The UK Government has announced that businesses will have a further year to start using the UKCA marking for goods placed on the GB market, extending the deadline to 1 January 2023.
What is a UKCA mark?
The UKCA (UK Conformity Assessed) marking is the new UK product marking that is used for certain goods that are placed on the GB market and covers most goods which previously required the EU CE marking, known as ‘new approach’ goods.
The UKCA marking indicates conformity with the applicable health, safety and environmental requirements for goods sold within GB. The marking does not apply to goods sold in Northern Ireland (NI) as, further to the NI Protocol, goods placed on the NI market are still subject to EU product safety rules.
For certain goods being sold in GB, the manufacturer can affix a UKCA marking on a self-declaration basis, whereas other goods require a mandatory third party conformity assessment (done by a UK Approved Body) to be carried out.
Prior to Brexit, the CE marking regime was recognised in the UK, as in other EU Member States. However, following the UK’s withdrawal from the EU, the EU no longer recognises conformity assessment by UK Approved Bodies for goods that are placed on the EU market and the UKCA marking is not recognised on the EU market. In time, goods with only a CE marking affixed will no longer be able to be sold on the GB market.
What is changing?
The UK Government implemented a period of transition which stated that goods with a CE marking that meet EU requirements could continue to be placed on the GB market until 31 December 2021 (provided the EU and UK requirements remain the same). This provided businesses with a transition period but also permitted businesses to use the UKCA marking on a voluntary basis before that deadline. However, due to the delays and issues caused by the pandemic, and largely due to the fact there is a lack of availability of UK approved bodies to provide adequate conformity assessment services, this deadline has now been extended.
The UKCA marking will become compulsory on 1 January 2023 for goods placed on the GB market, rather than 1 January 2022. For medical devices, businesses will not need to use the UKCA mark until 1 July 2023.
Businesses must take action to ensure they are ready to apply the UKCA marking by 1 January 2023 and, where mandatory third party conformity assessment is required, the priority should be to secure the support of a UK approved body.
The UK Government website refers to 1 January 2023 as ‘the final deadline’, which suggests that there will be no further extension granted. However, if that is going to be a realistic date, the issue regarding the lack of UK approved bodies (both availability and/or capacity for certain testing requirements) must be fully resolved before this deadline to ensure that adequate conformity assessment services and capability are available.