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EU authorized representative vs. EU importer

In the last articles, we have interpreted the detailed content of the EU Market Supervision Regulations for sellers, which also mentioned:

In order to better protect consumers and the environment in the EU, the packaging, label and instruction manual of CE-marked products imported from outside the EU must be clearly printed with the name and address of the manufacturer’s EU authorized representative or EU importer.  

Two special terms are mentioned here: EU authorized representative and EU importer. What is the essential difference between the two? Can the seller act as an EU importer of the product?

First of all, we must understand the definition of EU authorized representative and EU importer in Regulation EU 768/2008/EC of the EU General Framework for Product Marketing: 

“EU Authorized Representative”

Refers to any natural or legal person who establishes a company in the EU. After they receive a written authorization from a manufacturer outside the EU, they can perform on their behalf the specific duties required by the relevant EU directives and regulations for the manufacturer.

“EU Importer”

Is the person who is “first to place the product on the market”, this refers to a specific unit; but if the same batch of products are brought into the EU market by two companies, then both companies are importers . To put it simply, anyone who brings products from outside the EU to the EU market for sale can be understood as an EU importer.

From the perspective of the two definitions alone, the EU importer is the person who “puts the product on the market”; while the EU authorized representative is to perform the obligations required by the EU market supervision regulations for manufacturers outside the EU. The EU regulations also make clear requirements for the responsibilities of the two:

Duties of the “EU Authorized Representative” (minimal/at least):

1) Retain declarations of conformity and technical documents for manufacturers outside the EU for use by MSA;

2) Cooperate with the authorities when taking enforcement actions upon request of market surveillance agencies

3) Perform specific duties for manufacturers outside the EU in accordance with relevant directives and legal requirements.

Responsibilities of the “EU Importer”:

1) Ensure that the products with the CE mark correctly meet the requirements of the CE mark before being put on the market;

2) Identify oneself as an importer and provide its name and address on the product, packaging or instructions for use (IFU);

3) Ensure that the instruction for use is provided in the language of the end user;

4) Store and transport products in a way that ensures the products are suitable for use;

5) Keep records of any complaints, problems, etc., and take appropriate actions against them;

6) If necessary, recall defective products;

7) Keep copies of the declaration of conformity and sales records for at least 10 years after the product’s last sales date;

8) Respond to the information and cooperation requests of the European Market Supervision Agency (MSA), and ensure that the technical documentation of the products can be provided in response to the requirements of the MSA.

We believe that many sellers have already understood that in terms of cross-border e-commerce sellers, they are both EU importers and possibly manufacturers at the same time.

The implementation of the EU market supervision regulations is far more complicated than written. To avoid and minimize compliance risks, you must choose a qualified EU authorized representative for professional compliance service like Contact us for free consulting!