What is a Nationally Recognized Testing Laboratory (NRTL)?

Learn all about Nationally Recognized Testing Laboratories (NRTLs), why they are important, which products need certification, and how to apply as an NRTL.

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What is a Nationally Recognized Testing Laboratory (NRTL)?

A Nationally Recognized Testing Laboratory or NRTL is an independent testing laboratory certified by the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA). These laboratories test certain products to ensure that they meet the safety standards applicable to the product. An NRTL is in place to provide an independent evaluation and testing of certain products and certify them to show that the products have met all the relevant safety standards set out by certain regulating bodies.

NRTLs certify products for the US market, so they adhere to relevant US standards. Having an NRTL certificate shows that your products have been deemed safe for the US market and that they comply with all the standards in place for that type of product.

What is the Purpose of an NRTL?

If you are distributing or producing specific products in the United States, you need NRTL certification. An NRTL is a testing body that inspects, evaluates, and certifies your products to ensure that you comply with all relevant safety standards before selling or distributing the products. If you distribute or produce products that require NRTL certification, you won’t be able to distribute them in the United States until they have been tested by an NRTL.

The main purpose of an NRTL is to ensure that products adhere to safety standards stated by different regulating bodies. These laboratories are completely independent of the organization that needs to test the products and of OSHA to ensure a fair and accurate evaluation.

To be certified as an NRTL, the laboratory has to apply for certification from OSHA and needs to meet certain requirements. If you have products that need NRTL certification before distribution, you may find all the authorized NRTLs in the United States here.

What Products Need NRTL Certification?

Many products in the United States would benefit from NRTL certification before distribution. One of the primary products that require this certification is electronics. All electronic products distributed in the US need an NRTL certification before distribution. So, if your company produces any electronic devices and you aim to distribute them in the US, you won’t be able to access the market unless you have NRTL certification.

Currently, OSHA has 18 different types of products that require NRTL certification. To view a full list of all the different products that need NRTL certification, you can refer to this page. Other common products that require NRTL certification before distribution include:

  • All electronic products and devices
  • Liquified Petroleum Gas (LPG) utilization equipment
  • Any piece of equipment used in hazardous locations (e.g., electrical equipment)
  • Fire detectors and fire extinguishing equipment

Failure to get NRTL certification for required products means customers and clients will not trust your product as much. OSHA cannot require NRTL certification as its jurisdiction only extends to employers. However, products without an NRTL aren’t as trusted as those that have NRTL certification.

A product that has received NRTL certification will bear a UL or CSA certification mark on the product, along with the specific laboratory that tested the product for compliance.

How to Get NRTL Certification

how to get nrtl certification

How to Get NRTL Certification

While NRTL certification isn’t required for many products in the United States, it’s crucial for organizations distributing these types of products to apply for certification before circulating the product, as it allows them to tap into a massive market and reach new customers.

To get NRTL certification, you first need to find the best NRTL near you. To do this, you can visit OSHA’s page of all NRTLs in the US and contact them. From there, the NRTL will inspect your manufacturing and quality control programs.

After inspecting the manufacturing programs, the laboratory will then proceed with testing the products to ensure they meet various safety procedures. Once the testing is completed, a technical certification from the lab will review the results before verifying the results.

If the product passes all the relevant tests and results have been certified, the technical certifier will issue the NRTL certificate. But even after attaining certification, the NRTL will conduct follow-up inspections to maintain the certificate’s validity.

To ensure that you pass relevant NRTL tests, it’s important to conduct in-house inspections and internal audits of manufacturing and testing of the products. That way, you are sure that the products will pass the NRTL evaluation and you will get your certificate.

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FAQs about Nationally Recognized Testing Laboratory (NRTL)

An NRTL refers to an OSHA-certified independent laboratory that can conduct safety tests and evaluations on certain products. Underwriter Laboratories (UL) is one of the oldest NRTLs in the country, which is why the term UL is used interchangeably with NRTL.

When a product is NRTL certified, it means that it passed all tests conducted by an NRTL to ensure that the product meets the relevant safety standards.

Any organization that conducts safety tests on products to ensure that they meet specific standards may apply to be recognized as an NRTL by OSHA. It’s important to ensure that any testing company you hire to evaluate your products is an NRTL certified by OSHA.

You can get an NRTL certification for your product from any NRTL in the United States. OSHA has a complete list of recognized NRTLs in the United States on its website.

Leon Altomonte
Article by
Leon Altomonte
Leon Altomonte is a content contributor for SafetyCulture. He got into content writing while taking up a language degree and has written copy for various web pages and blogs. Aside from working as a freelance writer, Leon is also a musician who spends most of his free time playing gigs and at the studio.