NFC Forum Certification Program FAQs

What is the NFC Forum Certification Program?

What is the Certification Program and what is its purpose?

The NFC Forum Certification Program provides manufacturers with a means of establishing that their products conform to the NFC Forum Technical Specifications. Certification is granted through a top-notch testing process for implementations that meet NFC Forum Device Requirements. By ensuring conformance, the Certification Program provides for consistency in the behavior of compliant devices, thereby setting the foundation for interoperability.

The Certification Program provides differentiation for NFC Forum members by shortening the product adoption process, lowering adoption costs, and making product implementations easier for partners to integrate.

How does the Certification Program fit within the Compliance Program?

Certification is one part of the NFC Forum Compliance Program, which was established to encourage and facilitate development and increase market availability of products that exemplify high-level compliance with NFC Forum specifications, thereby assuring interoperability between manufacturers.
Together, the components of the Compliance Program form the foundation for a gold standard in NFC implementations and support the goal of achieving interoperability. By participating in the NFC Forum Compliance Program, NFC Forum members establish confidence and credibility in the technology for everyone in the value chain, enabling a flourishing NFC ecosystem.

The Certification Program is complemented by optional interoperability testing events called Plugfests, which are held several times a year in different regions. Plugfests are open to non-members of the NFC Forum, as well as to members.

The NFC Forum Plugfest events are designed to support early adoption of the NFC Forum specifications by providing a safe, real-world environment where device, tag, and test tool interoperability can be verified across manufacturers’ products.

The NFC Forum recommends that you attend Plugfests to test the interoperability of your products, whether or not they have completed the certification process, with other NFC-enabled devices. Although optional, Plugfests are part of a comprehensive integrated effort that reduces risk and the investment required in adopting new technology.

What does Certification mean?

A certified device has been tested by an NFC Forum Authorized Test Lab according to detailed protocols and has been found to comply with NFC Forum specifications, which ensures a level of interoperability among devices. Certification enables manufacturers to establish, by means of a top-notch testing process, that their products conform to the NFC Forum’s published specifications.

Will all certified NFC-enabled devices work together?

A certified device must comply with NFC Forum specifications, and this ensures a certain level of device interoperability, but certification does not guarantee that all certified devices will interoperate successfully.
Certification provides the foundation for device interoperability.

Can anyone certify products?

The NFC Forum Certification Program is open to NFC Forum members only. The NFC Forum has an entry-level Implementer membership targeted to companies that plan to implement the standards and certify products.

What is the NFC Forum Certification Mark?

The NFC Forum Certification Mark is an industry-facing logo that signifies global credibility and is an indicator that an implementation has met the standards of the NFC Forum Compliance Program.
The NFC Forum Certification Mark may be used on product packaging, websites, sales materials, and documentation, to indicate that a product has met the standards of the NFC Forum Compliance Program. Use of the Certification Mark is granted to NFC Forum members once the NFC Forum Certification process is completed. Specific guidelines describe how to use the Certification Mark correctly.

What does Certification cost?

A schedule of the fees involved in Certification is located at http://nfc-forum.org/our-work/compliance/certification-program/certification-fee-new/. Note that test lab costs are not included in this schedule.

 

Why Should We Certify Our Products?

What are the benefits of certifying our NFC products?

Benefits to your company of product certification include:

  • Attracting customers who prefer to purchase a certified product over a non-certified product
  • Differentiating your products from uncertified products, thus offering a potential commercial advantage
  • Providing test evidence that is preferred and/or required by other NFC Forum partner organizations
  • Listing your product on the certified product register on the public NFC Forum website
  • Increasing the likelihood that your product will interoperate with other NFC-Forum Certified Devices
  • Increasing the possibility that other NFC ecosystem players may develop applications for your device
  • Authorizing ability to display the NFC Forum Certification Mark on your website, sales material, and packaging

NFC Forum Certification provides differentiation for NFC Forum members by shortening the product adoption process, lowering adoption costs, and making product implementations easier for partners to integrate.

Is Certification required if we say that our products employ NFC?

