From CE to UKCA marking: how will it affect your business ?

17 Aug 2021
Estimated reading time : 5 minutes
From CE to UKCA marking: how will it affect your business ?
17 Aug 2021
Estimated reading time : 5 minutes

Brexit brought about substantial changes for companies: restructuration of supply chains, rules of origin, new customs regulations, sanitary and phytosanitary controls, etc. One of the most important changes concerns the transition from CE to UKCA marking. The deadline by which all UK products will have to be UKCA-marked was innitially planned on 1st January 2022. After intense lobbying, organizations have managed to extend it to 1st January 2023. Nord France Invest answers your most frequently asked questions on this subject.

What does CE marking stand for?

It is an administrative marking by which the manufacturer or importer asserts compliance with European health, safety and environmental protection standards for products sold in the European Economic Area (EEA). The CE marking is not a measure of quality or a certification mark.

What is the difference between CE and UKCA?

CE stands for “Conformité Européenne”, i.e. «European Conformity ». The UK Conformity Assessed (UKCA) marking is a new British product label used for goods placed on markets in Great Britain (England, Wales and Scotland) market. This marking applies to most of the items that previously required CE marking, known as “new approach” products. It will not be recognized in the EU market.

Is UKCA mandatory?

The United Kingdom Conformity Assessed marking became mandatory after the end of the Brexit implementation period, although until the 1st January 2023, the CE marking will be considered as a legitimate substitute. The range and application process of the UKCA regime will initially follow the one set out in the CE marking, but after 31 December 2020, the two regimes may differ.

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What is the timeline for the introduction of UKCA marking in Great Britain?

UKCA marking came into force on January 1st this year. Until January 1st, 2023, it will be possible for businesses to use CE as well as UKCA marks -or both. In two years, only UKCA will be recognized for market access to Great Britain. This means that in a year and a half, CE marking will no longer be recognized for UK market access.

When to use the UKCA marking

The new UKCA marking is only to be used before 1st January 2023 if all of the following conditions are met. Your good:

  • is to be offered for sale in the UK
  • is subject to legislation mandating the UKCA mark
  • needs a compulsory third-party conformity assessment
  • the conformity assessment was performed by a UK conformity assessment body

This doesn’t affect the remaining stock, i. e. if your product has been fully produced, CE marked and ready to be sold before 1 January 2021. In this situation, your product can still be sold in Great Britain with a CE marking even if it is protected by a certificate of compliance issued by a UK body before 1 January 2021. These products must be launched on the market before 31 December 2022.

What needs UKCA marked?

A product should only be marked UKCA by either you, as the manufacturer, or your authorised representative (where permitted by the relevant legislation). By placing the UKCA mark, you accept full liability for the compliance of your product with the requirements of the relevant legislation.

Who is responsible for UKCA marking?

The moral person responsible is either the manufacturer or their authorised representative. The same principles as for CE marking apply, but for the UK market.

Can I self certify UKCA?

Concerning the self-certification of goods, producers will only have to use the UKCA marking if the particular product meets the requirements of the new UK marking. This marking will only be applicable in the UK and will not be recognised in the European market.

A self-declaration of conformity for the UKCA marking can be used in the same ways as for the CE marking. Provided you have been allowed to make a self-declaration of conformity for the CE marking, you should be able to do the same for the UKCA marking.

How much does UKCA cost?

Though the new UKCA logo is free to obtain, integrating it into businesses’ packaging and products can be costly. Though it doesn’t need to be added to the physical product until Jan 1 2023.

What about CE marking?

Should your good need the services of a Notified Body for third party compliance assessment, and if this service has been undertaken by a UK Notified Body, then your CE marking will be invalid.
To preserve your CE marking, you will have to operate with a Notified Body registered in a EU27 Member State. The CE mark is valid in the EU and in the UK up to the end of 2021.

Do I need to affix both UKCA and CE marking?

When selling a good on the British market, only the UKCA marking is needed. Any product with a CE marking, when sold in the UK, will still be valid, provided it is also UKCA marked and conforms to the applicable UK rules.

How can organizations prepare for UKCA marking?

The transition from CE to UKCA is essentially a duplicative process, as UK standards follow EU standards in the vast majority of cases.
The steps you need to take to prepare for UKCA marking will depend on the current status of your business and your future market access requirements. If your product requires the services of a notified body for third party assessment of conformity, you will need to check whether they are able to offer UKCA marking-related services. Only organizations that are approved bodies for UKCA marking will be able to offer this service.

The UK’s standards organisation (BSI) remained a member of the European Standards Organisations, which coordinates standards in the EU, despite the fact that it’s not an EU body.

For which sector of activity is the transition more difficult?

For industries that use safety-critical products (lifts, cars, medical devices, etc.): transition to UKCA marking will be very difficult.

UKCA mark: What are the challenges for these industries

  1. The UKCA mark needs to be handed by UK approved bodies, but their capacity is insufficient, even for a simple «cut and paste» of CE approvals. There could even be anomalies, as replacement components for some goods (e.g. Lifts) may not even exist in a UKCA-marked format.
  2. As EU businesses placing goods on the UK market need a UKCA mark, UK businesses need to convince their EU suppliers to do the paperwork to obtain the UKCA mark. For many EU businesses, the UK market won’t be worth it, which could impact UK supply chains.
  3. UK companies placing EU products on the UK market must take legal responsibility for these products, and vice versa (EU companies placing UK products on the EU market). This means companies importing products from the other jurisdiction are exposing themselves to legal risk, which they may not be willing to take.

What is at stake if there is a divergence of standards between the UK and the EU ?

All of this is likely to become even more complex as the UK starts to diverge from EU regulations when companies will have to deal with the costs of testing products for two separate regimes. Some products may therefore no longer be viable for the UK market.

Overall, this process is likely to make UK products more costly and less competitive. This is why multiple organisations have complained and managed to make the government extend the 1st January 2022 deadline by which all UK products will have to be UKCA-marked to 1st January 2023 :

  • Lift and Escalator Industry Association: a shortage of UK approved bodies is «critical»
  • Construction Products Association: UK could «run out of construction material »
  • Actuate UK: for certain goods, it could take UK notified bodies several decades’ worth of testing to certify all EU products for the UK market
  • Federation of Environmental Trade Associations: warns about the “consequences”

Read more: AFTER BREXIT: Adapting your business model