UKCA – time to act to ensure market access

Posted on 24 May 2021 by The Manufacturer

With just over seven months to go before the UKCA (UK Conformity Assessed) marking is the only accepted legal marking, experts from BSI run through what manufacturers need to know to proceed with their UKCA applications.

As a result of Brexit the UKCA mark replaces CE marking in Great Britain (GB) countries from 1 January 2022. Until then, CE marking will continue to be recognized as we are in a transition period. Medical Devices and products under Marine Equipment Directive have a longer time period.

The UKCA operates in broadly the same manner as CE marking. If your product required CE marking and you want to sell it in Great Britain, it will almost certainly need UKCA Marking. It’s worth noting that the requirements for Northern Ireland are slightly different, details of which you can find on the BSI website.

Products supplied in Northern Ireland must comply with EU regulations. Compliance is indicated with the CE mark or the ‘CE UKNI’ mark. Northern Ireland manufacturers can legally supply qualifying goods CE marked into the rest of the UK.

If you have previously used a non-UK Notified body, you will need to engage with a UK Approved Body.

Bob Wells, Global Head of Life Protection points out ‘There are roughly ten times fewer UK Approved Bodies who can provide the UKCA mark. Whilst not everyone will decide to sell their product in Great Britain, we expect a majority to do so, and thus there can be a build-up of work for these UK Approved Bodies. That is why it’s so crucial for manufacturers to take action now to make sure they are prepared for these changes.’

With only six months left to achieve UKCA marking, it’s important to take action now, so that you can ensure compliance and mitigate any risk such as loss of market access.

At this time, there is very little divergence between the Regulations (for the UK) and the Directives (for the EU). Whilst we can expect them to change over time, this will be a gradual process.

As far as CE Marking is concerned, nothing has changed, unless you use a UK based Notified Body, but many, such as BSI, have set up Notified Bodies in one of the EU 27 member states. Both the UKCA and the CE Mark can be applied to the same product on the same label.

Another misconception is that as you’re achieving two sets of marking, you’ll need two rounds of testing. This isn’t necessarily true as Graham McKay, Global Head of Energy Products at BSI explains ‘As an approved body, we are responsible for everything we certify. We have a duty to assess the quality of testing for a product, but if we have evidence the testing has been done by a professional and competent body, we will accept that and not have to re-test your products’. As a result, both the cost and the process are often more favourable than many manufacturers believe.

AGA Rangemaster- early achievers of the UKCA

Here at BSI, we have already issued around 1,000 certificates to manufacturers to affix the UKCA Mark on their products. To understand the UKCA from a manufacturer’s point of view, we spoke to David Reynolds, Technical Director for AGA Rangemaster about the experience and their drivers. They have already achieved the UKCA mark for a vast selection of their range cookers and kitchen appliances

‘The certification for the UKCA mark was really more of a formality based upon the required CE approvals that we already carry for our products…’. David is quick to point out that the UKCA wasn’t as challenging as many would expect: ‘it wasn’t a difficult transition, as the testing for conformity remains largely unchanged at this time across CE and UKCA marks. Indeed, application forms and documentation were required, in addition to separate surveillance certificate for the business.’

After explaining the process, David was quick to emphasise the reasons why AGA Rangemaster were so keen to achieve the UKCA mark well in advance of the deadline; ‘it was vital to obtain the UKCA mark for our products to eliminate the risk of disruption for customers. We want our customers to have confidence in our products, because as the market leaders it’s important that we’re ahead of the game, supplying products that have longevity, are robust and satisfy customers’ needs. It’s all about confidence, showing consumers and customers that we’ve got our finger on the pulse’.

AGA Rangemaster worked closely with BSI to achieve this and they emphasised that ‘technical expertise and knowledge of standards and regulations make them a great partner and point of reference for us. BSI is a world-renowned and well-respected testing body, so we look on them as a partnership; yes, there is a legal side to testing and compliance, but we don’t view it as overly onerous, due in part to the confidence and partnership we have built with BSI over the years.’

And finally, with the deadline six months away, David had this to say for organizations that haven’t yet achieved UKCA: ‘From 1 January 2022, only the UKCA certification will be recognised for market access in Great Britain. Come the end of the year, there’s going to be a real rush for products to conform to these standards. Consider this – wouldn’t you rather act now and have time to ensure that your products comply, rather than potentially be caught up in problems at end of the year?’