Certification is always optional, but you cannot claim that a product is NFC-Forum-compliant if you do not complete certification for that product. Even if other products from your company have been certified, the NFC Forum strongly recommends that every NFC-enabled product go through certification testing, because the Certification Program certifies products, not companies.

How will customers know that our products are certified?

All certified products are publicly listed in a registry maintained by the NFC Forum, to which you should direct your customers and suppliers. Additionally, after your product is certified, you should use the NFC Forum Certification Mark on your product packaging, websites, marketing materials, manuals, etc. to add credibility to your product and its promotion.

What is the Certification Mark? How do I use it?

The NFC Forum Certification Mark is an industry-facing logo.

The Certification Mark can be displayed on collateral, sales materials, websites, product packaging, and documentation to signify a product meets global standards and establish credibility across the NFC ecosystem that products will perform consistently

The Certification Mark should not be used on a device

Instead, you may place the NFC Forum’s N-Mark on a device to indicate the availability of NFC services at the touchpoint where users can activate them.

What is the N-Mark? How do I use it?

The N-Mark is the most visible and identifiable symbol of NFC technology and should be treated with care so as not to disrupt this instant recognition. In a crowded marketplace, a strong brand identity will set NFC technology apart. It will distinguish this proven platform and earn the trust and confidence of manufacturers, retailers, members, and consumers alike.

For guidance on how to use the N-Mark, please consult the N-Mark Usage Guidelines. The N-Mark brand logo and supporting assets files are available for download upon signing the N-Mark Trademark License Agreement. The N-Mark may be used regardless of certification.

Should we certify our tags?

At this time, the NFC Forum does not have a certification program for tags. We do, however, test aspects of tag operation. An NFC Forum Certified Device’s reader and writer functionality is tested as part of the Certification Program, which ensures that those portions of tag communication interoperate with an NFC Forum specified tag.
The Forum has specified five tag types that can be used with NFC-enabled devices.

 

How Does the Certification Program Work?

What is included in the Certification Program?

Today, the NFC Forum Certification Program ensures compliance with the lower layers, including analog, digital protocol, tag operations, LLCP, and activity specifications.

What is the correlation between Device Requirement document releases and Certification and Test Releases?

A new version of the Device Requirements can trigger product hardware and software changes. Testing for the new feature(s) will be announced and activated via a Certification Release.
Testing documents via Test Releases are published periodically (~1 / year) and may include new tests, updates to existing tests, or clarifications.
New feature testing will be added to the Certification Program via a new Certification Release only when:

  • Test specs for the new feature are ready
  • Test tools are validated with the new feature
  • Authorized test labs are able to test the new feature

What is the process for certifying our products?

There are three phases to the certification process:

  • Planning: prepare by learning about the NFC Forum Device Requirements, understanding the rules for certifying, and deciding which Release you will certify to
  • Testing: to verify that your product complies with the NFC Forum specifications, you should now select an authorized test lab and submit your product for testing, then assemble the package of certification documents when testing is completed
  • Reporting: register your company with the Certification Administrator, execute the required legal agreements, and submit your application along with the appropriate fees

The Certification Administrator will inform you of the outcome of your submission. For more details about the Certification System itself, refer to the system’s Frequently Asked Questions.

Are there NFC Forum-authorized Test Labs? Can my company become one?

Yes, there are authorized test laboratories in different regions of the world. They are listed at http://nfc-forum.org/our-work/compliance/certification-program/labs-test-tools/authorized-test-labs/. Instructions for applying to be an authorized test laboratory are also posted.

What is a Certification Release?

When the NFC Forum publishes new versions of its specifications, we will collect them into consistent sets to aid product procurement, development, and certification. Each set is called a Certification Release. A Certification Release’s applicable specifications are documented in Device Requirements documents. Certification Releases are issued at intervals, and a grace period applies before all products must be certified to a new release. (To receive notifications about new Certification Releases and other information about the Certification Program, interested parties are invited to join the Certification mailing list from the link on our website.)
For example, when new Certification Release Y is introduced, Certification Release X, its predecessor, is given an 18-month grace period before it sunsets and Certification Release Y is required. During this 18-month period, manufacturers can apply for Certification under either Certification Release X or Y, but when the 18 months ends, certification may no longer be done using Certification X. The timeline is represented graphically in the figure below.

