C-Tick 2002: The Australian EMC Regulations Simplified

Updated EMC regulations in Australia and New Zealand provide greater flexibility for manufacturers.

C-Tick. The C-Tick is a certification trademark registered to ACA under the Trade Marks Act of 1995 and to RSM in New Zealand under Section 47 of the NZ Trade Marks Act (see Figure 1). The mark must be used in accordance with its governing regulations and is therefore only issued to an Australian or New Zealand-based supplier. The label is expected to be durable and limited in its size, scale, and color according to the regulations.

Figure 1. C-Tick certification mark.

A-Tick (Telecommunications Standards). All products subject to the Australian Telecommunications Labelling Notice must also meet the requirements of an EMC standard such as AS/NZS 3548 or AS/NZS CISPR 22. The A-Tick mark illustrates compliance with both the EMC and telecommunications requirements in Australia, but only with EMC requirements in New Zealand (see Figure 2). AS/NZS 3548 has been replaced with AS/NZS CISPR 22:2002. This standard incorporates CISPR 22:1997 and Amendment 1:2000. The requirements for conducted emissions on telecom ports have been deferred by the revised EMC regulations until November 2003.

Figure 2. A-Tick mark for telecommunications products.

RCM. The regulatory compliance mark (RCM) is a trademark owned by Australian and New Zealand regulators and alternatively signifies EMC compliance. Suppliers intending to use the RCM mark should register with Standards Australia (in accordance with AS/NZS 4417.1) and complete the application form in AS/NZS 4417.3. The RCM is not an alternative mark to the A-Tick telecommunications compliance mark.

In 2000, the Australian Communications Authority (ACA) convened an electromagnetic compatibility (EMC) review committee to discuss areas of deficiency identified during ACA's course of management as well as from industry submissions. Fifteen recommendations were considered, and the legal instrument was changed in late 2001 to accommodate the most important proposals. The most significant change was the adoption of the list of International Special Committee on Radio Interference (CISPR), European Committee for Electrotechnical Standardization (CENELEC), and International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) standards as mandatory ACA standards. This change better identifies the applicable mandatory standard for virtually any electrical product on the market.

The new regulations also harmonized the Australian and New Zealand EMC requirements under the Trans-Tasman Mutual Recognition Arrangement (TTMRA). The aim of aligning compliance procedures was to remove barriers to trade between the two nations and effectively lessen costs by providing a mutually accepted and recognized route to product compliance.

After much consultation between ACA and the Radio Spectrum Management Group (RSM) of the New Zealand Ministry of Economic Development (NZMED), the Trans-Tasman EMC Compliance scheme was introduced. At this stage, the harmonized TTMRA scheme regulates only the EMC aspects of product compliance.

The C-Tick mark is valid for both countries and may be applied by either a New Zealand supplier or an Australian supplier. A parallel declaration of conformity (DoC) notification scheme is still available for New Zealand suppliers who do not wish to use the C-Tick mark. ACA and RSM plan to extend the scope of the TTMRA to include telecommunications and radiocommunications compliance. This article provides an overview of the new requirements, their enforcement, and penalties for noncompliance.

Evolution of the Australian EMC Compliance Scheme

In 1997, ACA introduced the EMC Compliance scheme, which was designed to limit the amount of electromagnetic interference to Australia's radiocommunications and radio-frequency (RF) spectrum. The scheme outlined compliance with technical limits for emissions from all electrical and electronic products marketed in Australia under the Radiocommunications Act of 1992.

ACA modified the scheme in 1998 in a bid to clarify its scope and application. The compliance scheme was based on a system of self-declaration, with the responsibility for compliance resting solely on the supplier.

Although the scheme was standards based, it was evident after implementation that the scope was not adequately defined for many products, and some loopholes became apparent.

In January 1999, the regulations were rewritten so that the scheme became totally standards based. If a product fell under the scope of one of the ACA mandatory EMC standards (and was not specifically excluded) then compliance with all the provisions of the C-Tick regulations was mandatory. The major problem faced by industry and suppliers was in determining the appropriate standard to apply. This standards-based approach eliminated many ambiguities, removed most loopholes, and clarified the scope of the regulations. However, vagaries in the scopes of some CISPR standards made it difficult for suppliers to decide which standard applied to their product.

