The UK Government has confirmed that businesses will have an additional year before they need to start using the new UK Conformity Assessed (UKCA) product safety marking. Whilst on the face of it, this is welcome relief for businesses getting their compliance measures in place in order that they can apply the UKCA mark, in reality, this is largely driven by the fact there is a lack of availability of UK approved bodies to provide adequate conformity assessment services. That need still remains and there is still work to be done to ensure the UK has sufficient testing capability even to meet the extended deadline. Read on for more.
The UKCA mark is a certification mark that indicates conformity with the applicable product safety requirements for products sold within Great Britain (GB). It is the UK's equivalent of the CE mark, albeit that it doesn't apply to products sold in Northern Ireland. Further to the Northern Ireland Protocol, these are still subject to EU product safety rules.
In the majority of cases, businesses have been able to voluntarily use the UKCA mark since 1 January 2021 to demonstrate conformity, but there was a grace period to 1 January 2022 whereby the CE mark could still be used. However, there is a limited category of products for which there was no grace period and UKCA marking has been mandatory since the end of the Brexit transition period, these are products which require mandatory third-party conformity assessment, and that assessment has been carried out by a UK approved body.
For products subject to the grace period, the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS) has announced that the UKCA mark will not now need to be applied until 1 January 2023, rather than the original deadline of 1 January 2022. In order to extend the deadline, the Government will introduce legislation under section 8 of the European Union Withdrawal Act later this year. Note that medical devices are exempted from the 1 January 2023 deadline, and businesses will not need to use the UKCA marking until 1 July 2023 (please see Government guidance here).
Whilst this provides businesses with a welcome additional 12 months to get their products and compliance procedures in order, the reality is that there is still a lot of work to be done. We understand that a key driver to this extension was the lack of UK approved bodies to be able to provide conformity assessment services. These additional 12 months will need to be maximised to ensure testing capability is suitably upscaled and, for businesses who wish to or need to avail of conformity assessment procedures, a priority for them should be securing the support of a UK approved body. Else they could be caught short.
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