Follow-Up Services FAQ
Is the presence of the UL Mark the only means to identify a product that has met UL certification requirements?
Yes, the presence of a UL Mark on a product or device is the only means to identify that that particular product or device is certified by UL. The Classification Mark for classified products is also the only means of identification. At the present time, the use of the Recognized Component Mark, a mirror image of the "UR" is an optional marking on the component part itself. In some situations the Recognized Component Mark is required. For more specific information regarding the required marking for individual categories, please see the Online Certification Directory, available here: UL Online Certifications Directory.
How does UL verify that a manufacturer is still producing a product in accordance with the requirements after UL certification is obtained?
UL has a Follow-Up Service program designed to monitor the processes that a manufacturer uses to produce products in compliance with certification requirements. UL's field representatives make periodic tests and/or examinations at the factory, and may select samples from the factory, the open market or elsewhere for further determination of compliance. In addition, if a problem with a UL certified or classified product is reported to UL, UL will investigate these situations thoroughly.
Can you tell me about your representatives and factory inspections?
UL representatives audit a manufacturer to verify that a product continues to be manufactured the same way it was manufactured when it obtained UL certification. Audits may also include verification of required factory test programs, witnessing of tests required by the certification standard and verification that required test equipment is in compliance with the standard. Factory inspections are usually unannounced and are conducted on a periodic basis. A UL representative checks random samples of a customer's current production against the product description (Follow-Up Service Procedure) written by the engineer who originally evaluated the product. If the product contains materials that are not readily identifiable, UL may conduct sample testing.
What is the general services agreement?
The general services agreement is a contract which explains the terms under which the UL Mark may be used. It also explains manufacturers' obligations to continuously monitor their production so their products continue to meet certification requirements.
The general services agreement also describes the terms under which Follow-Up Service inspections are conducted. For example, the manufacturer agrees to allow UL personnel immediate, unannounced and unrestricted access to any part of the facility in which UL certified products and components may be fabricated, assembled or stored.
How much are the FUS inspection costs? What are the annual file maintenance fees?
Several factors determine FUS inspection costs. First, there is an annual file maintenance fee, with a base charge for the first file a client has with UL and a smaller fee for each additional file. For five or more files, UL sets a maximum fee.
Second, in-plant inspections are either billed at a fixed task rate or, for some product categories, at a per-label service charge. These fees vary depending on the product category and should be discussed with the FUS Label Group staff to get an estimated cost.
Third, follow-up sample fees may apply. Some clients may be subject to annual follow-up testing for their products and/or sub components. These also vary depending on the tests required.
Can you explain the initial production inspection?
The initial production inspection (IPI) is an inspection scheduled by UL to coincide with the first production run of UL certified products. An IPI is conducted whenever there is a new factory or a new product category is established at an existing factory. The UL Project Engineer may waive the IPI for an existing factory if the new product is in a similar category to another UL certified product already under Follow-Up Service at that facility.
During an IPI, the UL Representative performs a complete inspection of the product using the Follow-Up Service procedure, the same as in any regular inspection. If the product complies with the requirements described in the FUS procedure, the UL representative will release labels to the client to use on subsequent production. (There is no special charge for an IPI; regular FUS charges apply.)
In most respects, an IPI is like any other factory inspection. A major difference is that the UL representative schedules an IPI with the client rather than arriving unannounced. In addition, because the UL representative may not be familiar with the product and the factory, the IPI might take a bit longer than the regular inspection.
Can you explain split inspections for subassemblies produced at different plants?
For logistical or financial reasons, a manufacturer may choose to split the manufacturing process between two or more manufacturing facilities. A typical example would be when an appliance manufacturer with multiple locations consolidates the manufacture of printed wiring boards at one location. The machinery to apply components and solder the boards is very expensive, and by consolidating the printed wiring board operation, a company can avoid having to duplicate the production equipment setup at each factory. The completed boards can be sent to other locations for final assembly into finished products.
When a manufacturer splits the manufacturing process, UL must accommodate by similarly splitting the inspection process. The procedure describing the complete product is in place at both facilities. Special instructions to the UL representatives in the procedure explains what part of the manufacturing process takes place at each location as well as the responsibilities of the UL representative at each location. The procedure also describes an identifying mark that is applied at the first location to indicate to the UL representative at the second location that the subassembly was produced under the split inspection program. The inspection of the subassembly is not repeated at the second location.
Although there are additional expenses to the client to maintain Follow-Up Service at multiple locations, these costs are typically less than the costs to a manufacturer of obtaining, maintaining and operating multiple manufacturing operations.
How do I get labels?
When a project is initiated, an instructional package is sent to the customer that includes information on ordering and designing labels. Information about obtaining labels follows:
TYPE R: Customers design the UL label layout and then submit it to the FUS label group for authorization. The manufacturer may use a label or a molding, stamping, etching, or silk-screening process to permanently apply the UL Mark. The UL Mark may stand alone, or it may be included as part of another marking such as a nameplate. The manufacturer may produce the label containing the UL Mark, or it may be obtained from a UL-authorized printer.
TYPE L: Customers must order the labels through their UL Label Center. UL Label Centers are located in various locations - please click here for UL Label Centers. Customers may choose to use a UL-authorized printer or order standard labels which UL stocks for some products. In some cases, in-house printing at the manufacturing facility of Type L labels is authorized. Whether manufacturers order our in-stock labels, use an authorized printer, or produce them in house, they must still request them through UL's Label Center.
If a UL Listed, Recognized or Classified product does not appear to be safe to whom should I report this?
The Market Surveillance Department Field Reports section of UL's Consumer Affairs Group receives and investigates reports of problems with UL certified products. To report a problem, please contact customer service.
What would UL do if the manufacturer was not in compliance once the UL Mark was obtained?
If the examination discloses that the product is not in compliance with certification requirements, the manufacturer is required either to correct the nonconformance issues or to remove the UL Mark from the product.
If a nonconformance with UL requirements is identified during a UL Marks Follow-Up Services factory inspection, the nonconformance will be documented and resolved through the Variation Notice process. For more information on the Variation Notice process, please refer to the Field Services Variation Notice Frequently Asked Questions section, available here: Variation Notices FAQs
If I get a C-UL Mark for my UL product, what will happen to my follow-up costs?
You will be covered by a single follow-up program. When UL field representatives visit your facilities to countercheck products intended for the UL Mark, they will also be able to conduct the follow-up for any C-UL Marked products. The only additional charges you may incur will be based on the additional time the field representative spends at your facility to countercheck the C-UL Marked products. In many cases, no additional time will be needed.
Where can I find more information about Follow-Up Services?