Both multicrystalline and Czochralski (Cz) silicon substrates are known to suffer from various mechanisms of light-induced degradation (LID), including copper-related LID (Cu-LID). Past studies on Cu-LID have mostly been performed on unprocessed wafers, omitting the impact of the solar cell process on the copper distribution. Here, we carefully contaminate Cz-substrates of different quality with different amounts of copper and process the substrates into complete industrial Cz-Si PERC solar cells, reaching a comprehensive mapping of the impact of Cu-LID for the PV industry. The results show that both the copper contamination level and Cz crystal quality are critical factors affecting the extent of Cu-LID. Most importantly, we show that copper can result in significant concentrations in the bulk of the finished PERC cells after being exposed to only trace surface contamination. Consequently, even a small local copper contamination area (~ 3–4 cm2) is sufficient to induce strong LID in the full-sized (156 × 156 mm2) cell parameters, resulting e.g. in ~7% relative efficiency loss during light soaking. The corresponding short circuit current density decreases by up to a factor of two in the contaminated areas.