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As the rules change or new procedures are developed, please note that these interpretation and/or guidance may not apply; you should always refer to the latest rules and guidance documents to determine what equipment authorization procedures should be followed. For the latest guidance on specific topics or you don't know where to start, please feel free to contact GTG experts.

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In this guide, we will learn three types of FCC certifications, what FCC ID is, what SDoC is, and how they are related. We will also look at the importance of FCC ID and SDoC for the communication industry in the United States.

What is FCC?

 
FCC Color SealFederal Communications Commission (FCC) Logo

▲ FCC Seal (Colored)

▲ FCC Logo

You can find the original FCC Seal and FCC Logo files at: https://www.fcc.gov/logos

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is the regulatory body that enforces rules and regulations to ensure that the communication systems in the United States are safe and reliable. It is an independent agency to regulate interstate and international communications over radio, wire, television, satellite, and cable in about 50 states, territories of the USA and the District of Columbia.

What is FCC certification?

FCC certification, also the United States Federal Communications certification, is a compulsory certification in the USA. It is mainly testing the security of wireless products and wired communication products.

Any product, especially electronic communication products, is required to make FCC compliance testing and get the FCC certification through FCC approval if it enters the USA market. In other words, the certification is that laboratories directly or indirectly authorized by the FCC test and approve these products according to the technical standards of the FCC. It does not require factory inspection, and the application process is simple.

In short, the features of FCC certification are:

  • Necessary for exporting to the USA.
  • Compulsory.
  • For electronic or electrical equipment/products.
  • Easy to apply without testing factories.

What are the benefits of FCC certifications?

  • It will help sellers access a broader USA market, and make more customers believe your products.
  • It provides legal rights for your products to sell in the USA market so that they will not be considered public health risks.
  • It shows your products are tested and certified to gain a competitive advantage of your products.

How to perform FCC testing and obtain FCC certification?

Before the certification process, you need to be clear about FCC testing types. Generally, FCC compliance testing is mainly divided by product type and some are named the following for your reference:

  • FCC Part 15 and FCC Part 18 (the most widely used).
  • FCC Part 22 (Public Mobile Services).
  • FCC Part 24 (Personal Communications Services).
  • FCC Part 27 (Miscellaneous Wireless Communications Services).

You can also check more type regulations for your product on its official website.

Two types of FCC certifications

Then you need to make sure which type of FCC certification is required for your products.
Before, FCC certifications included three types:

  • FCC ID
  • FCC VoC (Verification of Conformity)
  • FCC DoC (Declaration of Conformity)

But since November 2nd, 2018, FCC SDoC (Supplier’s Declaration of Conformity) replaced FCC DoC and VoC to make certifications, in order to simplify the FCC certification process and clarify the usage specification of RFID (Radio Frequency Identification).

FCC ID is mainly certified for wireless devices such as radios, Wi-Fi, RFID, ZigBee, Bluetooth and BLE devices while FCC SDoC is certified for general digital devices without wireless modules.

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What is FCC ID?

FCC ID is a unique identifier that is assigned to every electronic device that is sold in the United States. The FCC ID is a combination of letters and numbers that is used to identify the manufacturer and the product. The FCC ID is printed on the device or its label, and it is also available in the FCC ID database.

The FCC ID is important because it ensures that the device complies with FCC regulations. The FCC has strict rules regarding the amount of electromagnetic radiation that an electronic device can emit, and the FCC ID is used to verify that a device is within these limits.

 

How to apply for an FCC ID?

There are two methods for you to apply for an FCC ID certification:

1. Send products to FCC-TCB (Telecommunication Certification Bodies) directly, but it costs a lot with unpredictable time.
2. Select the third-party institution authorized by FCC to test products and send materials to TCB for issuing certificates.

The first choice is not advisable, and we will list the process of the second method in the following part.

Step 1: Apply for an FCC ID

If you’re applying for the FCC ID for the first time, you should register an FCC-FRN to create profiles and apply for a permanent grantee code. You can get the latest cost of this code by contacting a GTG Group expert.

Then you can check your FCC ID on the FCC official website.

Step 2: Select a test institution

Undoubtedly, you cannot test the product on your own, so you need to select a reliable test institution or a laboratory authorized by FCC to finish FCC testing, such as GTG Group.

Step 3: Test products

When waiting for FCC approval to send the grantee code to you, you need to send product samples with documents and files to the institution or laboratory for testing your products. Then the institution will provide a test report for you.

Step 4: Submit to FCC-TCBs

When testing and getting test reports from the institution, you need to submit all product documents with test reports to TCBs appointed by FCC, waiting for TCBs to audit.

