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South Korea Market Access for Electrical and R&TT Products

The general regulatory framework applicable for import of electrical and electronic products to South Korea is based on Safety, EMC, Telecom, Energy Efficiency Approvals, and RoHS requirements.

The Korean Agency for Technology and Standards (KATS) is a National Standards Body of the Republic of Korea. It is responsible for the harmonization of Korean Industrial Standards (KS) with international standards, management of the national legal metrology system, and accreditation of certification bodies and testing laboratories.

In 2009, Korean authorities initiated a new certification system “KC” (Korea Certification) for electronic and electrical products which has become a mandatory accreditation system. To obtain the “KC” Mark—a mandatory mark issued by an accredited body—products that are in the scope of the KC system must fulfill:

  • Safety requirements (KC Safety)

  • Radiofrequency requirements (KC RF)

  • Electromagnetic compatibility testing (KC EMC)

Safety requirements

The Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy (MOTIE)—a safety authority on the territory of South Korea—delegated the authority to the Korean Agency for Technology and Standards (KATS).

The Korean Agency for Technology and Standards (KATS) accredits the certification bodies, manage and monitor certification bodies through the National Accreditation body—the Korea Laboratory Accreditation Scheme (KOLAS)—and operates with accrediting organizations such as KAS (Korea Accreditation System) and KAB (Korea Accreditation Board).

The “KC Safety” is a mandatory Korean Certification System according to Electrical Appliances Safety Control Act consists of:

  • Three certification schemes depend on specified product type

  • The KC mark to be placed either on the product itself, its packaging or both

The Korean authority initiated a new “KC” safety system in 2009 for all electronic and electrical products and components that utilize an input AC or DC voltage equal to, or less than, 1000V. Under the system, there are three certification schemes which depend on a specific electronic and electrical product type categorized as:

  • Type 1 products require KC Safety Certification. There are more than 50 devices within this type, e.g., electric wire, cords, switches for electrical appliances, motor-oriented electric tools, breakers, insulated transformers, lighting appliances, etc. They are considered as posing comparatively more danger to consumers. Besides meeting safety standards, the certification procedure includes factory inspection (initial and regular) with mandatory product testing every two years.

  • Type 2 products require KC Safety Confirmation. There is a self-regulatory safety confirmation scheme for those considered less dangerous to consumers, e.g. electric switch, electric appliances, audio and video electronic apparatus, lighting appliances, insulated transformers, information technology equipment, etc. The certification procedure includes safety testing without factory inspection. The Confirmation has a permanent validation period.

  • Type 3 products require KC Safety Supplier’s Declaration of Conformity (SDOC)ю Manufacturers or importers perform self-testing of the product and there is verification covering: electric appliances, audio and video electronic apparatus, information technology equipment, fluorescent lamps starter, DC power supplies/electric charger connected to the electric appliances, etc. The certification procedure includes safety testing from a third-party testing lab without factory inspection.

South Korea requires that manufacturers of all products subject to legally compulsory certification bear the KC Certification Mark prior to selling their products in Korea. Once a product has received KC Safety Certification, the KC Mark and product certificate number must be printed on the product.

Example of the KC Mark:

Telecom and EMC requirements

The Ministry of Science, ICT & Future Planning (MSIP) is an EMC/RF/Telecom authority that conducts EMC and wireless communication certification. KC certification is issued by Korea’s National Radio Research Agency (RRA) and requires testing at an RRA-approved laboratory.

The “KC RF+EMC” is a mandatory system and is divided into three schemes of conformity assessment. An applicable scheme depends on the product.

  • Conformity Certification “KC RF”. The equipment that can harm the radio environment, the broadcasting communication network, as well as those whose normal operation can be affected by radio waves, are subject to certification. For example, base stations, Bluetooth speakers, CDMA, PCS, WCDMA, cellular phones, IoT equipment, LoRA, LTE, LTE-A, radar equipment for ships, repeaters, RF modules, telephones, wireless keyboards, wireless LANs, wireless mouses, wireless modems, etc.

  • Conformity Registration “KC EMC”. Broadcasting and communication equipment that is not subject to certification of conformity is then subject to registration. For example, computers and peripheral equipment, measuring instruments, industrial devices, connectors, etc.

  • Interim of Conformity (Verification). The following scheme is used for new electrical and electronic products that don’t have a conformity standard yet.

Once a product has received the KC approval, the KC Mark and identification mark must be printed on the product.

Example of the KC Mark:

According to Rule 2018-13, the new Identification mark format is R-CS-ABC-XXXXXXXXXXXXXX. This rule will have a transition period until June 30, 2019.

1 - “R” is an identificator of broadcasting and communication equipment.

2 - “С” is an authentication field identification number. The certification field depends on a certification scheme. The identification number can be:

“С” - certification

“R” - registration

“I” - interim

3 - Empty (nothing) in code means new applications. “S” can be used only in case of conformity certification or conformity registration for the same equipment as basic authentification information.

4 - “ABC” is an applicant identification code given by the Director.

5 - “XXXXXXXXXXXXXX” is an applicant's "Product Identification Code (English, number, hyphen (-), underbar (_). The applicant must be listed and can be determined within 14 digits.

Energy Efficiency requirements

The Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy (MOTIE) and the Korea Energy Management Corporation (KEMCO) are key organizations that implement energy efficiency standards and labeling. The MOTIE drafts policy and regulations on energy efficiency standards and labeling. The KEMCO implements and operates them.

Korea’s energy efficiency management was drafted by the MOTIE notification based on the Rational Energy Utilization Act. It is divided into three programs. The MOTIE has delegated its rights to the KEMCO to operate these three major energy efficiency programs:

RoHS requirements

The Act for Resource Recycling of Electrical and Electronic Equipment and Vehicles (commonly known as Korean RoHS) entered into force on January 1, 2008.

Korea RoHS applies to televisions, refrigerators, mobile phones (including batteries and chargers), washing machines (for household use only), personal computers (including monitors and keyboards), audio equipment (except portable audio), air-conditioners, printers, copiers, and fax machines.

Certain products such as batteries, medical devices, and packing materials are out of the scope of Korean RoHS. Regulated vehicles include passenger cars, vans, and trucks under 3.5 tons.

Korea RoHS currently restricts 6 hazardous substances in electronic and electrical products and 4 hazardous substances in vehicles:

  • Cadmium(Cd) and its compounds: 0.01% (includes vehicles)

  • Mercury and its compounds: 0.1% (includes vehicles)

  • Lead(Pb) and its compounds : 0.1% (includes vehicles)

  • Hexavalent chromium (Cr6+) and its compounds: 0.1% (includes vehicles)

  • Polybrominated biphenyls (PBB): 0.1 %

  • Polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDE): 0.1 %

Manufacturers and importers of electrical and electronic equipment and vehicles shall make self-declaration of product's compliance with the concentration limits of hazardous substances.

Note that neither certification of the absence of restricted substances nor labeling of products is required. There are specific requirements under Korea RoHS for electrical and electronic equipment and vehicles that manufacturers and importers must comply with.

The information has been prepared by the GMA Consult Group team.

GMA Consult Group provides a full cycle of international type approval and global market access services for IT, Telecom and industrial electrical products in all countries throughout the world. With proven expertise in worldwide regulations, compliance, certification, and conformity assessment, GMA Consult Group can help your company speed up the access to any market with almost zero efforts from your side.

Need your own guide to the world of certification and approvals? Don't hesitate to contact us via info@gma.trade.

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GMA Consult Group provides a full cycle of international type approval and global market access services for the IT, telecom and industrial electrical products in all countries throughout the world. 

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