UKCA Marking: Updated Guidance
As the end of the Brexit implementation period draws closer, the UK Government has sought to clarify the changes that will follow. On 1 September 2020 they published the long-awaited guidance on the use of UKCA marking following the withdrawal of the previously issued advice earlier this year.
Under the existing marking system, by placing the EU CE marking on a product a manufacturer is declaring that the product conforms with all relevant legal requirements. From 1 January 2021 the EU CE mark will be replaced by the UK Conformity Assessed (UKCA) marking system for goods being placed in the market in England, Wales and Scotland. Notably, the UKCA marking cannot be used alone for products placed on the market in Northern Ireland, where goods will also require the CE marking or UK(NI) Marking.
There has been much discussion on how the marking system will change and differ from the current system. The latest guidance seeks to alleviate concerns that the requirements will be vastly different from the current standards and highlights that they "will be largely the same as they are now".
When should UKCA marking be used?
The guidance advises that UKCA marking is needed if a product is:
- For the market in Great Britain
- Covered by legislation which requires the UKCA marking
- Requires mandatory third-party conformity assessment
- Conformity assessment has been carried out by a UK conformity assessment body and conformity assessment files have not been transferred from a UK body to an EU recognised body before 1 January 2021.
What are the key deadlines?
The implementation period ends on 31 December 2020, so from 1 January 2020, UKCA marking should be used. Whilst there is nothing to stop businesses beginning implementation sooner (provided the UKCA mark does not create confusion with the CE mark), there is no requirement to do so and it has no legal significance. Products already on the market as of 31 December 2020 are not required to be re-marked.
After the end of the implementation period, businesses will have a further year (in most cases) during which they can continue to use the CE marking. This is intended to allow businesses time to adjust to the new system. This is subject to certain exemptions. For example, some products (such as medical devices and civil explosives) are subject to their own specific rules. From 1 January 2022, all products being placed into the UK market will require UKCA marking.
The guidance also states that until 1 January 2023, a UKCA sticker and/or label can be used on a product (or the accompanying document) and there is no requirement for the UKCA to be permanent (as is the case with the CE mark). This again allows for a period of adjustment and provides a resolution in cases where products need to be urgently marked.
Will the UKCA mark be recognised by the EU?
This has been a key question. The guidance makes it clear that the UKCA mark will not be recognised within the EU.
This means that any products which require CE marking and are exported to the EU from the UK will not only need to meet European standards but will have to bear both a CE mark and a UKCA mark. Manufacturers selling in UK and EU markets will need to mark products with the UKCA and CE marks respectively. It is anticipated that products will be marked with both, but although this has been expressly permitted by the UK guidance, EU guidance is silent on dual marking.
Other things covered in the guidance include further stipulations on how the UKCA marking should be placed, record keeping, UK Declarations of Conformity (and their requirements) and the specific product areas covered by the UKCA marking.
The full guidance can be found here.