Import of machines from China
Machines are subject to many import regulations
The import of products from China to Germany is subject to numerous restrictions and regulations. First of all, it is important to know that whoever imports the product into the EU is also liable for this. The manufacturer from China is usually out of responsibility at this point. The legal restrictions are complex, especially for machines, so it is worth finding out about all the guidelines and regulations in advance. This not only includes the EU directives for machines, but also the electronic scrap ordinance and the directive on low-voltage technology.
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It should be anyone who machines imported from China, take note of the information provided by the professional association and the trade inspectorate. In this way it can be ensured that the ordered machines reach German soil under the desired circumstances – and can be sold without complications.
At first glance are with a Machine import from China many advantages connected. In particular, you benefit from significantly lower purchase prices. With regard to product quality, the customer hardly has to make any compromises today. The biggest hurdle you have to overcome as an importer is meeting the complex legal requirements. Since January 1, 1995, machines can only be sold in the European Economic Area (EEA) if they comply with the EU machine directives. Before a machine can be sold, the producer is obliged to meet the specified conditions that are required in this guideline. Due to the fact that these and other directives and regulations are constantly being revised and tend to be formulated more and more complex, it is extremely difficult for the customer to meet the requirement profile. Under no circumstances should you make the mistake of trusting the Chinese manufacturer to the extent that you don’t care about compliance with the regulations at all. Ultimately, the one who “puts the machine on the market” in the EU, i.e. who imports it, is always liable.
In the following, the specific guidelines and regulations that must be observed by the importer, especially with regard to machines, are explained in more detail:
Guidelines to be followed depend on the product classification
What specific guidelines in the Import of products from China to be observed depends on the product itself. In the case of machines, the question could be relevant as to whether only the EU Machinery Directive or also the Low Voltage Directive or the so-called EMC Directive (= refers to electromagnetic compatibility) must be used. For the classification of the product, guidelines must be checked for their application obligation. In the new EU Machinery Directive an even more detailed classification is necessary, which takes into account the following factors in particular:
total number of machines
Particularly Dangerous Machinery (Annex IV)
Safety component (Annex V)
In the current EU directive for machines (2006/42/EG) it has been precisely defined what a machine is within the meaning of this directive. It is important to know that the directive does not regulate specific measures for specific product groups. Rather, it sets overarching and fundamental security requirements for the scope of the EU. These are then supplemented by other guidelines and regulations (see below).
“A machine in the sense of the Machinery Directive is
• an assembly of interconnected parts or devices, at least one of which is movable, fitted or intended to be fitted with a propulsion system other than direct human or animal power and assembled for a specific application. It is irrelevant whether the machine is functional on its own or not.
• An assembly of interconnected parts or devices, at least one of which is movable, assembled for lifting operations and the sole source of propulsion is direct human effort.’
The Machinery Directive also states that the manufacturer of a machine must ensure that a risk assessment is carried out for the purpose of fulfilling the applicable health and safety requirements (see EN ISO 12100). Manufacturers and importers must meet the following requirements before placing the machines on the market:
• Risk assessment
• CE marking
• The requirements of the Machinery Directive from Appendix I must be met
• Technical documentation must be created
• Instructions for operation and assembly must be created and enclosed
• Conformity assessment procedure must be carried out (+ declaration attached)
Electronic Waste Ordinance: Importers must bear the recycling costs
The Electrical and Electronic Equipment Act (ElektroG) was created to protect health and the environment. In addition, natural resources, which are often scarce, should be conserved. The aim was to keep the more than six million tons of electronic waste that accumulates throughout Europe away from the environment. For a number of years, consumers have had the option of returning their waste electrical and electronic equipment free of charge to specific, mostly municipal, collection points. The costs for recycling are borne by the manufacturers, importers, exporters and distributors. The basic statement of the regulation is that those just mentioned are responsible for the entire life cycle of the electronic devices. The importer should also take these costs into account in his calculation.
