FCC Testing Requirements For Your Product

Written By: Thomas T. Smith

Thomas is the Vice-President of EMC Test Services at LSR. Tom has over 13 years of experience in EMC/RF Testing Testing on a variety of products in the Industrial, Commercial and Medical Industry. Tom received a BS in Biomedical Engineering from the Milwaukee School of Engineering (MSOE) in 2000 and is an active member and contributor in IEEE.

We are often asked: “What are the FCC’s testing requirements for my product?”

The FCC has defined three categories of equipment approval for Part 15 devices: Verification, Declaration of Conformity (DoC) and Certification. All products that fall within these three categories require testing. Each category presents its own challenges.

FCC Compliance Testing Verification

Verification testing is the method of approval for products such as Class B external switching power supplies and Class A or B digital devices that are not PC-related. Verification testing ensures that the manufacturer’s product meets the FCC’s technical requirements. The manufacturer must also ensure that subsequent manufactured equipment continues to meet the requirements and is the same as the original unit tested. Verification testing can be performed at a non-accredited laboratory.

FCC Testing Declaration of Conformity

Products stating conformance with FCC rules using a Declaration of Conformity (DoC) must be tested at an ISO Guide 17025-accredited laboratory. In the U.S., such laboratories are audited by NVLAP and A2LA. As with the verification process, the manufacturer must maintain a file containing all test results and product documentation. Along with the documentation file, the manufacturer creates the Declaration of Conformity stating that all information in the documentation packet is accurate and up to date. A representative of the manufacturer signs the DoC, and it is placed in the documentation file. Unlike the Certification process, though, the DoC does not require formal filing of the documentation with the FCC or any other certification body.

FCC Testing Certification

Product Certification is the most detailed and formal process imposed by the FCC. Testing is required and must be performed by an accredited laboratory. Products that require Certification include Bluetooth devices, ZigBee radios, WLAN, and most other intentional radiators. After testing is completed, a formal filing is presented to a Telecommunication Certification Body (TCB) or directly to the FCC. The documentation filing for Certification is more in-depth than for the DoC. The submitted documentation file includes block diagrams, theory of operation, schematics, a formal test report, and other documents, depending on the type of equipment tested. After reviewing the filing, the FCC or TCB will issue a Grant of Authorization; each product is then identified by an FCC ID number. Portions of this number are specific not only to the product but also to the manufacturer.

In summary, most devices require testing (in most cases by an accredited laboratory) and some form of documentation to support the test results. Intentional radiators require the most documentation and must be certified by the FCC before the Grant of Authorization is provided to allow sale of the product. In all cases, product conformance (providing and maintaining compliance of the product) is the manufacturer’s responsibility.

Contact LSR to find out about FCC testing facility locations and costs today