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Conformity Assessment in Europe and the UK from 1 January 2021

Brexit Background

The United Kingdom formally left the European Union on the 31 January 2020, but a transition period until midnight Central European Time on 31 December 2020 was agreed to allow the continued application of rules and regulations including those surrounding the conformity marking and assessment of products (“Transition Period”).

Although both the UK and EU have indicated a willingness to work to achieve a negotiated agreement in relation to the regulatory regime after the Transition Period, plans were also implemented for the introduction of a United Kingdom Conformity Assessment (UKCA) Mark in the event that a deal was not reached. As the time to reach such a deal reduces, both the UK Government and the EU are advising Manufacturers to consider the implications of a ‘no deal’ scenario on their business activities.

Scope of this Guidance

This guidance document is intended to consider the implications of a ‘no deal’ outcome for Manufacturers of Electrical/Electronic and Mechanical products and systems, and Personal Protective Equipment, and specifically in relation to compliance with the following European Directives and Regulations:

  • Low Voltage Directive (2014/35/EU) LVD
  • Electromagnetic Compatibility Directive (2014/30/EU) EMCD
  • Radio Equipment Directive (2014/53/EU) RED
  • Machinery Directive (2006/42/EC) MD
  • Measuring Instruments Directive (2014/32/EU) MID
  • Personal Protective Equipment (2016/425) PPE
  • Equipment and Protective Systems intended for use in Potentially Explosive Atmospheres (2014/34/EU) ATEX

Implications of a No Deal - Summary

If at the end of the Transition Period there is no deal on the conformity assessment of products, Manufacturers will need to consider and account for the following changes:

  • The EU will not recognise conformity assessment activities performed by UK Notified Bodies for products placed on the market on and after 1 January 2021
  • The EU will not recognise the ‘UKCA’ mark
  • After 31 December 2022, the UK will stop recognising the ‘CE’ mark or conformity assessment activities that have been performed by EU27 Notified Bodies. Until then the ‘CE’ marking will continue to be recognised
  • EU Directives require some activities to be performed by entities located within the EU/EEA, of which the UK is no longer a member
  • Adopted/new UK legislation has been amended to require some activities to be performed by an entity located in the UK

Manufacturers will need to consider carefully the implications of Brexit on the conformity of their products and take appropriate action to ensure that declarations and product markings are updated at the appropriate times and that the various economic operators within the supply chain are located in the correct territory.

Further details

Introduction of a UK Compliance Mark

UKCA logo

In preparation for the introduction of a new conformity marking system for goods intended to be placed on the UK market, the UK Government has made provision for the introduction of a new Compliance mark to replace the existing European CE mark. The relevant UK regulations have been amended to broadly replace references to the CE mark with reference to the UKCA mark, to replace references to European Harmonised standards with references to UK Designated Standards and to replace the role of Notified Bodies with UK Approved Bodies. The intention is that the technical impact to Manufacturers shall, as far as possible, be reduced.

The detailed changes are provided for in UK Statutory Instrument 2019: 696, The Product Safety and Metrology etc. (Amendment etc.) (EU Exit) Regulations 2019. This instrument was subject to minor changes in Statutory Instrument 2019: 1246 and will be amended again in 2020 to enshrine the date of the end of the Transition Period rather than the exit day (which has already occurred) into the legislation.

Application of the UKCA Mark

The rules governing the use and application of the UKCA mark are not dissimilar to those which apply to the use of the CE Mark. The mark may only be applied to products in accordance with the specific Regulations which apply to that product by the Manufacturer or their Authorised Representative. The mark must not be applied to any product which does not fall within the scope of at least one Regulation which requires the application of the mark and by applying the UKCA mark the Manufacturer (or the Authorised Representative) is taking responsibility for the compliance of the product with all applicable legislation.

The mark will generally be required to be applied to the product itself unless the Regulations allow it to be applied to the packaging or accompanying documentation. The mark may be reduced or enlarged as long as the proportion and ratio remains the same. The minimum size of the mark is generally 5mm and it must be applied securely and in a way that its meaning may not be misconstrued.

Manufacturers may choose to mark both the CE and UKCA marks on a product as long as both the UK and EU compliance conditions are met.

UK ‘Grace Period’/ Additional Transition Period

The UK Government has agreed that for Manufacturers wishing to supply goods into the UK the ‘CE’ mark, including the results of Conformity Assessment activities performed by an EU27 Notified Body will continue to be recognised until 1 January 2022. This means that for most situations, Manufacturers will be able to continue to rely on the CE Marking of a product, as long as the technical rules remain aligned between the EU and UK.

