From 1 January 2023, many manufactured product categories placed on the Great Britain market (i.e. England, Wales and Scotland) will need to be marked with the UKCA marking, being the UK equivalent of the EU’s CE marking.
The UK Government provides general guidance (here) on the use of the UKCA marking. This and several other post-Brexit UK requirements of course present challenges and increased cost to businesses wishing to place their products on the Great Britain market. The Government has, however, recently announced a few further transitional measures that may help businesses deal with these product compliance challenges, at least in the short- to medium-term.
We previously published a note (here) that sets out the main product compliance and liability implications of Brexit, including the general rule that most CE marked products may still lawfully be placed on the Great Britain market until 1 January 2023, unless the UKCA marking was specifically required before that date (notably, when products: are placed on the Great Britain market; it is covered by legislation requiring UKCA marking; the product requires third-party conformity assessment; and such conformity assessment has been carried out by a UK conformity assessment body). Specific requirements vary depending on the type of product.
Apart from the operational and cost implications of having to mark products with the additional UKCA marking, with regard to product categories requiring third party conformity assessment (for purposes of affixing the UKCA mark) a UK-approved conformity assessment body must additionally conduct such an assessment (as opposed to one based in the EU for purposes of the CE marking). This potentially leads to a duplication of effort and cost despite the underlying product compliance regimes in the UK and EU still being largely aligned in most cases, although we may start seeing more regulatory divergence (see our recent article relating to this point, here).
There have been a few clarifications and new developments published on the UK Government guidance website (here) that are worth noting and which may provide some relief to businesses wishing to place their products on the Great Britain market:
- products that are repaired, refurbished or exchanged without changing their original performance, purpose, or type, are not considered ‘new’ and therefore do not need to be recertified and remarked with the UKCA marking from 1 January 2023;
- in relation to spare parts, these are generally considered to have been placed on the market at the time at which the original product or system they are ultimately intended to repair, replace or maintain was placed on the market, i.e. spare parts should comply with the same conformity assessment requirements that were in place at the time the original product or system was placed on the Great Britain market;
- with regard to third-party conformity assessment activities already carried out by EU-accredited bodies (for purposes of CE marking) before 1 January 2023, Government proposes to implement measures to provide that such EU conformity assessment certificate will suffice for purposes of the UKCA marking, provided that products must still bear UKCA marking. However, these products will need to undergo conformity assessment with a UK-approved conformity assessment body at the expiry of the EU certificate or after 5 years (31 December 2027), whichever is sooner; and
- while the UKCA mark must be used with effect 1 January 2023, Government further proposes to implement measures that will allow, up until 31 December 2025, that such UKCA marking to be placed on a label affixed to the product or on a document accompanying the product (as opposed to being physically marked on the product itself). It must be noted that this relaxation does not apply to all product categories.
While the above may provide some relief to businesses from a practical implementation perspective in the short- to medium-term, the UK Government continues to encourage businesses to be ready for full implementation of the new UK regime as soon as possible.