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What Does the CE Mark Mean, and What is its Purpose?

CE Marking Examples What Does the CE Mark Mean, and What is its Purpose?

The author answers the question of what does the CE Mark means, what its purpose is related to medical devices and regulatory requirements, if applicable.

To facilitate trade throughout the European Economic Area (EEA), products need to be identified as compliant with regional and national regulations. In the EEA, this identification is the CE Mark. “CE” is not an acronym. The mark indicates compliance of your product with the essential requirements in the applicable directive. In the case of medical devices, there are three directives:

  1. Medical Device Directive, 93/42/EEC (,
  2. Active Implantable Medical Devices Directive, 90/385/EEC (
  3. In Vitro Diagnostics Directive, 98/79/EC (

Prior to the existence of these three directives, medical devices were compliant with the regulations of individual member states. These regulations were extremely detailed and created a barrier to the transport of products between the member states. With the implementation of the new approach directive (, companies were able to CE Mark medical devices in accordance with one of the three device directives, and medical device products began to flow smoothly throughout the EEA.

Notified Body Numbers

The images at the top of this blog posting are examples of CE Marks from two of the largest medical device Notified Bodies. The four-digit numbers identify the Notified Body (NB) that issued the CE Certificate for the medical device. This number is only used for medical devices requiring NB involvement. Therefore, non-sterile Class I medical devices that do not have a measurement function are required only to have the “CE” on their labeling. All other medical devices are required to have the “CE” with the NB four-digit number. If one of the Competent Authorities (CAs), the equivalent to the U.S. FDA in each member state, wants to determine which Notified Body is authorizing the CE Marking of a medical device, the CA will look-up the four-digit number on the following NB database (

How to Reproduce the Mark

It is the legal manufacturer’s responsibility to design their labeling with the CE and NB number—if applicable. This labeling is included in the company’s Technical File, and the NB reviews the Technical File for compliance with the essential requirements in one of the three device directives. For medical devices, the instructions for CE Marking are defined in Annex XII of 93/42/EEC. For active implantable devices, the requirements are found in Annex 9 of 90/385/EEC. For in vitro diagnostic devices, the requirements for CE Marking are found in Annex X of Directive 98/79/EC.

These three Annexes are identical and provide a graduated drawing showing the exact proportions of the “C” and “E” relative to one another. These Annexes also state that “”The various components of the CE marking must have substantially the same vertical dimension, which may not be less than 5 mm.”” You can obtain a free download of the mark on the Europa website (

The four-digit NB number is intended to be the same boldness and font as the “”CE”” characters. Therefore, NBs have interpreted the requirement to specify numbers that are at least half the height of the “C” and “E”—or at least 2.5 mm. Each NB also provides instructions to legal manufacturers on how to present the CE characters with their four-digit NB number. Usually, there are a couple of different orientations that are allowed by the NB. For small products, it may not be possible to mark the device with a “C” and “E” that is at least 5 mm. Therefore, the directives waive this minimum dimension for small-scale devices. Most companies, however, will place a “C” and “E” on their labeling that is at least 5 mm in height, instead of marking parts with a “CE” that is illegible.

Use and Misuse of CE Marking

Most companies want to use CE Marking on all product labeling, even for products sold outside the EEA, because other countries recognize it and associate it with safety and performance. It is also acceptable to use the “CE” in product literature. However, it is important that it appears next to product images or descriptions that have a valid CE Certificate. It is not acceptable to use the “CE” in a way that it might imply that other products have a CE Certificate when the products do not. It is also not acceptable to use the “CE” in a way that it might imply a corporate entity is “CE Marked.” CE Certificates are for products—not for companies.

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