This period of grace does not however extend to products which require the mandatory involvement of a Notified or Appointed Body, which are intended for supply in the UK market, and for which the certification has not been transferred to an EU27 Notified body. In these cases, the product certificates will, by default, become UKCA certificates and the UKCA mark must be placed on the product immediately. This requirement would not apply to products already manufactured and ready to place on the market before 1 January 2021.

Adopted Standards

Currently Manufacturers have the option of applying Harmonised Standards as a means of demonstrating that the Essential Requirements of a Directive are met. The Harmonisation process is one that results in the publication of the relevant Standard in the Official Journal. Moving forward, an alternative ‘Designation’ process will be implemented in the UK which will result in a list of Standards considered suitable being published by the Secretary of State in the UK. These Standards will operate in a similar way as Harmonised Standards, as a voluntary means to demonstrate conformity with the corresponding UK Regulations. Those Standards which are Harmonised at 31 December 2020 will become UK ‘Designated Standards’ on the 1 January 2021.

Further, where Manufacturers are referring to Standards, for example in Declarations of Conformity (“DoCs”), it will be necessary, where they exist, to refer to British versions of a Standard (e.g. BS EN 62368-1) rather than to the European version.

Conformity Assessment Bodies

On 1 January 2021 UK-based Notified Bodies will automatically become ‘Appointed Bodies’ under the UKCA legislation and any UK Notified Body issued certificates, that have not been transferred to an EU27 Notified Body, will automatically become valid as a means for illustrating conformity under the UK Regulations to which they apply.

On 1 January 2021, UK-based Notified Bodies will cease to be appointed under EU rules. Where, as at 31 December 2020, legislation requires the involvement of a European Notified Body in the Conformity Assessment process and products continue to be placed on the EU27 market after 31 December 2020 any Conformity Assessment certifications, including Type Examination Certificates issued by a UK Notified Body, will cease to be valid as a means of demonstrating conformity.

Similarly, EU27 Notified Body certificates will cease to be acceptable as a means of demonstrating conformity with UK Regulations, but subject to the period of grace referred to above (i.e. until 1st January 2022).

Geographic Location

The legislation currently imposes specific requirements on some Economic Operators associated with the supply of products in relation to their geographic location. Most notably, for the Directives covered by this guidance, the Importer and any Authorised Representative who the Manufacturer may choose to appoint must be located within Europe. With the withdrawal of the UK from Europe, any individual who fulfilled these roles and was located in the UK would cease to meet the location requirements for supply into the EU27 territory. As a result, an organisation previously only considered a “Distributor” may find themselves becoming an “Importer” within the meaning of the legislation and any DoC signed by a UK-based Authorised Representative would cease to be valid. The obligations imposed on an Importer are generally more onerous than those placed on a Distributor.

The UK legislation has been drafted or is in the process of being updated to require that, from 1 January 2021 any appointed Authorised Representative for UKCA purposes will need to be resident in the UK. The requirement to appoint an Authorised Representative is largely voluntary so this will only affect those Manufacturers who rely on an Authorised Representative to sign a DoC on their behalf. In addition, the requirement to mark the name and address of the Importer onto the product in the case of the EMC Directive, the Low Voltage Directive, the Measuring Instruments Directive and the Radio Equipment Directive will, when the UK Regulations are amended, allow for the relevant information to be provided on the packaging or accompanying document for a period of 18 months following the end of the Transitional Period. After this time, the UK based Importer will generally have to be marked on the product.

Conformity Assessment - Northern Ireland

The rules relating to the conformity marking of products intended to be supplied into Northern Ireland currently differ from the rest of the United Kingdom. This reflects the fact that there is a land border between that Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.

As a consequence, products imported into Northern Ireland will generally be required to comply with European Conformity processes and procedures.

Implications for Existing Products - Summary

Where a Manufacturer has existing products which they intend to continue to supply to either the European or UK markets after 31 December 2020 they will need to consider the effects and impact of Brexit; the extent of this impact will vary depending upon the nature of the product. Given that the technical requirements will be aligned on 1 January 2021 the changes should be largely administrative.

For products subject to self-declaration

For those products which are subject to a Self-Declaration by the Manufacturer prior to being placed on the market the changes will be minimal. The Essential Requirements of the Directives will mirror the Essential Requirements of the UK Regulations and therefore the products will remain compliant. Any test reports generated as a means of demonstrating compliance will remain valid wherever they were generated.

For the supply of products into the EU, the product marking will remain the same, however care should be taken to ensure that the DoC is signed be either the Manufacturer or an EU resident Authorised Representative. Where previously the importer to the EU was based in the UK, a new importer will need to be identified in the EU and their details will need to be marked or supplied where this is required by the Directives.