The primary responsibility for enforcement of the EMC regulations now rests with ACA and RSM through the list of standards made under their respective legislative instruments. The EMC regulations apply to suppliers of a wide range of electrical and electronic products offered for sale in Australia and New Zealand. A supplier is defined as:

  • An Australian or New Zealand manufacturer who makes products for supply to the Australian or New Zealand market.
  • An importer of products intended for supply in Australia or New Zealand.
  • The authorized agent (resident in Australia or New Zealand) acting on behalf of a supplier of products to either country.

Under the TTMRA-harmonized EMC compliance scheme, all electrical and electronic products seeking approval for the Australian or New Zealand markets must comply with the applicable, mandated EMC emission standards, unless specifically excluded. All products must also comply with the electrical safety requirements of appropriate regulatory bodies. Mandatory immunity requirements are not covered within the scope of the existing scheme. Manufacturers are encouraged to consider immunity issues when designing products. (Immunity requirements are mandatory under other regulatory regimes such as the Therapeutic Goods Administration, Civil Aviation Safety Authority, and Defense).

ACA and RSM have mandated the following EMC aspects of the standards: EMC phenomena of emitted disturbances only associated with conducted (continuous and intermittent) RF disturbance or radiated RF disturbance, and test procedures and requirements associated with these EMC
phenomena. The standards are listed in Table I.

The regulations apply to all products that fall under the scope of one of the mandatory standards and operate from the domestic residential mains supply or from battery or similar supply. This modification brings previously exempt three-phase equipment into the scope of the regulations, but it exempts equipment that operates from a high-voltage supply.

Transitional Arrangements

The transitional arrangements for amendments or implementation of the standards are two years for IEC, CISPR, and AS/NZS standards at the time of publication. For EN standards, the transitional period is as published in the Official Journal of the European Communities. The transitional arrangement is the time period in which ACA and RSM recognize conformity to either the earlier or later version of the same standard for products supplied to the market. Upon expiry of the transitional period, ACA and RSM will recognize only the later version of a standard for compliance purposes with the EMC scheme.

EMC Compliance Arrangements

To comply with the EMC regulatory arrangements, Australian and New Zealand suppliers must satisfy four basic requirements:

  • Ensure that the product complies with the appropriate mandated EMC standard.
  • Make and hold a DoC.
  • Prepare and keep compliance records.
  • Label the product with the C-Tick mark.

Once these basic requirements have been satisfied, a product can be offered for sale without the involvement of ACA or RSM.

Compliance Levels

The EMC scheme defines three levels of compliance as well as requirements based on the risk of interference that may be expected from a product. Each compliance level has a series of requirements that are applicable for Australian and New Zealand suppliers.

Compliance Level 1. Level 1 covers products whose emissions are considered to have a low impact (minimal risk of interference) on devices using the RF spectrum. Level 1 products include products such as manually operated switches or simple relays, brushless squirrel-cage induction motors, and resistive elements.

Compliance Level 2. Level 2 covers products whose interfering emissions would have some impact on devices using the RF spectrum. Examples of these devices include the following:

  • A microprocessor or other clocked digital device.
  • A commutator or slip-ring motor.
  • Arc welding equipment.
  • Switched-mode power supplies.
  • Lighting dimmers.
  • Motor speed controllers.
Suppliers in Australia and New Zealand must ensure that products falling within this compliance level meet the appropriate EMC standard. For level 2, they must hold a compliance folder containing a product description, completed DoC, and an adequate EMC test report or technical construction file (TCF) that demonstrates compliance with the limit defined in the applicable EMC standard. Testing must be performed using the procedures specified by the standard. This change appears to disallow the use of precompliance test equipment and procedures.