In addition, effective July 1, 2006, there is a policy banning the use of mercury, cadmium and lead and specific brominated flame retardants in electrical equipment where no alternative materials are available. Accordingly, machines with such ingredients may not be imported from China to Germany. In addition, since the beginning of 2007 there has been a ban on certain phthalates (plasticizers) in PVC toys and children’s articles.
Certificates (e.g. declaration of conformity) are often mandatory
When importing all products into the EU, the safety factor is of course of particular relevance. Many items may only be imported into the EU or Germany with a declaration of conformity. This declaration certifies that the respective product complies with the applicable regulations. You can decide whether you want to hand them in yourself or have them issued by an official body such as the TÜV. The consequence of the need for a declaration of conformity is that the products must be marked with a CE mark. In addition, the address of the person responsible for importing must be found on the product. The burden of proof lies with the importer. In case of doubt, customs will initially retain the product for inspection. In addition, the importer is well advised to adhere to further (voluntary) standards. Quality standards such as DIN, BS or ISO are almost a necessity in order to ensure buyer protection and ultimately boost sales figures. But beware: Certificates (e.g. GS – 5 years) are often limited in terms of their term. Consequently, the certificate should be up-to-date.
Low Voltage Directive only applies to certain product groups
For certain machines, it is necessary to meet further requirements in addition to the Machinery Directive already described above. This includes in particular the Low Voltage Directive in its most recent version 2006/95/EG. In principle, this applies to electrical equipment, alternating current (between 50 and 1,000 V) and direct current (between 75 and 1,500 V). However, there are also some exceptions such as devices that are used in potentially explosive atmospheres, medical devices or electricity meters. Operating resources for the use of aircraft, trains or ships are also not affected by this, provided that international safety regulations must be observed.
The Low Voltage Directive itself states: “The technical documentation must enable an assessment of the compliance of the electrical equipment with the requirements of the directive. (…) They contain: (1) A general description of the electrical equipment (2) a list of the standards applied in full or in part and (3) a description of the selected solution approaches”. The importer must therefore ensure that the technical documentation is complete when the machines are imported in order to comply with the low-voltage directives. Specifically, the following information should be considered:
• Description of the machine (instructions)
• If necessary. Circuit diagrams or sketches
• Declaration of Conformity
• Manufacturing, design or operational information (if required)
Electromagnetic Compatibility Directive
When importing machines, testing electromagnetic compatibility within the framework of the associated Directive 2004/108/EC can also be relevant. This applies to all machines that can cause electromagnetic interference or whose operation could be adversely affected by such interference. This guideline may also apply in addition to the EU guideline for machines.
liability issues Machine import from China
The Product Liability Act (ProdhaftG) clearly regulates in Germany that whoever brought the machine into the scope of the law (i.e. usually the importer) is liable for the functionality of the machine. The manufacturer in China is left out here. It is all the more important that the importer convinces himself of the quality and functionality of the machines before he delivers them to his customers in Germany. In this regard, it is important to pay particular attention to compliance with health and environmental regulations – here the controls and impending fines are particularly strict and high.
Trade association certification and testing system (DGUV)
In Germany, the professional associations have joined forces within the framework of a testing and certification system (DGUV Test). The aim is to be able to ensure the highest possible quality standard for the products. A “GS mark” is awarded for technical work equipment and for ready-to-use commodities, provided that the strict quality requirements could be met. The DGUV test mark is awarded if special areas of a machine are to be tested in more detail (awarding to sub-machines is also possible). Of course, each existing test mark (DGUV or GS) leads to better sales opportunities for the importer. Accordingly, the importer should inquire in advance whether and which of the desired test marks are possible for the quality standards supplied by the Chinese manufacturer.
In recent years, the EU Commission has issued a large number of regulations relating to the health, safety and environmental protection of products. Since the past has shown that many products were imported from China that are questionable from an environmental or health point of view, the regulations have now become significantly stricter. The challenge for importers of machines from China is now to meet the complex regulations (eg EU directives, EU regulations). First of all, the basis is the EU Machinery Directive. Furthermore, depending on the product type, the directive on electromagnetic compatibility, the low-voltage directive or the Declaration of Conformity of relevance. It also applies in most machines to the presence of the CE mark to respect.