Transitioning to UKCA from CE Marking

UKCA Marking

UKCA markings are in the process of replacing CE markings in the UK market. While UKCA officially became the standard on the first day of 2021, manufacturers, retailers and distributors have been given a years’ time to transition and conform to UKCA standards for all products sold in the UK.

What are CE and UKCA Markings?

Conformité Européenne (French for European Conformity) or CE markings are a self-declaration by a manufacturer that their product(s) are complaint with the health, safety and environmental protections prevalent across the European Union (EU) and conform with other relevant requirements.

The UK Conformity Assessment (UKCA) refers to the current standards by which manufactures selling products in the UK market are complying with UK legislation in a similar way that adhering to the CE standard demonstrates compliance per the EU guidelines.

It is important to note (as explained below), that the CE and UKCA marking are self-declarations. The proof of compliance is produced by the documentation held by the company.

Why Do Companies Need to Transition from CE to UKCA?

According to the UK Government, all products manufactured, distributed and retailed within Great Britain (which covers all products previously covered by the CE standard), must meet the UKCA standards. While the standards and processes for assessment of products is similar, the UKCA is a distinctly separate marking which is required to be carried on products by law.

Some products are legally required to have the CE / UKCA mark under the Construction Products Regulations. Where there is a “harmonised standard” e.g Structural Steel, you can self-declare up to execution class 2 but 3 and 4 require testing by a notified body as well as external assessment to the EN 1090 standard.

Exclusions on the Marketing of UKCA Marked Products

A few things should be noted (check the UK Government’s site for more details):

  • The UKCA standard cannot be used to sell products in the EU – there, the CE standard is currently still required. Over time, some convergence of standards is to be expected.
  • The UKCA standards are applicable to products sold within Great Britain – that is, England, Scotland and Wales.
  • The guidance for Northern Ireland is slightly different.
  • Products that are covered include most of those covered by CE, along with some others. There are, however, a number of products that have separate guidance, including:
    • Medical Devices
    • Civil Explosives
    • Construction material and products
    • Rail interoperability constituents.

Medical devices, for example, are sold under guidelines published by the Medicine and Healthcare Regulatory Agency. They can be sold in Great Britain, Northern Ireland and the EU after meeting said standards.

Who Needs to Transition from CE to UKCA?

All companies – manufacturers, distributors and retailers – that market, distribute and sell products (provided those were not part of existing stock that had been ready for sale prior to January 1, 2021) must have the UKCA mark affixed on their product and/or packaging to offer their products for sale in the Great Britain market.

The responsibility for getting the products assessed for UKCA conformity and marked accordingly falls upon the manufacturers of the product.

As discussed below, there is a one-year period when such products can be sold with CE marking. Also, we describe later how any product a third-party conformity assessment is required to have the UKCA mark.

When Does the Transition Need to be Completed by?

UKCA markings have replaced CE markings earlier this year – on January 1, 2021, to be more precise. In theory, any products that had CE markings as of that date must now have UKCA markings in order to be sold in the UK.

Having said that, a one-year transition period is still under way, which means that companies actually have till Jan 1, 2022, to transition fully into UKCA marking their products.

How Can Companies Get their UKCA Requirements Met?

The UK Government has clearly articulated steps that would evaluate manufacturers of all products that previously required CE markings, along with certain additional products (such as aerosol products that previously required the “reverse epsilon” marking), to evaluate their existing product standards vis a vis the requirements of UKCA and then carry out a series of steps to enable the company to get the marking.

As part of the process, products being marketed in the UK must undergo a third-party conformity assessment carried out by an appropriately licensed UK body. A UK Conformity Assessment Body (UK CAB) covers a range of approved bodies, Recognised Third-Party Organisations (RTPOs), Technical Assessment Bodies (TABs) and User Inspectors (UIs). There is also a class of UK Notified Bodies, who are able to produce certification for products sold in Northern Ireland.

Typical UKCA and CE Conformity Assessment Steps

The Conformity Assessment for a manufactured product consists of the following steps:

  1. The company will identify the directives and standards that apply to the specific product being tested.
  2. They will then verify the specific requirements that the product must comply with.
  3. At this stage, the company will assess whether a third-party review is necessary.
  4. The product will be tested by the third-party assessor, who will then …
  5. Draw up the required technical documentation in support of the review and findings.

After these steps are completed and the documentation safely in place, either the UKCA (or CE, as the case may be) marking can be placed on the product and/or its packaging. 

Companies could transfer their conformity files to a recognised EU body, in which case they may not fall under the requirement of needing to obtain CE and UKCA marking.

Why Would You Need It? Benefits of UKCA Marks

The answer is obvious. Companies will not be able to distribute and sell their products in the Great Britain market without UKCA marks in the very near future. CE and UKCA markings are mandatory for whichever classes of products they pertain to.

While there is not much debate on the benefits, a word of caution is warranted. A UKCA Declaration of Conformity is a legal claim that the products being marketed and sold comply with all of the UK Government’s directives and standard. However, it is not evidence that the product is actually in compliance with said standards.

In other words, placing a UKCA mark on the product or its packaging does not prove compliance with the standards. The company must carry technical documentation and updated files that can prove such a claim if challenged.

It is also to be noted, however, that a manufacturer placing a UKCA or CE mark on their product is not making any implicit statement about the quality of the product but merely asserting compliance with the requirements within the relevant jurisdiction.

The Final Word…

UKCA markings are here to stay. Manufacturers need to check whether they need to switch from CE to UKCA and ensure that they employ a UK CAB to assess and provide necessary documentation. Time is running out, so it’s important to look into the matter sooner rather than later. 

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Do you want us to take care of your fire compliance? H&S compliance? ISO certification? training? human resources?

At RKMS we are determined to make a business run as efficiently as possible. Will that next business be yours?

John Keen
Apart from work John enjoys sports (football, karate & walking) as well as travel & spending time with friends & grandchildren.

Do you want us to take care of your fire compliance? H&S compliance? ISO certification? training? human resources?

At RKMS we are determined to make a business run as efficiently as possible. Will that next business be yours?

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