certification types are product specific and differ in terms of the scope and complexity of the certification process.

Type 1: KC safety certification

Type 1 represents the most complex certification process with the most stringent requirements. In addition to product tests in Korea, the production site must also be audited with follow-up inspections each year to maintain the validity of the certificates.

Type 2: KC safety confirmation

Type 2 requires product testing in Korea with applications to complete the certification process. However, no factory audit is required.

Type 3: Supplier confirmation of conformity

Under Type 3, the manufacturer must ensure and be able to demonstrate that products meet Korean standards. Testing in Korea is usually the easiest option for this. Type 3 has als become know as the KC Supplier Conformity Check.

Procedure for KC Mark approval in Korea (Type 1 & 2)

  1. Application preparation
  2. Submission & review of the application
  3. Factory audit (only for Type I products)
  4. Product tests in Korea
  5. Issuance of KC certificate and marking

The first step of KC Safety approval is always to prepare the application. It is also required to provide a product manual in Korean language as part of the application.

KC safety certification overview

 Type 1Type 2Type 3
Validity of CertificatesSubject to regular follow-up certificationsBasically unlimited, but subject to product changesBasically unlimited, but subject to product changes
Certification period4-5 months3-4 months2-3 months
MarkingProducts must be marked with the KC logo, registration number, and manufacturer + product informationProducts must be marked with the KC logo, registration number, and manufacturer + product informationProducts must be marked with the KC logo, registration number, and manufacturer + product information
Tests required?Yes, in KoreaYes, in KoreaYes, in accordance with the Korean standards
Factory audit required?YesNoNo
Follow-Up processRegular follow-up audits and product testing requiredMarket surveillance in KoreaMarket surveillance in Korea

What does the KC marking look like after KC certification?

After the KC Mark registration has been successfully completed, the KC logo must be marked on the product. Depending on the type of certification, the logo must be marked in either gold (10YR 6/4) or black (N 2) for Type 1 and blue (5PB 2/8) or black (N 2) for Type 2 products. This KC Mark certification label confirms certification and that the respective product complies with the Korean safety standard.

In addition to the certificate number, certain product-dependent information (e.g., model name, manufacturer’s name, support hotline and power supply details) usually need to be indicated on the KC label. This information must be in Korean (with English also being added optionally).

How do I have to mark my products after certification?

Products must be marked with the KC logo, certificate number, manufacturer details and certain other product specific information.

How much does it cost to obtain a KC mark?

The cost of KC certification varies depending on the product category and the testing laboratory. The cost includes the testing fee, the certification fee, and the administrative fee. The cost can range from a few hundred dollars to thousands of dollars.

How long does it take to obtain a KC mark?

The process usually takes about 3-4 months (without audit) or about 4-5 months (if an audit is required). This includes the preparation of the application documents under the condition that all required information is available.

For product testing, 1-2 months should be calculated, depending on how much coordination with the test laboratory is necessary for the respective product.

If a CB certification is available, the certification period could be shortened since not all product tests may not have to be performed again.

Which facilities will be audited?

The audit always takes place at the manufacturer’s production site. If production is distributed over several locations, the plant with the last quality assurance production step must be audited.

Do authorities inform KC certificate holders about changes in the regulations?

No, the information is only provided in Korean by KATS on their website. Applicants must track regulation changes independently or hire a consulting firm to monitor changes to be reliably informed of changes that affect the compliance of their products to avoid non-conformities, suspensions or cancellation of their certificates.

Which certification authorities are approved for KC Safety certification?

The three major certification authorities that are accredited and permitted to conduct product testing & audits and issue certificates are:

  • Korea Testing Laboratory (KTL)
  • Korea Testing and Research Institute (KTR)
  • Korea Testing and Certification (KTC)

KC certification and intellectual property rights

KC certification does not provide any protection for intellectual property rights. It is the responsibility of the exporter to protect their intellectual property rights in South Korea. This can be done by obtaining patents, trademarks, and copyrights.

The importance of language in KC certification

Language is an important factor in the KC certification process. All the documentation, including the application form and the technical documents, must be in Korean. It is important to hire a professional translator to ensure that the documentation is accurate and meets the requirements of the KCL.

Validity of KC certification

KC Certification is valid for five years. After the expiry of the certification, the company needs to renew the certification by submitting the required documents and samples to the TCO (Testing and Certification Organization).

Can products that have been certified in other countries be sold in South Korea?

Products that have been certified in other countries may be able to be sold in South Korea. However, in order to do so, the product must meet certain requirements and may need to be retested by a designated testing laboratory in South Korea.

How can GTG assist you with KC certification?

The KC certification process can be complex and time-consuming. Some common pitfalls include incomplete documentation, incorrect test reports, and language barriers. It is important to work with a trusted partner who has experience in the KC certification process.

In addition, the authorized testing laboratories play a crucial role in the KC certification process. They conduct the required tests and issue the test reports. The process can take anywhere from a few weeks to several months. It is important to choose an authorized testing laboratory that has experience in the product category and the applicable standards.

Fortunately, GTG have the expertise and experience to guide you through the process and ensure that your product meets all the necessary requirements.

GTG is a national recognized certification company that specializes in product certification. We have a team of experts who are familiar with the KC certification process and can help streamline the KC certification process:

(1) Product testing

GTG has a state-of-the-art testing facility that can test your product to ensure that it meets all the necessary safety standards.

(2) Documentation preparation & review

The following application documents are required for KC certification:

  • Application form
  • Company registration file
  • Complete contact information of the Korean importer and manufacturing facility
  • Product descriptions and/or manual (in Korean)
  • List of critical components
  • KC or CB certificates of the critical components
  • Circuit diagram
  • Marking example
  • If available, a CB certificate and test report of the product according to IEC standard containing 220V (AC) 60Hz.

If CB certificates and test reports according to IEC standards are available for the respective products, the certification and testing process can be simplified and possibly shortened. However, an important requirement is that the CB certificate includes the Korean voltage of 220V (AC) / 60 Hz.

The documentation review process is an essential part of the KC certification process. GTG can review your documentation to ensure that it meets all the necessary requirements.

(3) Factory inspections

Factory inspections are a crucial part of the KC certification process. GTG can conduct factory inspections to ensure that your production process meets all the necessary safety standards.

The certification process can be complex and time-consuming, but working with GTG can save you time and money. Contact us today!

Sources: Our guidance and/or articles are written in part based on publicly available information, and our own practical experience relating to product testing, compliance and certification. These are some of the primary sources we use:
  1. https://www.korea-certification.com/en/kc/what-is-kc-certification/
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