What is the difference between the UL, NRTL, and ETL safety standards?

Both marks demonstrate that the product that bears it has met the minimum requirements of widely accepted product safety standards as determined through the independent testing of a Nationally Recognized Testing Laboratory (NRTL). And, as part of that testing regimen, the product manufacturer has agreed to periodic follow-up inspections to verify continued compliance. So, the only real difference between the marks is in the service, and services, of the testing laboratory behind them. It's here that ITS ETL SEMKO's clients enjoy the real differences between UL and ETL. ETL custom-tailored testing, quick turnarounds, and flexible work methods are literally changing the face of the industry by promoting an environment where the testing lab and product manufacturer work more collaboratively - bringing products to market more quickly, more smoothly, and more cost-effectively than ever before.

What exactly is an NRTL?

Simply put, a Nationally Recognized Testing Laboratory (NRTL) is an independent laboratory recognized by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to test products to the specifications of applicable product safety standards - such as those from Underwriters Laboratories (UL) and other standards-writing bodies. An NRTL's function is to provide an independent evaluation, testing and certification of any electrically operated or gas- and oil-fired product. ITS ETL SEMKO is recognized as an NRTL in the United States and, in a similar capacity, as a Testing Organization (TO) and Certifying Body (CB) in Canada, and as a Notified Body in Europe.

What are the specifics of the NRTL program?

The NRTL program is part of OSHA's Directorate of Technical Support. As part of OSHA's directive to ensure products are safe for use in the U.S. workplace, the NRTL program recognizes the capabilities of private sector organizations to determine if specific products meet consensus safety standards. OSHA safety standards are United States law and can be found in Title 29 of the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR). More specifically, the provisions for NRTL certification can be found within Part 1910 of the CFR (29 CFR Part 1910). It is important to note that OSHA's recognition of an NRTL is not a grant of government authority, but rather an acknowledgment of the organization's ability to perform product safety testing and certification within the scope of its OSHA recognition. For more information about the NRTL program, readers are encouraged to visit the OSHA Web site at

Aren't manufacturers required to use UL for their compliance testing? Isn't this mandated by the standards themselves?

The simple answer to both questions is "no." In fact, this misconception has misled many manufacturers to believe that they don't have a choice in their third-party testing partner. To satisfy the prerequisite of having products tested by an independent organization, the true legal requirement is that the laboratory which performs the testing is a Nationally Recognized Testing Laboratory (NRTL) recognized by OSHA. ITS ETL SEMKO is recognized worldwide as a competent testing, inspection and certification organization, and the ETL Listed Mark serves as proof of product compliance with national standards.

What does the ETL Listed Mark mean when displayed on a product?

In short, the ETL Listed Mark indicates that the product has been tested by ITS ETL SEMKO, found in compliance with accepted national standards, and meets the minimal requirements required for sale or distribution. To distributors, retailers, and customers, the ETL Mark means they are purchasing a compliant product - tested and certified by a third-party organization.

Which retailers carry products bearing the ETL Listed Mark?

Many of the most popular and widely recognized retailers in the country accept the ETL Listed Mark as an alternative to UL. These retailers include - but are not limited to - the following:
• Amway Corporation
• Best Products Co., Inc.
• JC Penney
• SAM's Club
• Sears, Roebuck and Co.
• Service Merchandise
• ShopKo Stores, Inc.
• Target Stores

What products bear the ETL Listed Mark?

ITS ETL SEMKO provides a broad range of product safety testing and certification services for companies spanning multiple industries, markets, and applications. As such, the products bearing the ETL Listed mark run the gamut - from air conditioners to x-ray equipment. A small sampling of clients includes the companies listed below.
• Apple Computer
• AT&T
• Conair Corp.
• Dell Computer
• Electrolux
• Ericsson
• General Electric
• Panasonic
• Philips
• Pioneer
• Radio Shack

What countries accept the ETL Mark?

The ETL Mark is an accepted demonstration of product compliance in both the United States and Canada. However, it is important to note that through the scope of worldwide accreditations, ITS ETL SEMKO is authorized to furnish the product safety marks required for sale and distribution in other countries. Such marks as the NOM Mark, CE Mark, GS Mark, and S (Semko) Mark, to name a few.

Do local inspectors know the ETL Listed Mark?

The ETL Listed Mark is recognized by local inspectors and Authorities Having Jurisdiction (AHJs) throughout North America and also in some areas of South America. Again, as ITS ETL SEMKO is an NRTL recognized by OSHA, the ETL Listed Mark is an accepted alternative to UL and, as such, inspectors and AHJs are required by law to recognize, acknowledge, and accept the mark as proof of product compliance.