For the supply of products into the UK, Manufacturers may continue using the CE Marking arrangements up to the 31 December 2021. However, they will need to transition to UKCA marking arrangements at an appropriate time. Where CE marking arrangements are relied upon, the Manufacturer will need to ensure that a UK importer is identified for the product and that the EU DoC is translated into English if it isn’t already. On moving to the UKCA marking, the Manufacturer will need to ensure that the DoC is updated to reflect UK Regulations rather than EU Directives and to reference British Standards rather than European Standards. The DoC will need to be signed by either the Manufacturer or a suitable Authorised Representative. Where the Regulations require the Importer to be marked on the product it will be allowable for the UK Manufacturer to be marked on the packaging or accompanying documentation for 18 months following the end of the Transition Period (i.e. until 1 July 2022).

For products Subject to Notified Body Assessment

Where the product in question is one which requires the involvement of a Notified Body in the Conformity Assessment process, the actions required will depend upon where the current Notified Body is located and where the product is intended to be supplied.

European Law generally prohibits two Notified Bodies from certifying the same product simultaneously and therefore it is not possible to transfer an existing Notified Body certificate from the EU to the UK, or vice versa, whilst still maintaining the original certification. Any transfer will require the cancellation of the original certification.

Where a transfer becomes necessary the guidance documents issued by the EU and the UK provide two alternatives. A Manufacturer may choose to surrender the original certificate and make a new application to a Notified Body of their choice.

Alternatively, a Manufacturer may choose to work with the existing Notified Body and the new Notified body to agree a transfer of responsibility for the certification. This option allows a continuity in the certification process and minimises the work and cost involved.

Where a product is currently certified by SGS United Kingdom as a Notified Body, we have worked closely with SGS Portugal, which has a Notified Body scope which matches that of SGS United Kingdom. As a result, a simplified ‘Transfer of Responsibility’ process has been introduced allowing a Manufacturer, in the majority of cases, to apply for the responsibility for the product certification to transfer to SGS Portugal, S.A.Pólo Tecnológico de Lisboa Rua Cupertino de Miranda, Lote 6 Piso 0 e 1 1600- 546 LISBOA.

It will be necessary for a Manufacturer to update the reference to the Notified Body on the DoC, and, where the Directive requires the Notified Body number to be marked on the product, to the SGS Portugal number (1155).

This process is triggered by the completion of an application form available from SGS United Kingdom. Where the process involves a simple transfer with no update to the certification there will generally be no charge. This process must however be completed before the end of the transition period. It will not be possible after the 31 December 2020.

Where a product is currently certified by SGS United Kingdom and the decision is made to take no action, that certificate will automatically transfer to become an ‘Appointed Body’ certificate on the 1 January 2021. It will not be possible to rely on the existing CE marking in this instance and as a consequence ‘UKCA’ marking will be required in accordance with the requirements of the relevant Regulations. In addition, the DoC will need to be updated.

Moving forward, it will be possible that Manufacturers will be able to achieve dual European CE and UKCA Conformity Assessments in parallel, reducing cost and time to market.

UK Implementation of EU Directives

Manufacturers will need to become accustomed to thinking of compliance in the United Kingdom in terms of the relevant UK/National Regulations which are applicable to their products. Whilst these Regulations have always existed, up until now it has been common practice to refer to Directives. From 1 January 2021, it will be necessary to include reference to the applicable UK Legislation on for example the DoCs. The UK implementations of the Directives are shown below:

  • The Electrical Equipment Safety Regulations 2016 (SI 2016/1101)
  • The Electromagnetic Compatibility Regulations 2016 (SI 2016/1091)
  • The Supply of Machinery (Safety) Regulations 2008 (SI2008/1597)
  • The Radio Equipment Regulations 2017 (SI2017/1206)
  • The Measuring Instruments Regulations 2016 (SI2016/1153)
  • The Personal Protective Equipment Regulations (SI2002/1144)
  • The Equipment and Protective Systems intended for Use in Potentially Explosive Atmospheres Regulations 2016 (SI206/1107)

Further Information

Where you require additional information, or you wish to discuss the application of this guidance or to discuss the transfer of responsibility for an existing certification please contact:

EMC / Product Safety / Machinery / RED / MID
SGS United Kingdom Limited
Unit 12 a – b Bowburn South Industrial Estate
County Durham
United Kingdom
t: +44 (0)191 377 2000

SGS United Kingdom Limited
Inward Way
Rossmore Business Park
Ellesmere Port
CH65 3EN
t: +44 (0)1934 622 517

SGS Baseefa Limited
Rockhead Business Park
Staden Lane
SK17 9RZ
United Kingdom
t: +44 (0)1298 766600