Article | November 18, 2020

Reaching New Markets During Lockdown With CSIA

A specific FCC approval process ensures that manufacturers with technology-enabled products can market and sell their products in the U.S. For companies looking to expand internationally, requirements and compliance with other countries’ versions of the FCC may be daunting.

Consumer Technology Association (CTA)® member Compliance Specialty International Associates (CSIA) works with manufacturers interested in obtaining these regulatory approvals or receiving necessary updated approvals.

The CSIA team shared how their services are helping businesses expand to and reach new international markets despite the challenges of 2020.

How has the coronavirus pandemic impacted regulatory approvals around the world?

With the onset of the pandemic, we have seen an increase in demand not only with our existing clients but also with new inquiries from manufacturers that are looking to international markets to diversify their client base to help compensate for lost business in the U.S.

Along with that, as more people work from home, we have seen an increase in wireless products and a subsequent need for approvals.

However, just like in the United States, most of the countries worldwide have had some form of lockdown that varied in duration and scope. That meant that many agencies either had reduced hours or were shut down completely.

Applications sat waiting for the agencies to return to work and when they did there was a large backlog of work. To further compound the situation, many agencies that had started back to work have had new temporary shutdowns occurring.

How have businesses needed to adjust to these changes and what are some of the needs that have risen?

The biggest impact has been on product launch dates globally. Since manufacturers must complete the regulatory approval process prior to importing and selling their products, any delay at the agencies will result in a delay in the date which these manufacturers can get their products into these international markets.

As more and more consumers globally are ordering products online, the need to be able to identify a potential country of interest, collect all the required documents, apply for and receive regulatory approval so that the manufacturers can import their products in a timely manner becomes even more vital. Identifying the roadblocks associated with the pandemic, as it relates to regulatory approval delays, is crucial to an expedient rollout of new products.

How is CSIA helping to meet those needs?

With delays and crucial timelines in mind, CSIA is talking to agencies in more than 190 countries on a weekly basis trying to stay on top of closures and delays so that we can try to give the manufacturers some idea of what we see in terms of actual approval times versus what they were prior to the pandemic.

It is vitally important to work with the agencies and understand their day to day working situation to avoid delays in the approval process as much as possible. Timely communication to the manufacturer from CSIA of any agency delays due to COVID-19 as well as an in-depth understanding of their marketing goals and timelines is crucial to a successful rollout of their products. This is especially true as many of these products are needed to assist in keeping people safe or allowing them to successfully work from home during the pandemic.

What are some of the changes and trends in regulatory approvals that you see continuing after the pandemic?

Over the past several years, CSIA has seen an increase in the requirements in many countries for the accreditation of the test labs that are doing the initial product testing and test report generation. As the pandemic has continued, the desire of these agencies to help streamline the processing of applications has become even more prevalent.

By requiring accreditation standards for the compliance folder test reports, the agencies are able to ensure with more certainty that the testing reports are being issued from a reliable source. This helps to eliminate potential fraud and can allow for a quicker review of the compliance folder materials.

Many of the smaller regulating agencies have also been taking steps to add more electronic and virtual steps to their certification processes. Other agencies have migrated more of their certification steps to take place electronically, including the issuance of the final certificate copy. While some of this migration has launched some technology and process changes, CSIA continues to see improvement with the agencies we work with that are making these updates.