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Preparing for Brexit: Understanding the UKCA Mark and the Future of CE Marking

In the event of a no-deal Brexit, manufacturers will be faced with changes to compliance regulations for the UK market. For manufacturers that currently use CE marking, this means that products destined for the UK market may need additional conformity assessment documentation and product marking.

Knowing what product types are covered, when conformity still applies, and how to declare for UKCA marking can be difficult. While nothing has been finalized yet, some information has been released by the UK Government (“Guidance - Using the UKCA marking if the UK leaves the EU without a deal”) to offer guidance on likely outcomes and next steps.

In this article, we’ll answer some of your questions about what products might be affected, who will need additional conformity assessment, and how to stay legal in the EU and the UK following Brexit.

What is the UKCA mark?

The UKCA (UK Conformity Assessed) marking is the new UK product marking that will be used, subject to UK parliamentary approval, for certain goods being placed on the UK market in the event of a “no-deal” Brexit. In its current draft state, it amends 38 product safety and metrology measures to correct deficiencies in UK legislation which will arise in those measures on Brexit. Since some types of product are not covered by this instrument, the UK government has provided separate guidance for construction products and medical devices.

The objective of the UKCA mark is to ensure that there is no reduction in product safety or accuracy, or consumer protections, as a result of Brexit, and to ensure that the effectiveness of the current legislative framework continues. (The requirements for product safety and metrology legislation will be maintained by retaining the appropriate EU obligations in UK law.) 

Most products which are currently covered by the CE marking will fall within the scope of the new UKCA marking (this includes products that fall within the scope of the EMC, Low Voltage, Radio Equipment, Machinery, and ATEX directives). For further details, please review the draft amending instrument which contains detailed information on each UK regulation that is linked to a CE marking directive.

The guidance in the section below gives further information on the future UKCA mark.

When will the UKCA mark replace the CE mark in the UK market?

The amendment  aims to ensure uninterrupted availability of products to consumers and other end-users by providing for products that meet pre-exit EU (and UK) requirements. In other words, the CE mark will continue to be recognized for what the UK government refer to as “a time limited period.” The length of this period will be determined after Brexit, and in consultation with UK industry; immediately after Brexit, any product with a valid CE mark will be acceptable in the UK market.

How will the UKCA mark be added to a product?

Like CE marking, the UKCA mark can be placed directly on most products. However, depending on the product type and guidance requirements, the mark may sometimes be placed the packaging or instructions.

How is the UKCA mark different from the CE mark?

The UKCA marking process essentially follows the same rules and regulations as CE marking. Most manufacturers will still be able to self-declare their products based on test results and other technical documentation, but in specific cases, they will need to obtain a type-examination certificate from a third party. As for CE marking, the use of third-party certification is dictated by the appropriate UK regulation (currently based on the equivalent CE directive).

However, it is important to note that the UKCA mark will hold no validity in the EU – it is a UK only mark. Moving forward, any product that requires a CE mark to be sold in Europe will maintain that requirement; the UKCA mark will not provide conformity in any of the EU-27 countries (i.e., members of the European Union post-Brexit). While dual marking of products may ultimately be required, this is not yet mandated.

Can I use the conformity documents from CE marking towards a UKCA mark?

Because current UK regulations are based on existing CE directives, manufacturer and third party conformity assessment documents that were used in the CE marking process can be presented as proof of conformity for a UKCA mark in most cases.

An exception is for products where third-party assessments for CE marking were certified by a UK Notified Body. If that certification has not been transferred to an EU-27 Notified Body prior to Brexit (e.g., for ATEX, RED or EMC), the UKCA marking process (and the necessary UK Type Examination Certificate) must be initiated through a UK Approved Body after Brexit.

All Element UK Notified Body certificates will be transferred to another Element Notified Body (within or recognized by the EU-27) in the event of Brexit. Element in the UK intends to become a UK Approved Body as soon as that option becomes available.

What happens in the event of a deal with the EU?

This will depend on the detail of the withdrawal deal. If the deal includes a transition period to full exit from the EU, then the new marking process will not be required until the end of that period. Even then, the final conformity relationship with the EU-27 countries after the transition will most likely be defined by a future free trade agreement which will contain specific rules for conformity assessment.

Do you need more help?

While many details about UKCA marking and product conformity post-Brexit are still being decided, Element is here to answer your questions and help you stay ahead of the curve.

For more information, or to speak with one of our experts, contact us today.

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