Compliance Level 3. Level 3 covers products whose interfering emissions have the highest risk of serious impact on devices using the RF spectrum. Level 3 applies to devices that belong to the industrial, scientific, and medical (ISM) group 2 (CISPR 11) and telecommunications terminal equipment under information technology (CISPR 22). After November 2003, telecom equipment will be classified as compliance level 2.

Suppliers in Australia and New Zealand must ensure that products falling within this compliance level meet the appropriate EMC standard. For level 3 products, suppliers must hold a compliance folder containing a product description, completed DoC, and an accredited test report or TCF. The test report must be issued by a laboratory that is accredited by National Association of Testing Authorities (NATA), or a NATA MRA partner accreditation body. The laboratory's scope of accreditation must include all of the relevant clauses of the applicable version of AS/NZS 3548/CISPR 22/EN 55022 or AS/NZS 2064/CISPR 11/EN 55011.

The Declaration of Conformity

The DoC is a statement signed by the supplier certifying that the product has been tested and found to comply with any required standards. The supplier establishes the compliance folder after viewing evidence of compliance (i.e., one or more test reports outlining compliance margins). Although suppliers are not required to submit the product or proof of compliance to the regulatory bodies at this stage, they must retain a compliance folder containing the DoC and all required compliance records.

Required compliance records include test reports indicating compliance margins, a description of the product and all documentation that clearly identifies it (e.g., photographs, block diagrams, drawings, and circuit diagrams), and paperwork showing the product's brand name, model number, etc.

Compliance records, which must be in English, can be kept electronically. Records must be kept for five years after the product ceases to be supplied in Australia or New Zealand. Hard copies of compliance documentation must be made available to ACA or RSM for audit or investigation within 10 business days of a written request from the regulatory body.

A supplier must complete and retain a DoC every time a new product or model of a product is to be marketed. If a product has had changes that are either cosmetic or that do not alter its RF emission characteristics, then compliance is presumed under the DoC maintained for the earlier model. In situations where variants exist, the supplier must add a signed statement to the original compliance records outlining the changes made and the reasons for using a single DoC for marketing.


Although the EMC schemes in Australia and New Zealand have been harmonized, the categories for exemption are slightly different in each country.

Australia. Equipment that falls within the scope of other regulatory bodies is exempt from the EMC regulations in Australia. The Civil Aviation Safety Authority, for example, approves equipment related to avionics and ground facilities. Equipment used for military purposes is approved by the Department of Defence, and the Department of Transport and Regional Services regulates design safety codes for road-registrable vehicles. All devices that fall within the jurisdiction of the Therapeutic Goods Act are assessed by the Therapeutic Goods Administration. All devices used solely for law enforcement by the following agencies are exempt from the EMC regulations:

  • The Australian federal police.
  • A police force or service of a state or territory.
  • The National Crime Authority.
  • The New South Wales Crime Commission.
  • The New South Wales Independent Commission Against Corruption.
  • The Criminal Justice Commission of Queensland.
  • A prescribed authority established by or under law of the Commonwealth, a state, or territory.
  • A body or organization responsible to the Australasian Police Ministers' Council for the facilitation of national law-enforcement support.
  • In addition to the exemptions for these agencies, products that meet the following criteria are also excluded from the Australian EMC regulations:
  • Any product designed or adapted for the purpose of conducting any test, measurement, or study of electromagnetic phenomena in an educational, training, or research establishment.
  • Installations comprising two or more combined items of apparatus or systems put together at a given place to fulfill a specific objective, but not designed by the manufacturer for supply as a single functional unit.
  • Prototypes or products to be used for exhibition and demonstration purposes (e.g., at trade fairs).
  • Spare parts--a component or combination of components intended for use in replacing parts of electronic products.
  • Secondhand products previously sold in Australia, but not including modified products.
  • Products with a total power consumption of less than 6 nW.

Radiocommunications products are intentional radiators and, as such, are generally excluded from the EMC regulations. These products are covered by a different set of standards and compliance arrangements administered by ACA. It should be noted that carrier telecommunications equipment has been removed from the list of exempted devices and must now be C-Ticked.

