Product certification or product qualification is the process of certifying that a certain product has passed performance tests and quality assurance tests, and meets qualification criteria stipulated in contracts, regulations, or specifications
A product might be verified to comply with a specification or stamped with a specification number. This does not, by itself, indicate that the item is fit for any particular use. The person or group of persons who own the certification scheme (i.e., engineers, trade unions, building code writers, government, industry, etc.) have the responsibility to consider the choice of available specifications, choose the correct ones, set qualification limits, and enforce compliance with those limits. The end users of the product have the responsibility to use the item correctly. Products must be used in accordance with their listing for certification to be effective.
Product certification is often required in sensitive industry and marketplace areas where a failure could have serious consequences
. The process for certification of a product is generally summed up in four steps:
- Application (including testing of the product)
- Evaluation (does the test data indicate that the product meets qualification criteria)
- Decision (does a second review of the product application concur with the Evaluation)
- Surveillance (does the product in the marketplace continue to meet qualification criteria)