UK Extends Acceptance of EU’s CE Marking on Goods until End of 2022
04 October 2021
The UK Government has announced that it will give businesses more time to adapt to the introduction of the new UK Conformity Assessment marking (the “UKCA”) which replaces the EU’s mandatory CE marking following the UK’s withdrawal from the EU. Initially, the UK government had announced that products sold in Great Britain which previously had to bear the EU’s CE marking, would need to carry the new UKCA marking from 1 January 2022, as Hong Kong sellers may recall. According to updated UK government guidance, however, businesses will now be able to use the EU’s CE marking until the end of 2022.
Traders from Hong Kong and mainland China exporting goods to the UK may already be aware that the UKCA marking came into effect on 1 January 2021 for goods sold in Great Britain, but that the UK government delayed making it obligatory until 1 January 2022 in order to give businesses time to adjust. The UK has now announced that this adjustment period will be extended by one year.
The UKCA marking will apply to most goods previously subject to the CE marking such as toys, radio equipment, personal protective equipment, and machinery, the UK government guidance states, but will not be required for existing stock. The technical requirements (“essential requirements”) businesses selling such goods must meet (including the conformity assessment processes and standards that can be used to demonstrate conformity) are largely the same as they were for the CE marking, according to the guidance. The UKCA marking also applies, however, to aerosol products that previously required the ‘reverse epsilon’ marking.
Special rules will, however, apply for medical devices, construction products, marine equipment, transportable pressure equipment and rail products. Specific guidance is available for these goods. If businesses were able to self-declare conformity for the CE marking, they will also be able to use self-declaration for the UKCA marking, the guidance says.
Hong Kong and mainland Chinese exporters should note that the CE marking will only remain valid for the sale of goods in Great Britain where the British and EU rules remain the same. If the EU changes its rules and a product is labelled with the CE marking according to those new rules, the CE marking is no longer valid for sales in the UK, even before 31 December 2022, the UK government website warns.
While in most cases the UKCA marking must be applied to the product itself or the packaging, it may, in some cases, be placed on accompanying documentation, depending on the specific regulations that apply to the product, the UK government guidance states. The obligation to place the marking on the goods rests with the manufacturer or the manufacturer’s authorised representative where this is permitted by the relevant legislation. The UKCA marking must be clearly visible and legible and only be placed on goods if there is a specific requirement to do so under UK legislation. Additional markings and marks may also be attached as long as they (a) fulfil a different function from that of the UKCA marking; (b) are not likely to cause confusion with the UKCA marking; and (c) do not reduce the legibility and visibility of the UKCA marking, the UK government website clarifies.
The guidance sets out that manufacturers or authorised representatives (where allowed under the relevant rules), must keep relevant documentation for 10 years after the product is placed on the market. The information to be kept will depend on the specific product legislation but general records must be maintained on how the product is designed and manufactured, how the product has been shown to conform to the relevant requirements, and the addresses of the manufacturers and any storage facilities.
The UK Declaration of Conformity is a document which must be drawn up for most products lawfully bearing a UKCA marking, the UK government guidance explains. The UK also recommends that manufacturers have a separate UK Declaration of Conformity to their EU Declaration of Conformity. The UK Declaration of Conformity should (a) declare that the product conforms to the relevant statutory requirements applicable to that product and (b) contain the name and address of the manufacturer or authorised representative, as well as information about the product and the conformity assessment body. The information required for the UK Declaration of Conformity is largely the same as that required for the EU Declaration of Conformity, according to the UK government website. In contrast to the EU Declaration of Conformity, however, it should list UK legislation and UK designated standards, rather than EU legislation and EU standards respectively. Market surveillance or enforcement authorities can request information and the UK Declaration of Conformity to verify that the product complies with the legal requirements.
Finally, it should also be recalled that the UKCA marking is not recognised by the EU. Products sold in the EU thus continue to be subject to the rules applicable in the EU, including the rules pertaining to the CE marking. Goods sold in Northern Ireland are also subject to specific rules.
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