Brexit: Export of CE-marked Goods to Great Britain
Do you export goods to Great Britain with a CE marking? After Brexit a CE marking is no longer a ticket to the British market. In the United Kingdom, British rules for product safety and product liability will apply from 1 January, 2021. How do you ensure that you can continue to export goods to Great Britain after Brexit?
Keep the following in mind:
- The safety requirements of British law may deviate.
- New requirements for packaging, labeling and marking may soon apply.
- Additional approvals, certifications, or registrations may be required.
- You are subject to UK product liability laws.
Products in the UK Market and the CE-Marking
But there is also good news for exporters:
- For products that have already been put into circulation in Great Britain before 1 January, 2021 nothing will change.
- A large number of products can be put on the market with the usual CE marking until 1 January, 2022.
Of the 30 European CE Directives and Regulations, Great Britain will accept 17 as a basis for access to the UK market until 1 January 2022.
Please note that the authorities in the UK are sending mixed messages about this. Although the exception will in principle apply for the whole of 2021, there are no guarantees. The UK government reserves the right to impose new product rules as early as 2021. If the product requirements in those regulations deviate from the European rules, the British rules take precedence.
It’s therefore important to stay up to date on the latest developments throughout the year.
The British UKCA Marking
Starting on 1 January 2022, the CE-mark will no longer be accepted in Great Britain. In Great Britain, its own British product mark will apply. This product mark is called the UK Conformity Assessed marking, or the UKCA mark.
The UKCA mark will also be mandatory for products from 1 January 2021:
- Which do fall under one of the 17 accepted CE regulations, but
- Subject to mandatory inspection by a notified body,
- Which was carried out by a British notified body before 1 January, and
- Which inspection file has not been transferred to a notified body established in the EU.
Products for which a CE inspection by a notified body is mandatory must therefore be housed by a notified body established in the EU in order to qualify for the exemption.
This does not apply to existing stock: This can be put onto the market under the CE mark that has already been applied.
Also keep in mind that it is not possible to “shop” the technical requirements: A product can have both labels – UKCA and CE – but must meet all the requirements for each label.
It is possible that new regulations will be introduced that make UKCA certification mandatory for something that is not yet known. That is another reason why it is important to continue to monitor developments closely.
Manufacturer or importer
The exporter who markets products himself in Great Britain – and therefore is the importer of the goods in Great Britain – will soon be liable as a manufacturer under British law.
For example: You sell toys in Great Britain. From 1 January, 2021, you will be fully liable under UK law for the toy to be safe and free from any defects.
This means that:
- You are directly liable to the consumer if the product is deemed dangerous or has a defect.
- This is a liability risk: In case of a defect you are liable towards the consumer, regardless of whether you can do something about the defect.
- You bear the costs of handling claims and cannot settle claims by referring to the manufacturer.
- You are the point of contact for the authorities if there are problems with product safety.
This is another reason why it is important that you familiarize yourself with the new rules.
Ask yourself the following questions:
- Am I willing to take on the additional liability?
- Am I sure that the products I export comply with UK regulations?
- Do I know what to do if a supervisor approaches me?
- Does my insurance cover product liability? If not, what are the costs of this insurance?
It’s also important to note that conducting a lawsuit in the United Kingdom is not only complicated, but often times also more expensive than in the Netherlands. Trade with the United Kingdom is thus becoming more complex and legally more risky.
Much is still unclear, because the rules are still under development. You should therefore follow the news via our Brexit hub. Contact our advisors if things are unclear, so that you will not be confronted with expensive surprises.