There are some electronics projects on Kickstarter. For being successfull, they offer buying the product worldwide.

I wonder how they are able to comply with all the local regulations, for example CE, FCC, ETL, CSA and so on...

For a small team of founders, it seems to be impossible to know all the regulations of all countries they sell the product to. I have not seen any Kickstarter project that restrict the states they are selling the product to.

Do they just ignore some local regulations? Is there a legal way to do it?


2 Answers 2


The entity buying the "product" is going to be the importer of record and, in the end, responsible for ensuring that their laws and regulations are met (and is also taking a risk that the product may be seized and not be allowed to cross their borders).

It's (usually) not illegal under local laws for, say, a North American to sell a non-conforming product, such as a lead-soldered doohickey to a person in France, but the customer may be breaking some regulations by importing it. Of course if the North American entity has a presence in France such as a sales office they may be subject to French law.

For example, when an electronic device is imported into the US, some couriers require a signed document explicitly stating the the recipient is responsible for FCC regulations (fines for even offering non-conforming products can be huge). The US is a bit more complex than some places because things vary significantly state-by-state rather than being uniform federal requirements. For example, energy efficiency standards imposed by California. Countries such as Canada would have regulations related to packaging and language (French manuals, for example) that are generally unenforced for small quantities and private importers.

I would say with Kickstarter, they appear to be generally ignoring (or possibly ignorant of) their own domestic regulations and requirements, let alone those that a multinational would have trouble wrestling with. I think I've seen one where UL listing was a stretch goal (and yes, I know, UL listing is not a legal requirement in the US, but for insurance it would be.. insurance, what's that?).

  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ Hahaha "UL listing as a stretch goal". Love it. \$\endgroup\$ Jan 10, 2015 at 19:49
  • \$\begingroup\$ This is correct, CE marking down to the importer. Enforcement of CE marking on random things going through EU customs is very sparse. The US doesn't have any equivalent of WEEE either, which is the other factor making a legal EU hardware kickstarter infeasible. \$\endgroup\$
    – pjc50
    Jan 10, 2015 at 19:58
  • \$\begingroup\$ So we just have to comply our local regulations (depending on the state we ship from)? \$\endgroup\$
    – Kevin X.
    Jan 17, 2015 at 9:48
  • \$\begingroup\$ @KevinX. I think it depends on what you are striving for. If it's merely to comply with the law, or to have 100% happy customers (sorry, 'supporters') or whatever. If you knowingly sell someone something they can't legally use in their are of residence there is at least an ethical issue (so I guess it pays to be ignorant). \$\endgroup\$ Jan 17, 2015 at 16:38
  • \$\begingroup\$ @SpehroPefhany I woudl like to have both. In the Kickstarter campaign, I would like to cover all the major issues, so customers will be generally OK when buying the product. But if someone from Comoros (small Africa state with under 1M people and low GDP per capita) wants to buy it, we can't ensure the law compliance for all such countries. I wanted to know if we have to exclude all such countries or if we can let users do it at their own risk. \$\endgroup\$
    – Kevin X.
    Jan 17, 2015 at 19:33

Some who don't know may ignore them, it wouldn't be the first time a startup ignored the regulations... They may have someone on their team who really does understand what it takes to sell in all those countries, you only need one of us for that. They might have a consultant, or they may come here asking us for help... :)

Most likely I'd say they build their product, put up a kick starter, and then figure they'll cross this bridge when they're successfully backed. That's how it's gone for the ones I've been involved with. Most seriously underestimate the cost involved with regulatory testing.


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