Manufacturers, distributors and other economic operators

For the purpose of distinguishing roles and obligations, the following economic operators are recognized by Construction Product Regulation 305/2011 (CPR):


legal definition:

“manufacturer” means any natural or legal person who manufactures a construction product or who has such a product designed or manufactured, and markets that product under his name or trademark

practical meaning and obligations

Manufacturer is a person mainly responsible for:

It is very important to understand that the physical manufacture is not relevant! As the legal definition says “who has such a product designed or manufactured” the manufacturer is the one who places the product on the market regardless of whether he is the actual producer or not.

Another important aspect is that a person becomes a manufacturer when rebrands the product!

Under such a legal framework, the following must be understood:

  • anybody can become a manufacturer but then he takes over all the manufacturer’s responsibilities
  • distributors are not allowed even to rebrand the product (let alone to change anything about the product)


legal definition

“distributor” means any natural or legal person in the supply chain, other than the manufacturer or the importer, who makes a construction product available on the market

practical meaning and obligations

By distribution, the movement of goods within the EU is meant.

Distributor is a person who must ensure that:

  • the product fulfils all requirements of CPR (bears the CE-marking, is accompanied by the documents required etc.)
  • take corrective measures when some of the above are not in compliance with law
  • storage or transport do not jeopardise the product’s compliance with documents and legal requirements
  • instructions and safety information can be easily understood by users

In a nutshell, a distributor is someone who “passes on” the product without any change. In addition, he is obliged to check if the product is in conformity with relevant law. The fact that the manufacturer has not fulfilled the obligations is not an acceptable excuse!


legal definition

“importer” means any natural or legal person established within the Union, who places a construction product from a third country on the Union market

practical meaning and obligations

Importers are kind of similar to distributors, but the main difference is that importers place the product on the EU market (from outside EU). Please distinguish: distributors do not place the product on the market because this has been done by the manufacturer. Placing on the market imposes certain obligation on the importer. The additional obligations are especially the following:

  • to ensure that the assessment of the product has been carried out by the manufacturer and the proper technical documentation has been drawn up by the manufacturer
  • to indicate their name, registered trade name or registered trademark and their contact address on the product packaging
  • to carry out sample testing of the product, investigate and keep a register of complaints, of non-conforming products and of product recalls, and to keep distributors informed of any such monitoring
  • to keep a copy of the declaration of performance at the disposal of the market surveillance authorities and ensure that the technical documentation is made available to those authorities

Authorised representative

legal definition

“authorised representative” means any natural or legal person established within the Union who has received a written mandate from a manufacturer to act on his behalf in relation to specified tasks

practical meaning and obligations

An authorised representative may only be appointed – through written mandate – by the manufacturer. The scope of the mandate is not clearly outlined by the CPR – the Regulation only states the minimum that has to be included in the mandate. Basically, the role of the authorised representative is to cooperate closely with national authorities regarding documentation and elimination of any risks. It is not the intention to substitute the manufacturer in essential tasks such as product assessment or drawing up of a Declaration of Performance.


Understanding the roles of economic operators is the starting point of further work with the law. Every role has its pros and cons and the differences amongst them may be subtle.