New Zealand. In New Zealand, the administrative components of the EMC regulations do not apply in the following circumstances:

  • Products supplied in a total quantity of less than 10.
  • Some battery-powered products.
  • Prototypes for demonstration purposes.
  • Parts that will only perform a function when incorporated into a finished product.
  • Fixed installations, being a combination of parts, components, or products assembled and installed at a place of use in such a way that the combination cannot be moved without being at least partially disassembled.
  • Radiocommunications products (i.e., intentional radiators).
  • Military equipment or weapons systems of the New Zealand Defence Force.
  • Military equipment or weapons systems of the defense force of another country operating in cooperation with the New Zealand Defence Force.


The labeling of compliance level 1 products is voluntary (but compliance is still mandatory). All level 2 and level 3 products must be labeled appropriately before they can be marketed. The required label consists of either the C-Tick mark or its alternative, the regulatory compliance mark (RCM), or the A-Tick mark for telecommunications devices. In New Zealand, the A-Tick mark does not signify compliance with telecom standards as it does in Australia.

In addition to the relevant, applicable compliance mark, each label must also contain acceptable supplier identification. If it is not practical to attach a label to the exterior of a device, the label can be attached in the following order:

  1. To the outer surface of the packaging; or if impractical
  2. To instructions for use; or if impractical
  3. To guarantee or certificates.
These options can only be used with the written permission of ACA or RSM. A valid reason must be given to explain why it is not practical to label the product itself.

Supplier Identification. In addition to one of the marks, product labels must also include the identification of the manufacturer, importer, or agent. In Australia, one of the following must be on the label:

  • A business name and address in Australia.
  • A business name registered on the national business register.
  • A personal name and address in Australia of the place of business.
  • An Australian company name (ACN).
  • An Australian registered body number (ARBN).
  • An Australian business number (ABN).
  • An Australian registered trademark.
  • The supplier code number issued by ACA (on application).

In New Zealand, one of the following options must appear on the label:

  • The registered name and address of the licensee.
  • A New Zealand company number of the licensee.
  • A New Zealand registered trademark of the licensee.
  • A registered goods and services tax (GST) number.
  • The supplier code number issued by RSM (on application).

Compliance via Testing

All devices covered under compliance level 2 must show compliance with the EMC regulations; however, it is not mandatory for suppliers to obtain a test report from an accredited test laboratory. ACA and RSM have stated that because an accredited test laboratory constitutes a high-confidence, low-risk approach to compliance, an accredited report will not generally be challenged.

Suppliers wishing to market devices covered under compliance level 3 must use accredited test laboratories, and the report must be covered by the specific scope of the accreditation. Such devices can only be declared on the basis of a NATA- or NATA MRA­endorsed test report or on the basis of a TCF.

ACA and RSM use laboratories accredited by either NATA or by the International Accreditation New Zealand (IANZ) as the benchmark for compliance testing. In the event of a product's conformity being called into question, ACA and RSM will accept NATA, IANZ, or MRA-equivalent endorsed reports to determine whether a product complies. If a supplier chooses a nonaccredited route to compliance, additional proof of compliance could be requested by the regulatory bodies.

Test Reports. It is not mandatory for suppliers to hold original test reports. A copy of the original report is acceptable provided that it is clear and legible. A scanned copy of the original report can be stored electronically, but a hard copy must be presented to the regulatory body upon request.

Test reports from other countries are accepted as long as compliance is shown to the appropriate standard and limits and the copy retained in the compliance records is in English.

Compliance via TCF

In cases in which it is difficult or impractical to test a product in a laboratory, the TCF allows suppliers to achieve compliance with EMC regulations by an alternative route. A supplier may choose the TCF route when:

  • Testing is impractical because of either the product's physical characteristics or its location.
  • Products are marketed as a large number of variants.
  • A supplier holds technical information that can be used to demonstrate compliance with the applicable standards.

