Don’t let confusion cost your business – UKCA to stay?

What matters

What matters next

Following the UK Government’s announcement in August 2023 of plans to extend the recognition of the CE marking ‘indefinitely’, the Department for Business and Trade (DBT) has announced its intention to propose legislation in the spring of 2024 that will indefinitely recognise CE marking for many types of products sold in Great Britain (GB).

What is CE marking and UKCA marking?

The EU CE marking is used for certain goods to indicate conformity with applicable product health, safety and environmental requirements. The UKCA (UK Conformity Assessed) marking was originally intended to replace the EU CE marking for the GB market.  We discussed this and the previous changes and extension to the UKCA marking regime in our previous article, Don’t let confusion cost your business – UKCA to go away?

Continued recognition 

In a policy update, dated January 2024, the Department for Business and Trade set out the intention to indefinitely recognise current EU requirements, including the CE marking and reversed epsilon marking, for a range of products.  

Under the concept of continued recognition, if a business chooses to use the recognised EU requirements to place a product on the GB market, it will need to ensure that all the necessary conformity processes have been undertaken (for example, applying the relevant conformity marking). The business must also provide a declaration of conformity that has been translated into English that lists all the relevant EU product regulations that have been met.  

Fast-track

The Government is introducing a new optional fast-track provision which will allow manufacturers to place products on the GB market where they meet the EU essential requirements and, where required, have been conformity assessed by an EU recognised conformity assessment body.  

To benefit from this provision, manufacturers will need to affix the UKCA marking (in a way that is permitted) and draw up the UK declaration of conformity, listing compliance with the relevant EU legislation. 

The fast-track process will mean that manufacturers can use the UKCA marking to demonstrate that they have met either UK, or recognised EU, essential requirements and conformity assessment procedures for each regulation applicable to a product. 

Where products fall within multiple regulations, a mixture of both UK and EU conformity assessment procedures can be used to demonstrate compliance.  

This is designed to provide greater flexibility and the intention is that it will be applicable in case of divergence between a mandated UK regulation and an equivalent EU regulation. Guidance on the proposed fast-track arrangement is yet to be published.  

Labelling flexibility 

Additional legislation, not yet announced, will also be introduced to provide a permanent labelling flexibility that will allow:

  • the UKCA marking to be placed on a sticky label or accompanying document rather than permanently affixed to the product; 
  • importers of goods from countries outside GB to provide their details on an accompanying document, the packaging or on an adhesive label instead of on the product itself; and, 
  • digital labelling in some circumstances. This will likely be in the form of a QR code. 

What does this mean?

This approach is designed to provide longer term certainty and flexibility for businesses. The possibility of the UK mandating UKCA marking for certain regulations in the future (a scenario that would mean EU regulations and the CE marking are not recognised in GB) is mooted in the policy update.  However, as it stands, many manufacturers will likely choose to use the CE marking where their products are also supplied in the EU – meaning that the UKCA marking may not be utilised as much or may not even be here to stay.

Disclaimer

This information is for educational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. It is recommended that specific professional advice is sought before acting on any of the information given. © Shoosmiths LLP 2024.

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