What is the NFC Forum Certification Program?
With the certification application you need to submit the relevant documents (usually provided by the Authorized Test Lab) that prove that your device has passed the certification tests. If all submitted documents have been verified to be complete and correct, you will receive your product’s approved certification certificate via email within five (5) business days. If the submitted documentation is incorrect or incomplete the NFC Forum Certification Administrator will contact you as soon as possible after the submission of the application.
A schedule of the fees involved in Certification is located at the Certification Fees page. Note that the costs of the test in the NFC Forum Authorized Test Lab are not included in this schedule.
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. See the steps to Certification to learn more. Read the Certification Mark Guidelines which describe how to use the Certification Mark correctly.
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.
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 always interoperate successfully. Certification provides the foundation for device interoperability.
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.
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 once or twice a year in different regions across the globe. Plugfests are open to non-members of the NFC Forum, as well as to members. However, your organization must be a member of the NFC Forum to certify your product/solution.
The NFC Forum Plugfest events are designed to support early adoption of the NFC Forum specifications by providing a safe, real-world environment where NFC Forum Devices 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 with other NFC-enabled devices, whether or not the device has completed the certification process. Although optional, Plugfests are part of a comprehensive integrated effort that reduces risk and the investment required in adopting new technology.
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 determining conformance, the Certification Program ensures 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.
*Note: There are different types of devices such as universal, reader/writer and tags.
Why Should We Certify Our Products?
Yes, tag manufacturers may certify the combination of the antennae and IC. NFC Forum Tag Certification confirms that tags conform with NFC Forum specifications, which are the most broadly supported tags in the industry and attain test evidence that is preferred and/or required by other NFC Forum partner organizations. For information on why you should certify your tags, visit the Tag Certification Overview page.
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.
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 use is granted to NFC Forum Members once an NFC-enabled device implementation has successfully completed the NFC Forum Certification process, accepted the NFC Forum Certification Mark License Agreement, and paid the $1,000 Certification Mark License fee. This is a one-time fee per registered organization regardless of the number of products your company will certify.
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 advance its promotion.
Certification is 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 goes through certification testing, because the Certification Program certifies products, not companies.
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.
- The ability to proudly 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.
How Does the Certification Program Work?
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.
Yes, in some cases 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.
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.
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.
Yes, as long as the product does not change. The NFC Forum certifies products for life.
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 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.
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 of end products. Test Groups are specified in the Test Case Categories List (TCCL).
A Test Release is a package of updates to the Test Specifications that is issued periodically.
When the NFC Forum publishes new versions of its Technical Specifications, they are collected into a Technical Specification Release that represents a stable set of features across all specifications of that release.
The certification requirements for the Technical Specifications is defined in the NFC Forum Device Requirements document that defines which Technical Specifications apply, and the detailed requirements that a conformant product must meet in order to be certified.
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 usually given an 18-month grace period before it expires 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.
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.
There are six steps to the certification process: Join, Prepare, Report, Apply, and Promote. For process details visit the Certification Program Overview page.
A new version of the Devices 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(s) are ready
- Test tools are validated with the new feature
Authorized test labs are able to test the new feature