A change in conformity: Reminder to update product safety markings by 31 December 2022

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03 November, 2022

John Pickervance
Partner and Head of Commercial

International businesses who conduct business in the UK should be aware that the UK Conformity Assessment mark (the "UKCA mark") will apply to certain products for sale on the UK market, replacing the existing European conformity mark (the "CE mark") from 31 December 2022.

What is the UKCA?

The CE mark has historically been placed on a wide range of products to indicate compliance with regulatory requirements set out by the European Union. However, following the UK's cessation from the European Union, the Government has released two new conformity marks, the UKCA (for use in England, Wales and Scotland) and the UKNI (for use in Northern Ireland in conjunction with another conformity mark, such as CE or UKCA, depending on where the product is sold).

The UKCA mark indicates that a particular product conforms with the required safety legislation or designated standards of particular recognised standardisation bodies (which in the UK refers to the British Standards Institution), which were introduced in the UK to replace the EU's harmonised standards.

What does it apply to?

The UKCA mark only applies to certain products which are placed on the UK market. An individual product is placed on the UK market when it is "first made available for distribution, consumption or use on the GB market in the course of commercial activity, whether in return for payment or free of charge."

Not every product needs to contain the UKCA mark. Only the following qualifying products will need to contain the new conformity mark:

  • toys;
  • pyrotechnics;
  • recreational craft and personal watercraft;
  • simple pressure vessels;
  • electromagnetic compatibility;
  • non-automatic weighing instruments;
  • measuring instruments;
  • measuring container bottles;
  • equipment for potentially explosive atmospheres;
  • lifts;
  • radio equipment;
  • pressure equipment;
  • personal protective equipment;
  • gas appliances;
  • machinery;
  • equipment for outdoor use;
  • ecodesign;
  • aerosols; and
  • low voltage electrical equipment.

To obtain the UKCA mark, the products must comply with the product safety regulations which are relevant to that particular product. There are a number of products which have special rules, such as medical devices, construction products and hazardous substances, and as such, international businesses who conduct business in the UK will need to be aware of any specific guidance which might apply in order to sell products on the UK market.

Who does it apply to?

Obligations in relation to the UKCA mark depend on the economic operator's role in placing products on the market in England, Wales and Scotland, notably:

Manufacturers - must ensure that the product has been designed and manufactured in accordance with the relevant safety requirements set out in UK legislation;

Importers - anybody in the UK who supplies a product from outside of the UK for distribution, consumption or use, must not place a non-compliant product on the market and ensure that manufacturers have carried out the correct conformity assessment;

Authorised representatives - anybody in the UK who is appointed by a manufacturer to carry out certain tasks (such as drawing up a UK Declaration of Conformity), if acting as an importer, must comply with the obligations of an importer; and

Distributors - anybody in the supply chain, other than the manufacturer or importer, who places a product on the market must take due care to ensure that the product conforms with product regulation to the extent that they apply in the UK.

The CE mark ceases to apply at 11pm on 31 December 2022, therefore international businesses who trade, sell or introduce goods to the market in England, Wales and Scotland will need to familiarise themselves with the new regulations concerning the UKCA mark and ensure that the UKCA mark is placed on products or their packaging by this date.

As a temporary transitional measure, the UK Government has outlined its intent to introduce legislation to permit adhesive labels containing the UKCA mark to be affixed to products or their packaging up until 31 December 2025.

For more information contact John Pickervance in our Commercial department via email or phone on 0333 207 1134. Alternatively send any question through to Forbes Solicitors via our online Contact Form.

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