NFC-Forum-Certification-Timeline-v02

What is a Test Release?

A Test Release is a package of updates to the Test Specifications that is issued periodically.

What are Test Groups?

A Test Group is a set of test cases grouped together by the NFC Forum to be the smallest unit available to deal with inheritance of test results. These are categorized and organized based on functionality in end products. Test Groups are specified in the Test Case Categories List (TCCL).

If we revise or update our product, do we have to re-certify it?

The NFC Forum grants certification for the life of a product. A manufacturer should carefully assess any change to a certified implementation to evaluate the impact of the change upon NFC functionality. Any change to a certified product that has a significant risk of changing its conformance to NFC Forum specifications, or of changing the results of any tests, will require retesting.
If changes affect a product’s RF functionality, such as an updated antenna, re-certification is automatically required. Note that if a product requires re-testing, you may accomplish it using the same or a subsequent version of the Test Specification originally used. You may also reuse partial test results where you haven’t made changes to the original product.

Will my product remain certified after a Certification Release sunsets?

Yes, as long as the product does not change. The NFC Forum certifies products for life.

What if Test Releases change, will I need to re-test my implementation?

Products already certified and their derivatives are not affected by subsequent changes to Test Specifications or publication of new Test Releases, and re-testing is not required when a new version of a Test Specification is issued.

If my certified product gets a name change or is re-branded by an OEM, does it need to be re-certified?

If the NFC Forum Certification Mark is to be used in relation to such a product, or the product is to be listed in the Certification Register, then the product must be certified in its own right. However, generally speaking, repeating the Certification Testing is not required in these cases: certification may be obtained by inheriting test results from the certification of the parent.

Can a new product that includes a part or portion of a previously certified implementation inherit that certification, or must the full product be re-tested?

Yes, in some circumstances certification can be inherited. Requirements for including a certified implementation in a secondary product include:

  • Inheritance of test results from a previously certified implementation is allowed for Digital Protocol, Logical Link Control Protocol (LLCP), and Simple NDEF Exchange Protocol (SNEP) testing.
  • Inheritance of Analog test results from a previously certified implementation is NOT allowed.

What happens when I implement a feature defined in a new version of the Device Requirements that is not in a Certification Release?

  • Note that nothing prevents a manufacturer from implementing a new feature even if it will not be tested during certification. Assuming backwards compatibility of the testing, the product can be certified to the currently available Certification Release.
  • Early adopters of new features are encouraged to support the certification program by making samples available for test tool validation and participating in Plugfest events.

 

What Is Changing in the Certification Program for 2016?

What are the differences in the Certification Policy Version 1.5 as compared to the previous version?

The NFC Forum added new capability to Certification Policy Version 1.5 including:

  • Added “Device Class” to the Certification Program Registry in order to enable certification for multiple device types (devices are defined in DEVREQ)
  • Introduced “Test Tracks.”  A Test track is used to group conformance and/or interoperability tests into groups. In order to support devices supporting varying levels of functionality in the future, test tracks were made to encompass those subsets of functionality.
  • Extended the scope of the NFC Forum Compliance Program to add the ability to verify features utilizing interoperability testing
    • Added “Testbed” as a type of Test Tool to enable interoperability testbeds
  • The ability for members to create a New Test Item Work Request Form and submit it for addition to the Certification Program

Why were these changes made?

The changes are based on feedback about the Certification Program received from NFC Forum member companies. Other changes were made to deliver greater efficiency and planning opportunities to all Certification Program participants.

When will the new policy take effect? How will grace periods be affected?

The new Certification policy goes into effect on July, 2016. There is no effect on Certification Release grace periods.

Do we have to re-certify our products under the new policy, if they were already certified?

Products already certified do not need to be re-certified. Note that if you make changes to an implementation such that re-testing is required, then the new implementation will be certified according to the new Certification Policy.

How does this affect test labs and test tool vendors?

The new policy has no effect on existing test labs and test tool vendors.

How does this change in policy affect existing certifications?

The new policy has no effect on existing certifications.