What Is a Declaration of Conformity (DoC)?

A Declaration of Conformity (DoC) is a document stating that a product, usually electronic, meets the standards to which it must legally adhere, such as safety regulations.

Key Takeaways

  • A Declaration of Conformity (DoC) certifies that a consumer product has been tested by an accredited laboratory or test facility to make sure it is fully operational and safe before sale.
  • In the U.S., the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is responsible for issuing the DoC.
  • The official DoC is a record of all evaluations done before product approval, thereby making it easy to track responsibility and location for faults.

Understanding a Declaration of Conformity (DoC)

A DoC certifies that a consumer product has been tested by an accredited laboratory or test facility using approved methods to make sure it is fully operational and safe before it is sold. For example, it may certify that a product doesn't contain carcinogenic substances, that it won't break down, and that it won't create a choking hazard if it is intended for children.

Economically, the DoC provides users and consumers some assurance as to the quality of the product, while giving the sellers something to rely on as to the general merchantability of the product—provided, of course, that it actually meets the standards. This reduces the transaction costs of buying and selling goods that consumers might otherwise not trust due to information asymmetries about the products, and in some cases provides a safety net or liability shield for producers related to some risks to consumers.

An official DoC serves as a record of all evaluations that factored into approving the product. If it turns out that a previously approved product doesn't actually match up to its standards, the DoC gives a map of exactly what was evaluated and by whom. This makes it easy to track down what went wrong and who, if anyone, should be held responsible.

Testing of products may be conducted by government agencies themselves or by officially recognized third-party testing organizations, depending on the product and the jurisdictions in which it is made or sold.

Declaration of Conformity (DoC) Requirements

DoC's typically take two forms. First, a formal document or officially recognized report that details the standards and testing of the product, and secondly a stamp, logo, or mark on the product, its packaging, or marketing materials that indicates the product's standard conformity to customers and the buying public.

In the U.S., several federal laws, and numerous state laws, set safety and other standards for consumer products. The U.S. Congress enacted the Consumer Product Safety Act (CPSA) in 1972, which established the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) and defined its power to develop adequate product safety standards. In 2008, President George W. Bush signed the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA) to promote safety regulations, specifically in children's products, and impose harsher penalties on non-compliant manufacturers.

Components Included In a Declaration of Conformity

A DoC is created by the manufacturer or distributor of the product and should be signed by someone with the authority to both make decisions on behalf of the manufacturer and assign the resources necessary to make sure the process is completed correctly. Along with basic information such as the date and the manufacturer's name and address, a DoC typically includes the following items:

  • The specific model and/or serial number of the product
  • A full list of the directives that apply to that product and to which it must adhere
  • A dated list of all standards used to evaluate the product
  • A declaration that the product adheres to the necessary standards
  • An authorized signature and the name and position of the signatory

Additional information may be required depending on the product and the requirements set by the respective regulatory or testing agencies. DoC's must be translated into the languages of any countries that will sell the product.

Declaration of Conformity (DoC) Examples

In the United States, the mark of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is considered to be a DoC and appears on electronic products that meet its regulatory standards. While an official DoC is a document created by the manufacturer to show the details of its testing and prove its validity, the FCC label is itself considered to be a DoC to the public in America, as it is only stamped on products that pass these tests.

In the European Union, a generally used DoC is European Conformity, or CE Marking. Just like the FCC stamp, CE Marking on a product proves that it has passed approved testing so that people will believe it is safe for use.