The government has announced changes aimed at making it simpler for British businesses to apply the new UK Conformity Assessed (UKCA) mark to products placed on the UK market.
The UKCA mark is mandatory on certain products and indicates that goods conform to domestic safety legislation.
Following Brexit, businesses have until 1 January 2023 to start using the new label which replaces the EU’s CE mark.
According to yesterday’s announcement (20 June), the new measures will:
- Reduce re-testing costs, by allowing certificates issued by EU conformity assessment bodies before the end of 2022 to be used as the basis for a UKCA mark
- Eliminate the need for the relabelling of products by permitting existing goods imported before January 2023 to be treated as being already placed on the GB market
- Clarify that imported spare parts, which repair or replace goods already on the GB market, will meet the same requirements as the existing goods themselves
- Allow UKCA marking and other important details to be added via a sticky label or accompanying paperwork until 31 December 2025
Manufacturers of certain construction products – such as radiators, sealants and tile adhesives – whose products are tested by an EU notified body before 1 January 2023 will also be able to obtain a UKCA mark without having to re-test through a UK-approved body.
Suzanne Alecrim, a customs and trade specialist at the Institute of Export & International Trade, told today’s IOE&IT Daily Update that the announcement should “address industry concerns”.
She said that the spares and construction industries had flagged concern about the “potential of shortages of products due to there being a lack of capacity to carry out UKCA testing and certification in order to be able to certify products by the 1 January 2023.”
“Many products were already in conformance with CE regulations and have continued to be supplied under current easements that have been extended,” she added. “Allowing products that already conform to CE standards to now be able to obtain UKCA marks will therefore be welcomed.”
The Times reports that, despite the easements, there will still be different rules for the testing and labelling of medical devices, construction products and other specialised equipment.
While welcoming the decision, have other industry groups said that the government’s decision to press ahead with the UKCA scheme would add costs on to business next year.
Peter Caplehorn, chief executive of the Construction Products Association, told the FT: “There are still a number of significant questions that need to be worked through, such as the persistent shortfall in capacity of the UK certification and testing sector.”
Alecrim also noted that the implementation of the scheme has not been extended, advising that it will be “prudent” for businesses to “continue to work towards the future date for full compliance.”
The British Chamber of Commerce (BCC) also said firms would face significant new cost pressures from the introduction of the new mark.
It pointed to inconsistency in CE-marked goods remaining free to circulate in Northern Ireland with having unfettered access to the British marketplace.
“There is some way to go before businesses will have complete assurance about the operation of the new markings systems, said William Bain, BCC head of trade policy.