Electro Technical Overview
Electrotechnical protects the safety and health of consumers and the environment, by enforcing compulsory specifications (VCs) in the electrical and electronic technology areas. The regulated products include household appliances, power tools, ICT equipment, audiovisual equipment, lighting products; and electrical components such as plugs, adaptors, and switches. Electrotechnical is an accredited inspection body and conducts its operations in accordance with the requirements of SANS/ISO/IEC 17020: Conformity assessment — Requirements for the operation of various types of bodies performing the inspection. The accreditation demonstrates the technical competency of its staff for the defined scope and the operation of an effective management system.
Enforcement of VCs is done at two stages: pre-market approvals; where regulated products are required to be approved by the regulator before they enter the South African market, and post-market inspections; where products within the regulatory scope are inspected at source i.e. manufacturers premises, ports of entry, and importers premises, and at retailers. Any non-compliant products found on the market are dealt with in accordance with the requirements of the NRCS Act, Act 5 of 2008, as amended.
The unit leverages some NRCS cooperative and collaborative working arrangements with other government departments and agencies with overlapping and related mandates in the electrotechnical sector. Some of the partnerships in place include Memoranda of Understanding/Agreement (MOU/A) with the following:
- Department of Labour and Employment (DoL) – on aspects regarding the approval of components of fixed electrical installations;
- Department of Mineral Resources and Energy (DMRE) – on the energy efficiency of electrical and electronic apparatus;
- Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA) – on aspects concerning the electromagnetic compatibility (EMC) and electromagnetic interference (EMI) of certain electrical and electronic apparatus;
- South African Revenue Service (SARS) – on the control of the movement of regulated goods at the ports of entry;
- National Consumer Commission (NCC) – establishing and maintaining a cooperative relationship for the provision of mutual assistance and advice in order to ensure the consistent application of the relevant legislation.
In accordance with the NRCS Act, Act 5 of 2008, and the Regulations thereto, all importers and manufacturers of regulated electrotechnical commodities are required to register with the NRCS. In addition, levies are payable for all regulated products as gazetted from time to time.
Approval and Inspection
The Approval Process
Each model (or family) of products covered by the scope of VCs require to be approved by the regulator before they enter the South African market. Approvals are conducted in accordance with the relevant policies and procedures. The regulator deploys a risk-based approach and evaluates the evidence of conformity submitted with the application for approval, only granting approval when the requirements of the relevant VCs have been met. The evidence of conformity includes a valid test report, issued by an appropriately accredited and internationally recognized body, being a member of an IAF /ILAC /IECEE mutual recognition scheme in accordance with the NRCS's conformity assessment policy.
How to Apply for Approvals
Only applications for approval that are lodged online are accepted. The applicant shall be an existing legal entity within the Republic of South Africa. Applications for safety LOAs are submitted on the CRM System, while as from 1 April 2021, applications for Energy Efficiency (EE) LOAs are submitted on the EE Database System.
Types of Approvals Issued
Electrotechnical issues three types of approvals:
- Letter of Authority (LOA): issued for products that meet the requirements of the relevant VCs for safety and energy efficiency.
- Regulatory Certificate of Compliance (RCC): for the safety of components of fixed electrical installations covered by Table 4.1 of the Wiring Code, SANS 10142-1:2020
- Authorisation Certificate (AC): for the safety of products covered by the wiring code, which do not fall under Table 4.1, where it is deemed that the safety integrity of the installation is not compromised. In this case, applicants are required to present such evidence to the Advisory Committee constituted for such a purpose.
Products that fall under the scope of both the safety and energy efficiency requirements of VCs require two separate LOAs. The LOAs are valid for three years and may be extended on the further application for renewal before expiry.
LOA Fees and Revoking of Approvals
The fees for LOAs are gazetted from time to time. Any approvals issued by the regulator may be suspended/withdrawn/revoked if the conditions of issuance are violated or are not maintained.
The Role of Inspectors
Market surveillance inspectors, deriving their powers from the NRCS Act, Act 5 of 2008, as amended, conduct inspections on the market to verify compliance to the requirements of the relevant VCs. Where non-compliant products are found on the market the inspectors are empowered to issue the appropriate sanctions in accordance with the enabling legislation, to prevent such products from entering the market, thus protecting the health and safety of consumers.
The Inspection Process
In the process of conducting inspections, samples of products may be taken from the market for check testing or to be kept as evidence. The sampled products are tested at Third Party accredited conformity assessment bodies to verify compliance. The inspection process may include but is not limited to, the verification of the approval status of the products in question, conducting visual inspections in accordance with the requirements of the VC, verification of levies due to the regulator, and the evaluation of any relevant documentation that may be requested by the inspector, to assess conformity with the requirements.
Ports of Entry Inspections
For all inquiries in terms of the port of entry stoppages that may be imposed, the regulator would generally request the listed documents, which should be forwarded to the region where the stoppages/detentions were imposed:
- SAD 500
- Bill of entry (Harbour stoppage)/ Waybill (airport stoppage)
- Commercial Invoice
- Packing list
- Photos of the product
- Technical specification of the product.
- IEC Electrical Safety Test Report
- The container number/Waybill number should occupy the subject line of your email correspondence.
The profiler will review the documents and advise on the required action. The email addresses to be utilized for stoppages or enquiries on electrical and electronic products or components at the respective ports of discharge are given below.
- Port of discharge Cape Town: CPTDOCUMENTS@nrcs.org.za
- Port of discharge Durban: email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org
- Port of discharge Port Elizabeth: PEDOCUMENTS@nrcs.org.za
- Port of discharge Gauteng: GPPROFILE1@nrcs.org.za