Don’t forget to prepare the following:

  • Application form of FCC certification
  • FCC ID label and label location
  • Photos of product details (internal and external)
  • Product introduction
  • Block diagram
  • Schematic diagram
  • Operation theory
  • Test reports
  • Product test setup photos

Step 5: Issue FCC Certification

After confirmation, TCBs (FCC approved) will issue the certifications and then you can get the certificates within several weeks.

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What is FCC SDoC?

SDoC stands for Supplier’s Declaration of Conformity. It is a document that is issued by the manufacturer of an electronic device to declare that the device complies with FCC regulations. The SDoC is a legal document that is required by the FCC, and it must be submitted to the FCC before the device can be sold in the United States. Also, the SDoC is often required as the primary compliance document by the authorities, distributors, retailers, and Amazon as well.

The SDoC contains information about the device, including its FCC ID, the manufacturer’s name and address, and a statement that the device complies with FCC regulations. The SDoC also includes test reports that demonstrate that the device meets the FCC’s requirements.

What products require SDoC?

FCC Title 47, Part 15 lists the following device types as falling within the SDoC authorization procedure. Optionally most of these types can also be authorized under the certification procedures.

  • TV broadcast receivers
  • FM broadcast receivers
  • CB receiver
  • Super regenerative receiver
  • All other receivers subject to Part 15
  • TV interface device
  • Cable system terminal device
  • Stand-alone cable input selector switch
  • Class B personal computers and peripherals
  • CPU boards and internal power supplies used with Class B personal computers
  • Class B personal computers assembled using authorized CPU boards or power supplies
  • Class B external switching power supplies
  • Other Class B digital devices & peripherals
  • Class A digital devices, peripherals & external switching power supplies

Furthermore, FCC Part 15 regulates electronic and electrical devices that operate in the radio frequency range of 9kHz to 3,000GHz, and mainly classifies the devices into three categories:

  • Unintentional radiators
  • Intentional radiators
  • Incidental radiators

The SDoC is applicable to most unintentional radiators, which include non-radio enabled devices (e.g. non-WiFi or Bluetooth). Here are a few examples:

  • LED lighting
  • Power banks
  • Coffee machines
  • Personal computers
  • Mouses and keyboards
  • Fans

Note that FCC Part 15 does not regulate all unintentional radiators. For example, the following products are excluded by the scope:

  • Home-built devices (for personal use)
  • Digital devices for transportation vehicle
  • Digital devices for industrial, commercial, or medical test
  • Digital devices used in Power line carrier systems

Certification process of FCC SDoC

The certification process of FCC SDoC is similar to FCC ID certification:

  1. Fill in the application form
  2. Provide product details
  3. Send product samples
  4. Test products and get reports
  5. Submit all materials and test reports
  6. Wait for approval and issue certificates

What information should be included in an SDoC?

This section provides an overview of the main information that manufacturers and importers shall include in their SDoC.

(1) Product identification

Manufacturers and importers shall specify their device SKU, model number, batch ID, or serial number. Note that, although there is no specific format, it’s important that each device is uniquely identified, and that the information matches the one in the test report, user manual, technical documentation, and labeling.

You may also include a product image on the SDoC if you deem it necessary.

(2) Responsible party’s information

Typically, the responsible party might be the manufacture, the assembler, the importer, or a US representative.

The responsible party’s information shall include the following information:

  • Company name
  • Company address
  • Phone number or email
  • Name and signature of the responsible person

Note that the responsible party must be located in the United States, and non-US based companies shall hire a US representative.

(3) Compliance statement

Manufacturers and importers are responsible for product compliance and shall include a compliance statement in the SDoC, such as the following:

This device complies with Part 15 of the FCC Rules. Operation is subject to the following two conditions:

a. this device may not cause harmful interference, and

b. this device must accept any interference received, including interference that may cause undesired operation.”

(4) Supporting documents

Manufacturers and importers shall also include supporting documents such as test reports, or other relevant documents that support the compliance statement.

Do I need to test my product before issuing an SDoC?

Yes, the SDoC authorization procedure requires the products to be tested, in order to show compliance with appropriate technical standards.

Note that manufacturers and importers are not required to hire an FCC-recognized accredited testing laboratory, in order to carry out the tests. However, they shall still ensure that the laboratory of their choice is qualified for conducting tests according to FCC Part 15 requirements.

Thus, it might still be a good idea to appoint an accredited lab testing company.

How much does it cost to obtain an SDoC?

The SDoC is a self-issued document so there is no direct cost involved unless you decide to hire a consultant that drafts it on behalf of your company. However, as mentioned above, lab testing is required.

Therefore the cost mostly depends on the cost of the required tests for your devices, which might range from US$700 for relatively simple devices, to several thousands of dollars or more, depending on the complexity of the product.

