Imagine a scenario where you finally managed to ship that goods worth 10000 USD to Nagoya. Long time off work has finally paid off, but all of a sudden you get terrible news. The goods are rejected and seized by the Japanese Customs. In the best case, the goods are sent back, in the worst case demolished. I keep my fingers crossed that you will never experience a situation like this. But, it’s not rare for Western business owners to face these kind of issues when their products can’t meet required certification standards.
This article is dedicated to business owners who plan for exports to Japan, but never heard about the JIS-mark. In this guide I present valuable information concerning application processes, product categories that need the JIS-mark, testing and costs. But let me start with an introduction of the JIS-mark.
What is the JIS-mark?
The JIS-mark is a Japanese quality certification mark and needed for a vast range of products. The word JIS an acronym for “Japan International Standards” and the mark is coordinated by the committee with the same name, JISC (Japan International Standards Committee). The mark is mainly used for industrial products, but needed for consumer goods and other products as well. That’s why I highly recommend you to continue reading this article if you are a small business owner who plan for exports to Japan.
Products that need the JIS-mark
It would take me hours and countless of pages to list all the products that need the JIS-mark. Instead, I created a list that shows a selection of products:
- Electrical products.
- Office equipment.
The application process
To apply for certification marks take time, require costs and I doubt you can manage it without raising one or two questions. But don’t worry, you can clarify issues and ask questions when you find a certification company that is capable to help you with the certification. Let’s continue and have review the application process for the JIS-mark.
Find an authorized certification company
You can easily find certification companies on JISC’s website (see link above). If the website doesn’t contain sufficient information, you can contact Trade commissions as they are often willing to support exporters that have questions. When you search for a certification company, it’s important that you make sure they are capable to perform the tests and conformity assessments needed for the products you plan to export.
So how can I verify the credibility of the certification company? I’d say you have three options: You can check their website and contact them by email or phone. The website should contain the following information at a minimum: Estimated costs for testing, certification procedures and test methods. You can be frank and request a copy of their financial statement too. The financial statement shows you the formal record of the company’s financial activities of the business and proves their credibility.
You submit the application
Now it’s time for the submission of the application! In most cases, you receive feedback and correct minor items in the application. The following points need to be included in your application:
- Your name and address.
- The name and location of the factory.
- The numbers and names of the JIS-standards your products must conform to.
- Information and the name of your product.
The good point here is that the application can be filled in in English and you don’t necessarily need help from a third party.
An auditor performs a factory inspection
Factory audits are default prior to the issue of certification marks. That’s set in stone. In fact, I’ve never heard about a certification mark that can be issued prior to a factory audit. When it comes to the JIS-mark the audit can be performed in accordance with ISO 9001.
Your products are tested according to the JIS-standards
Your products must be tested to secure the safety for humans and properties. The tests can be performed in four different ways as listed below:
- The certification company performs the tests in its own lab.
- An authorized third party performs the tests (assigned by the certification company).
- Staff from the certification company performs the tests in the exporter’s factory’s lab.
- Your staff performs the tests with witnesses from the certification company.
- The tests are performed by a third party assigned by you (and approved by the certification company).
Approval or rejection
The certification company makes a final evaluation after the factory audit and the product tests.
You better prepare a celebration if your products are in compliance with the JIS-standards and pass the tests.
Agreement on usage of the JIS-mark
If you managed to reach this far, congratulations! You have almost crossed the finishing line and it’s time to set up an agreement for the usage of the JIS-mark. There regulations stating how to affix the mark and how to use it. A funny fact is that you can include the JIS-mark on your business card.
Where and how can I affix the JIS-mark? You can affix the mark on the products or the batches before ship out. The certification company chooses the best affix method for your products and the frequency of re-certification.
The auditor performs follow-up audits
The certification company is obliged to request a re-certification at least 6 months before your certification expires. You submit an application for re-certification, later the certification company issues an audit plan. Your products will be tested and your factory re-audited again.
Fees to be paid for for an issuance of the JIS-mark
It’s time for me to present the less fun part of this article: The fees for the JIS-mark.
What do I need to pay for?
- The application fee: Administrative costs that are charged only for the first application.
- The factory audit fee: Administrative costs when your documents are reviewed and costs that arise when the auditors visit the factory.
- Product testing fee and administrative costs.
- Certification costs: Costs for arranging the audit, evaluate and issue the certificate.
- Renewal of the certification fee: To be paid within the same month as the certificate was issued, every year.
- Travel fees for the certification company: You are obliged to pay for accommodation, daily allowances and transportation fees.
Questions and answers
What happens if the company is not longer authorized to perform audits and to issue JIS-marks?
In a case where your certification company is removed from the list as a “credential company”, your JIS-mark will no longer be valid. You are not allowed to export any parts to Japan until you find a new certification company that performs new product testing and a new factory audit. The certification company is obliged to inform it’s loss of its authorization 6 months before.
How long time is needed for the certification company to make a judgement?
The time needed is in general 3-6 months, but should be confirmed by the certification company. The information can be found on their website.
What should I do if the factory has changed?
You need to apply for a new certification in the case where the production factory is changed. For more details, discuss with the certification company and request to receive more information.
Let’s review a short summary of the JIS-mark and how to apply for it.
- The exporter applies for the JIS mark (submission of documents).
- An authorized laboratory certifies your products (Product testing and factory audit).
- Everyone from retailers, manufacturers and exporters can apply for the JIS-mark.
- The auditor performs the certification through factory audits and product testing.
- The auditor and valid JIS-standard set the criteria.
- You must renew your certification once every third year.
I hope you found this article interesting and learned more about a certification mark that few exporters have even heard about.