Product suppliers must prepare a TCF that includes information such as technical specifications, descriptions, EMC design techniques, and other relevant technical information. The completed TCF is submitted to a competent body, which then issues a technical assessment of the product based on the information supplied. If the competent body agrees with the conclusion of the TCF, it will issue a report that verifies the claims of compliance by the manufacturer.

The competent body does not assume responsibility for the product's compliance but rather verifies (or disputes) the supplier's claims of conformity. An application to a competent body must be in writing, and all the relevant information must be supplied. A TCF should contain:

  • A signed statement by the competent body.
  • An adequate description of the product.
  • A technical rationale for the use of the TCF route.
  • A statement of the steps taken to manage the emissions characteristics of the product, including reference to standards applied in part or in full.
  • A technical description of the product.
  • All technical reports relevant to the product.
  • Any reports issued by the competent body.

Competent Body Requirements. A competent body must be accredited by NATA to the requirements of EN 45004 as an inspection body that assesses TCFs for compliance against the specific standards mandated by the EMC Framework. Unlike the European EMC Directive, the EMC Framework does not have essential requirements per se. Compliance can only be demonstrated by complying with the limits of the applicable mandatory standards.

To that end, compliance with CE mark requirements by itself does not signify C-Tick compliance. Under the European Union­Australia/New Zealand MRA, European conformity assessment bodies must be specifically accredited against the requirements of the Australian and New Zealand EMC regulations and standards.

Enforcement of Regulations

Although EMC compliance is based on self-regulation, ACA and RSM provide a rigorous supplier audit and market surveillance. ACA or RSM provide 10 days written notice to suppliers of their intention to audit the compliance information. After ACA or RSM inspects the compliance documentation, the regulatory bodies may request additional information deemed important.

If the compliance of a product is questionable, ACA and RSM may request that the supplier provide three random samples of the product, chosen by the inspector, for assessment by a NATA-accredited test laboratory. A supplier is selected for audit in several ways, including random selection from the database or because a written complaint was received. In addition, products may be identified at retail outlets or through advertising material. A complaint of interference to communications could also trigger an audit.

Offenses against the regulations include using the C-Tick mark without authorization, supplying unlabeled products, and supplying or labeling noncompliant products. Making a false declaration or failing to establish and maintain compliance records also constitutes noncompliance.


Offense provisions are enforced under various acts to assist in maintaining and enforcing the compliance requirements. Suppliers are encouraged to abide by the compliance regulations. Those who do not comply face a series of penalties. Penalties invoked by the regulatory authorities include:

  • Prohibiting the supply of products until the interference problem is corrected.
  • Seizure and forfeiture of stock in Australia or compulsory recall in New Zealand.
  • Penalties payable in lieu of prosecution (on-the-spot fines) in Australia or infringement offense and fine in New Zealand.
  • Prosecution.
  • Fines.

Fines issued by ACA and RSM can range from on-the-spot fines to prosecution via the courts. For example, for violation of Section 186, Radiocommunications Act (sale of device without C-Tick label), the penalty for an individual is $11,000, and for a corporation, the penalty is $55,000. For breaching Section 160, Radiocommunications Act (supply of nonstandard equipment), the penalty for an individual is $13,000 (maximum). For a corporation, it is $160,000 (maximum). These fines are via prosecution only; no on-the-spot fines are given for this violation. Failure to comply with a direction given by an ACA inspector is a violation of Section 40 of the Radiocommunications Regulations. The penalty (in lieu of prosecution) is $1100 for an individual and $5500 for a corporation.


The Australian EMC regulations have been updated to rectify administrative and technical problems that became apparent after implementation of the earlier versions of the EMC Framework. The scope of the regulations has been better defined and has been extended to include some previously exempted devices and three-phase equipment.

The compliance requirements for importers and exporters have been greatly simplified by the adoption of virtually all CISPR, IEC, and CENELEC emission standards. The inclusion of the CISPR, IEC, and EN standards in the list of mandatory ACA standards now provides greater clarity and flexibility for manufacturers and suppliers that are faced with EMC compliance.

** This article was taken from here and re-arranged. (http://www.ce-mag.com/archive/02/Spring/zombolas.html)