SDoC Creation

Some testing companies also provide SDoC creation services. In general, it might cost US$500-700 to create one. Here are some examples of testing companies that offer this service:

Can a non-US based company issue an SDoC?

No, the SDoC’s responsible party must be located in the United States. If your company is not based in the US, then you shall appoint a telecommunication certification body (TCB), or another US representative, to act as a responsible party on behalf of your company.

Here are some companies that offer this service:

Can I get an SDoC from a manufacturer outside the United States?

Since the SDoC’s responsible party must be located in the United States, if an importer receives an SDoC from a manufacturer outside the United States, the responsible party in the SDoC shall be the TCB or other US representative appointed by the manufacturer.

In this case, we advise to also contact the representative in the US to confirm that they are effectively representing the overseas manufacturer, verify that the SDoC was drafted for the product that is being imported and that the test reports are valid.

What is the difference between the SDoC and Certification authorization procedures?

The certification is a more strict authorization procedure that requires the tests to be carried out by an FCC accredited lab testing company and the certificate to be drafted by a Telecommunication Certification Body (TCB). That is, it can’t be self-issued as the SDoC.

For most unintentional radiators, manufacturers or importers can choose either the SDoC or certification authorization procedures. However, some types of unintentional radiators can only be authorized via the certification procedure, including:

  • Scanning receivers
  • Radar detectors
  • Access broadband over power line

Meanwhile, intentional radiators, that is devices that emit radiofrequency energy by radiation or induction, are always required to go through the certification procedure. Here are some examples of intentional radiators:

  • Wireless headphones
  • Bluetooth speakers
  • Wireless chargers
  • Smartphones

As said, unlike the SDoC procedure, manufacturers and importers shall appoint an FCC-recognized telecommunication certification body (TCB) to carry out the certification procedure. TCBs are responsible for evaluating the compliance of radio devices, review the documentation such as technical files, test reports, and user manuals, and issuing the certificate.

Note that, if your product contains both intentional and unintentional radiator components, you do not need to certify the whole product.

Let’s take a laptop as an example. It will typically contain some intentional radiators (the Bluetooth and wireless transmitters, for example), while the rest of the components (i.e. monitor, circuits, the cables), are unintentional radiators.

Importers are required to go through the certification procedure only for the transmitters – or choose to purchase transmitters that are already certified, – while the rest of the components can be authorized via the SDoC procedure.

Does the SDoC also apply to the FCC Part 18?

The SDoC is also required for some unintentional ISM (Industrial, Scientific, and Medical) equipment covered by FCC Part 18. FCC Part 18 contains the procedures and requirements for authorization if you are planning to import or sell such products in the United States.

Similar to the FCC Part 15, covered products must either go through the SDoC or the certification procedure before being placed in the market.

How are FCC ID and SDoC related?

The FCC ID and SDoC are related because the FCC ID is used to identify the device, and the SDoC is used to declare that the device complies with FCC regulations. The FCC ID is printed on the device and is also available in the FCC ID database. The SDoC is a legal document that is submitted to the FCC to declare that the device complies with FCC regulations.

The FCC requires that every electronic device that is sold in the United States must have a unique FCC ID. The FCC ID is used to identify the device and to ensure that it complies with FCC regulations. The SDoC is a legal document that is required to declare that the device complies with FCC regulations.

Importance of FCC ID and SDoC

The FCC ID and SDoC are important for the communication industry in the United States because they ensure that electronic devices are safe and reliable. The FCC has strict rules regarding the amount of electromagnetic radiation that an electronic device can emit, and the FCC ID and SDoC are used to verify that a device is within these limits.

The FCC ID and SDoC are also important for consumers because they provide information about the device’s manufacturer and its compliance with FCC regulations. Consumers can use the FCC ID to look up information about the device in the FCC ID database, and they can also use the SDoC to verify that the device complies with FCC regulations.

 

How can GTG Group assist you with FCC certification?

Generally, FCC will provide the certification services, but as mentioned above, it takes a lot of time and maybe costly. Therefore, a third-party testing institutions with FCC accreditation will be a good choise, they can not only perform testing as FCC required, but provide full and detailed test reports while cost-effective.

Fortunately, GTG Group is officially accredited by FCC! GTG Group is here to assist you in determining which of the regulations are applicable to your product. We provide you with the necessary FCC certification, Supplier’s Declaration of Conformity (SDoC), formerly verification, and/or Declaration of Conformity (DOC). Our regulatory experts can make a quick determination as to the required EMC testing and documentation requirements to bring your product into full compliance with the FCC. Contact us today to get started!

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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.fcc.gov/
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