On 24 August 2021, The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) granted a one-year extension for manufacturers to begin applying the UK Conformity Assessed (UKCA) marks for products marketed in the UK. The new deadline is 1 January 2023.
UKCA marks replace CE marks in the UK. Prior to the UK leaving the EU, CE marks were placed on goods marketed in the UK to show that the goods complied with EU legislation, including EU health, safety and environmental requirements. The CE mark will still apply to goods marketed in the European Economic Area (EEA) and in Northern Ireland, where goods remain subject to EU product safety rules pursuant to the Northern Ireland Protocol. In contrast, goods marketed in the UK must transition to the UKCA mark, although businesses affected now have until 1 January 2023 (rather than 1 January 2022 to achieve this.
A UKCA mark is very similar to a CE mark and is applied to goods marketed in the UK to show that the goods comply with UK health and safety laws and UK environmental requirements.
Manufacturers can apply UKCA marks on a self-declaratory basis for some goods, such as electromagnetic goods and electrical equipment, though for other goods, such as construction products and personal protective equipment, they are required by law to undertake a third party conformity assessment. This is an assessment conducted by a UK government approved body to ensure the goods in question meet specific regulations.
Although the transition period for manufacturers moving from CE to UKCA marks has been extended, manufacturers can voluntarily decide to implement the UKCA marks before the 1 January 2023 deadline. Alternatively, in the interim period, CE marks can be used if any of these three conditions are met:
- At present, the CE mark is applied to the goods on a self-declaratory basis;
- A mandatory third-party conformity assessment is required and has been completed by an EU recognised notified body; or
- A certificate of conformity previously granted by a UK approved body was appointed to an EU-recognised notified body before 1 January 2021.
Manufacturers will face a decision as to whether to voluntarily apply UKCA marks in advance of the 1 January 2023 deadline, or to wait until this date. Due to the time that this process may take, especially if the product meets the criteria for which a third party conformity assessment is required, businesses would be well advised to begin this process sooner rather than later.
Continuing on the theme of extensions, the UK Government has recently announced an indefinite extension to certain grace periods provided for Irish Sea border checks. The Northern Ireland Protocol mandates that some goods from the UK require to be checked, though grace periods were granted for some checks that were intended to expire in September 2021. It is hoped that delaying some of these checks will allow the UK to partake in further negotiations with the EU in relation to the Northern Ireland Protocol.
Our trade and commerce team has a broad range of experience in advising UK and multi-national businesses operating across all sectors, assisting clients with ongoing business and trading requirements. If you would like further advice on this or another related matter, please get in touch with Alison Rochester, Director, at firstname.lastname@example.org, or Roddy Forgie, Solicitor in our trade and commerce team, at email@example.com or your usual Shepherd and Wedderburn contact.