Post-Brexit product safety rules delayed amid supply fears

25 August 2021

The government will give businesses an extra year to start using the new UK safety marking on products after pressure from concerned manufacturers.

Originally businesses were given a deadline of the January 1 2022 to make sure that all products would have the UK Conformity Assessed (UKCA) marking following Brexit, but industry was concerned about supplies of components and spare parts.

The UKCA marking replaces the product safety labelling the UK previously used while a member of the EU, such as the CE mark.

However, post-Brexit delays and bureaucracy, exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic, meant that manufacturers and other businesses had become increasingly concerned about their ability to meet the deadline and the impact on imported components.

Business groups including the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) and Make UK lobbied the government to allow more time for organisations to meet their legal obligations.

Now the government has agreed to extend the deadline to 1 January 2023, giving businesses an extra year to apply new safety markings for most products placed on the market in England, Scotland and Wales. This applies to all goods where businesses were due to begin using the UKCA marking by the end of this year.

The extension means all goods which previously required the CE marking will not need to use the UKCA marking until January 1 2023. The exception is medical devices, where businesses will not need to use the UKCA marking until July 1 2023.

The government said the UKCA would allow the UK to have control over its goods regulations, maintaining high product safety standards, and businesses have been able to use it since the beginning of this year. The UKCA marking is not recognised on the EU market, however, and products will still need a CE marking for sale in the EU, meaning that manufacturers selling into both markets will need two distinct processes to meet requirements.

Make UK said the extension would be a huge relief to industry and was a vital lifeline to supply chains.

“Companies were becoming increasingly nervous as the clock ticked down to the end of the year, caught up in the delays and bureaucracy in getting their products tested,” said Fergus McReynolds, Make UK director of EU affairs & international affairs. “The extra year will provide both exporters and importers with valuable breathing space to enable a new testing system to bed in place.”

BCC said the extension would protect supply chains and help protect the supply of items such as phones and laptops.

“There is currently a lack of testing capacity to enable the retesting of decades worth of CE marked items for the new UKCA specification, so this measure will be hugely important in allowing time for that capacity to be built and for retesting to take place,” said BCC head of trade policy William Bain.

However, he warned the government needed to give full consideration to the difficulties faced by some industry sectors.

“Complex supply chains such as those in the automotive industry still face having to duplicate markings on certain components and incurring large costs for testing as a result,” said Bain. “This could compromise the output of these industries, limit availability of goods for consumers and create mounting cost pressures on British businesses.”

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