With a no-deal Brexit looking like an increasingly likely proposition, HM government has drawn up plans to replace the CE conformity safety symbol on consumer products.
Household items such as electrical appliances and toys are stamped with the letters CE, to make it clear to consumers that the items meet EU legal requirements and have been tested. However, the mark is an EU mark, so if the UK leaves the EU without a deal, goods will have to be stamped with a new symbol.
The new logo drawn up by the UK government stands for UK Conformity Assessed (UKCA). The mark is intended to provide confidence to consumers and to the authorities that the products meet UK regulatory requirements.
If the new logo is to be used, companies manufacturing goods requiring the CE symbol to be displayed may have to change their packaging and advertising in the next few weeks, depending upon the outcome of a deal being reached between the UK and EU.
For manufacturers, the new requirement will mean a one-off cost and may affect production, as it could be required to be applied to products in a very short period of time.
Further, goods that are made in the UK and are exported to the European Union may have to be stamped with the CE mark for EU markets and UKCA for Great Britain and Northern Ireland.
After Brexit, it is likely that UK notified bodies will lose their status as notified bodies in the EU meaning that conformity assessments made by a UK-based notified body such as the UK Accreditation Service will no longer be recognised in the EU and will need to be reassessed by an EU-recognised conformity assessment body before goods are placed on the EU market.
In the event that there is no deal between the EU and UK, it is unlikely that manufacturers will have to adopt the new UKCA marking immediately and instead it is expected that there will be a grace period, meaning that manufacturers can take some comfort that their existing stock, displaying the mark, can still be sold legally in the UK.
Distributors bringing products from the EU to the UK or vice versa may now be classified as an 'importer' meaning that there are additional legal responsibilities for checking product compliance, including a requirement to display importer names and addresses.
The government insists delivering a deal remains its priority, but it is accelerating no-deal preparations to ensure businesses are prepared in the event of a no-deal Brexit. We would recommend that manufacturers keep a watchful eye on developments and speak to their regular Fieldfisher contact for any assistance on planning for a no-deal Brexit.