The UK Government has published new guidance on the UKCA product-marking framework which replaces the current EU CE marking regime in Great Britain (i.e. England, Wales and Scotland), from 1 January 2021. The guidance is in line with expectations and brings helpful clarity for manufacturers and other affected stakeholders, albeit also bringing with it unavoidable administrative burden.

UKCA marking was introduced in 2019 under the Product Safety and Metrology etc. (Amendment etc.) (EU Exit) Regulations 2019 (available here) by way of an amendment to retained EU Regulation 765/2008 (available here), which sets out requirements for accreditation and market surveillance relating to the marketing of products.

The new regime, which introduces the labelling, product safety and conformity assessment requirements for certain products on the UK’s departure from the EU, largely mirrors the current EU CE marking requirements for products placed on the EU market, and for which products must continue to comply with in the UK until “exit day” (i.e. 31 December 2020).

Under the UKCA marking framework, the essential requirements, the process for conformity assessment and the standards for conformity assessment are similar to the current CE marking regime, with new measures for economic operators subject to the regime being largely administrative in nature.

While the regime formally commences from 1 January 2021, there is a one year grace period, by which economic operators may continue to place CE marked products on the market until 1 January 2022 (to the extent the rules remain the same). Subject to the product type, certain transitional measures relating to the placement of the UKCA mark will apply.

Since there is no expectation that UK product standards will materially diverge from EU standards in the short term, the vast majority of cases it will be business as usual and there will be no need to apply a UKCA mark in 2021.

The key exception to this is for products that fall within the scope of legislation requiring UKCA marking, where mandatory third-party conformity assessment is required and where a UK conformity assessment body has undertaken conformity assessment and the relevant files have not been transferred to an EU recognised body, then such products are subject to UKCA marking requirements from 1 January 2021.

The product areas subject to the UKCA marking regime are largely the same as those under the EU CE marking regime and include for example:

  • toy safety;
  • recreational craft and personal watercraft;
  • simple pressure vessels;
  • electromagnetic compatibility;
  • non-automatic weighing instruments;
  • measuring instruments;
  • Lifts
  • ATEX
  • radio equipment;
  • pressure equipment;
  • PPE;
  • gas appliances;
  • machinery;
  • outdoor noise;
  • ecodesign
  • aerosols;
  • low voltage electrical equipment;
  • restriction of hazardous substances,

Certain product areas such as medical devices, rail interoperability, construction products and civil explosives are subject to special rules under the framework.

UKCA marking will not apply to products placed on the market prior to 1 January 2021 and existing stock.

For further information, please contact the author or your usual Reed Smith contact.