CE or UKCA? – your questions answered.
By Strafford Cooke, technical director, Mila.
If you read the BBC and other media reports on what they called ‘the government’s post-Brexit climbdown’ on CE/UKCA marking, you might have thought it meant we could all relax and continue using the EU’s CE product safety symbol indefinitely.
Unfortunately, that’s not the case. While CE marking will still be allowed on most manufactured goods including machinery, PPE and low voltage electricals moving forward, it will not be allowed for construction products after 30 June 2025. So, the switch to UKCA marking is currently very much still on for companies in this sector.
I’ve already had a few customers calling me to check this, so here’s my round up of the FAQs which hopefully will help:
Q: Why are construction products not included in the climbdown?
Partly, it’s because Construction Product Regulations are the responsibility of Michael Gove’s Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC) rather than the Department for Business and Trade (DBT) which covers the 18 product areas included in the latest announcement.
The official reason given by the DLUHC why construction products were not included is that they want to ensure that ‘the testing regime for construction products in Great Britain is effective and inspires public and market confidence’.
Q: What does that mean in terms of timings?
Unless we get further information from the DLUHC, timings are unchanged for construction products, so we can all still use CE marking until 30 June 2025. But, from that point onwards, products will need be tested, certified and labelled to UKCA.
Q: What action do UK businesses need to take?
We’ve known about the impending UKCA requirements since about 2020 so I would expect most businesses to be well on the way to completing the switch by now. Certainly, Mila now has UKCA marking on all our previously CE marked products, and we have retained the CE mark as well because we also sell many of these products into Europe and the UKCA mark is not recognised there.
What’s required is a Certificate of Conformance from a UK ‘Approved Body’ for UKCA (or an EU ‘Notified Body’ for CE). The likes of Element and BSI are established as both types of bodies which makes life easier, and you simply choose which certificate (or both) you require depending on where your products will be sold.
UKCA essentially follows the same EU Harmonised Standards rules and regulations as CE marking (although, they’re now known as UK Designated Standards). However, because there is currently no mutual recognition agreement between the UK and the EU, from a fabricator’s perspective, any AVCP3 characteristic previously tested by an EU Notified Body still needs to be retested by a UK Approved Body for it to be UKCA marked.
Q: Are the rules still different in Northern Ireland?
Yes. The CE mark was always due to remain in Northern Ireland under the terms of the Brexit agreement and that will continue to be the case, as well as the addition of a new UKNI mark (equivalent to UKCA). Businesses there must use the UKNI symbol for products coming into Great Britain (when using a UK Approved Body) or the CE mark on its own to access NI, GB an EU markets when using an EU Notified Body.
Q: Is there likely to be another U-turn?
All we’ve heard from the DLUHC so far is that it will set out its proposal for reform of the construction products regime ‘in due course’. The construction industry is lobbying hard for a U-turn on CE marking, but while the DLUHC is still grappling with the Hackitt report and the Building Safety Act, it seems low down on their list of priorities.
As things stand, we all have to push ahead with the switch to UKCA marking as planned. However, it is perhaps worth nothing what the Business Minister, Kevin Hollinrake, said in the DBT press release announcing the U-turn: “Industry has long been concerned that the full introduction of UKCA labelling would be damaging by erecting a barrier to trade and adding administrative burdens and cost.”