CE marking guide for medical devices in the European Union

By
Bethaney Lentz
-
July 28, 2022
CE marking guide for medical devices in the European Union

This article is an excerpt from the CE marking guide for medical devices in the European Union.

Table of Contents

What is CE marking?

CE marking is a symbol that consists of “CE, “ which is the abbreviation of the French phrase "Conformité Européene" meaning "European Conformity". The term initially used to describe “CE” was "EC Mark" but it has officially been replaced by "CE marking" according to the EU Directive 93/68/EEC. CE marking is used in all EU official documents, although you will still see "EC Mark" being used in common language. If you are using EC Mark in your documentation, you should change that terminology to CE marking in the future.

The letters ‘CE’ appear on many products traded on the Single Market in all the member states of the European Union plus Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland. Simply put, The CE mark is a mandatory compliance mark, informing the consumer that the product is compliant with all applicable EU directives and regulations where the CE mark is required.

The Single Market was established in 1993 and is still considered one of the most significant achievements of the European Union. The main goal was to ensure the movement of goods and services freely within all the member states and to establish high safety standards for consumers. The CE mark indicates that goods and services do not need to be verified when shipping into another member country. To further support this movement, in April 2011, the Single Market Act was established to boost growth and strengthen confidence in the economy even further.

Why is CE marking important?

CE marking is required for many types of products, not just medical devices. The CE symbol can be found on bicycle helmets, toys, laptop batteries, wheelchairs, construction equipment, gas appliances and cell phone chargers - to name a few. CE marking is required for products manufactured anywhere that are sold in the EU, and only for those products for which EU specifications exist and require CE marking. The CE marking signifies that the product has been found to meet the general safety and performance requirements (GSPRs) of the European health, safety and environmental protection legislation and allows the product to be sold in the EU. 

CE marking responsibilities

Manufacturer responsibilities for CE marking

Medical device manufacturers are responsible for properly and legally CE marking products before they leave the warehouse.

Most Class II and III medical devices, along with IVDs and some Class I devices, require a conformity assessment performed by a Notified Body to ensure that all legislative requirements are met before it can be placed on the market. Manufacturers of most Class I devices can self assess conformity. This process needs to demonstrate that all the legislative requirements are met, including any testing and inspections, and that all necessary certifications are obtained.

The European Commission lists 6 steps that manufactures should follow to affix a CE marking to their devices:

  1. Identify the applicable directive(s) and harmonized standards - see EU standards for Medical Devices, In Vitro Diagnostic (IVD) devices, and Implantable Medical Devices.
  2. Verify product specific requirements using the essential principles identified in the above standards.
  3. Identify whether an independent conformity assessment by a Notified Body is necessary. Notified bodies will be required to verify compliance with relevant Essential Requirements for most medical devices classified as IIa, IIb, or III - along with sterile class I devices. See the Notified and Designated Organization (NANDO) database for available notified bodies.
  4. Test the product and check its conformity.
  5. Create and keep available the required technical documentation.
  6. Affix the CE marking and create the EU Declaration of Conformity.

Importer responsibilities for CE marking

If you are importing medical devices into the EU, it is your responsibility to review all the technical documentation and maintain a copy, or to make sure that it’s available to you upon request. 

You should verify:

  • That the device has been CE marked and that the EU declaration of conformity has been completed.
  • That the manufacturer has designated and established an authorized representative.
  • That the device is labeled appropriately and contains instructions for use (IFU).
  • When applicable, that a UDI has been assigned to the product.
  • Whether or not the product is registered in EUDAMED (registration is currently voluntary).

Take action:

  • List your name and address on the device or packaging, in addition to the manufacturer’s information.
  • Keep records of complaints, non-conformities, recalls, etc. on file.
  • Report any noticed non-conformity or product complaints from end users to the manufacturer and authorized representative immediately.
  • Maintain a copy of the EU declaration of conformity and any other relevant certificates.

Distributor responsibilities for CE marking

If you are a distributor, you are responsible for reviewing the technical documentation provided to you so that you can verify the product is safe to put on the local market. You must also be sure the product is labeled correctly with the CE marking symbol clearly visible. The technical file documentation contains all of the information that is necessary to show conformity of the product to the applicable requirements.

You should verify:

  • That the device has been CE marked and that the EU declaration of conformity has been completed.
  • That the device includes all the appropriate labeling, including instructions for use.
  • That if imported, the importer has complied with all the EU regulations.
  • When applicable, that a UDI has been assigned to the product.

Take action:

  • Report any noticed non-conformity to the manufacturer, importer, and authorized representative immediately.
  • If a product appears to be out of compliance to the regulations and could pose a serious risk, the information should be reported to the Competent Authority, and  to the manufacturer, importer and authorized representative.
  • Any complaints or reports from end users about the product should be reported to the manufacturer and, if necessary, to the importer and authorized representative.

Important note: If the importer or distributor markets the product under their own company name, then they become responsible for CE marketing, and take over that role from the manufacturer. 

What countries require or accept CE marking?

CE marking is mandatory when importing products into the European Union, which is part of the larger European Economic Area (EEA). The EEA Agreement, established in 1992 and made official in 1994, is an international agreement that enables the extension of the European Union’s single market to non-EU members. It consists of the 27 EU countries plus the four European Free Trade Association (EFTA) countries - Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland. Today, the EFTA has 29 Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) with 40 countries and territories outside the EU. Because these countries operate in the single market, this allows free movement of goods and services across all of the EEA. 

Source: European Environment Agency (EEA).

Which medical devices require a CE mark?

All medical devices sold in the EU require a CE mark. While a CE mark is not required for items such as chemicals and pharmaceuticals, it can be required for combination devices and medical device software. For these two situations, how do you know if your product requires a CE mark?

To continue reading this ebook, including an overview of CE mark costs, and the associated technical documentation/general safety and performance requirements (GSPRs) that manufacturers are required to maintain please register to download the full version

Download the full ebook

Similar posts

IVDR: In Vitro Diagnostic Regulation within the European Union
IVDR: In Vitro Diagnostic Regulation within the European Union
Ask us Anything ... about UDI!
Ask us Anything ... about UDI!
Oh No! How to recover lost medical device certificates
Oh No! How to recover lost medical device certificates