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CE Marking vs UKCA Marking - What does it mean?

When you saw the title of this blog, you probably took a huge sigh & were inclined to move on to something else quickly. But if you’re still here, something has peaked your curiosity, maybe it was that you just want some straight answers.

Well here you go. We’ve now heard back on some questions we asked the HSE & wanted to share those answers with you.

I’ve worked in both the engineering & health & safety sectors for the last 30 years & have to say that this has been one of the most confusing issues to unpick that I’ve come across. Even worse than stress/strain diagrams, Bernoulli’s equation or even Diploma exams.

So, let’s try & keep it simple. 

At our member briefing in October, we told you the following was happening:

From the 1st of January 2021

  • The UK left the EU on 31 January 2020 and entered into a transitional period ending 31 December 2020.  From 1st January 2021 UKCA marking will begin to replace CE marking for goods being placed on the GB market.
  • The essential requirements for safety of products will be largely the same, but those supplying into GB will now only be able to use GB recognised standards to help them interpret the requirements. So lots of BS & ISO, but no ENs. 
  • The UKCA mark will not be recognised in the EU as it only shows compliance with the UK’s Supply of Machinery (Safety) Regulations 2008, not the EU Directive.
  • Up until the 1st of January 2023, you can show conformance via a certificate, but after that you will have to affix the UKCA mark to the product in an indelible manner.

OK, but still lots of questions right?

What is CE Marking anyway & how does it work?

CE stands for Conformite Europeenne & by law any manufacturer of products must declare that their product is safe & complies with a set of very basic requirements called Essential Health & Safety Requirements. Manufacturers can use harmonised standards to help them comply (EN, ISO) but these are optional. Depending on the type of product you make, there are different routes you can take to compliance. The following are for machinery:
  1. Self-Assessment – Basically, this means do it yourself, don’t involve anyone else & is only available for items of machinery that are lower risk.
  2. EC Type examination – Get someone else to do it for you. This is available for all machinery & transfers the legal responsibility to a third party.
  3. Full Quality Assurance – Get your internal 9001 system externally accredited to be able to CE mark. Available for all machinery.

What difference does the new UKCA mark mean to me?

Well, first of all there is a transition period, so you can still use the CE Mark in GB  until 1st  January 2022, so we can relax a little bit, but not much.

You will need to use the new UKCA (UK Conformity Assessed) marking immediately after 1 January 2021 if all of the following apply. Your product:

A) is covered by legislation which requires the UKCA marking
B) requires mandatory third-party conformity assessment
C) conformity assessment has been carried out by a UK conformity assessment body and you haven’t transferred your conformity assessment files from your UK body to an EU recognised body before 1 January 2021

Whilst it’s true that the requirements aren’t much different, you will no longer be able to use EN standards to show conformity, so all technical files will need reviewing to ensure they only refer to BS or ISO standards. You will also have to affix a UKCA Mark instead of affixing the CE marking. Those not involved in manufacturing seem to think this is no big deal, but those that are, know that this means a process change which is always difficult.

But what if I sell to both EU & GB markets?

Well, in that case, you now need to have two distinct processes. One for Great Britain supply & one for European Union. There are many standards that are BS EN or ISO & can therefore be used universally, but you need to check your technical files to ensure you don’t refer to BS in the EU & also don’t use EN in the UK Market. 

This also  means that goods manufactured to EU rules, cannot be assessed or approved by a body based in GB. You will need to transfer certificates and authorisations issued by an existing UK-based body or authorised representative to an EU 27-based body or authority if you want to sell into the EU member states.

From 1 January 2021, there are specific requirements for goods sold in Northern Ireland. The Northern Ireland Protocol comes into force. For as long as it is in force, Northern Ireland will align with all relevant EU rules relating to the placing of manufactured goods on the market. You must show that your products meet those rules by using the correct conformity markings. If this assessment is carried out by a UK approved body the product will need to carry a new UK(NI) and CE mark.

What if I'm a user not a supplier?

No surprise, but I’m afraid that it’s not quite that simple, the Provision & Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 (PUWER) has changed too. Regulation 10 currently says;

“Every employer shall ensure that an item of work equipment has been designed and constructed in compliance with any essential requirements, that is to say requirements relating to its design or construction in any of the instruments listed in Schedule 1 (being instruments which give effect to Community Directives concerning the safety of products).”

Schedule 1 in turn refers to The Supply of Machinery (Safety) Regulations, 2008 & from the 1st of January, 2021, these will no longer refer to CE Marking. So this means that ANY work equipment you supply to your employees from this date must now be UKCA & not CE marked. So, on the face of it, you can buy what you like, from where you like, but you will need to UKCA mark it if it isn’t already. As above, only method 2 requires external approval

In the view of Make UK this puts a significant burden on UK businesses during an especially difficult period, so we called the HSE for some advice. They were very helpful & provided us with some very clear guidance that will help allay your fears.
They said;
  • Schedule 12(9) of the Product Safety and Metrology etc (Amendment etc) (EU Exit) Regulations 2019 also provides for a new Regulation 12A to be inserted into the Supply of Machinery (Safety) Regulations, 2008 which allows for the continuing use of the CE mark in certain circumstances.
  • Where a CE marking is affixed in accordance with the provisions of Regulation 12A, the provisions of PUWER can be met.
  • PUWER asks businesses to check machinery is safe. One way of doing this is to see if it has a conformity mark. This still stands as CE marking of machinery in 2012 was done to say the machine had been built to those standards at the time. We would expect business to still check for this as part of their overall assessment of machine safety when buying second hand machinery along with other duties in PUWER. Once the market starts to see more UKCA marked goods, that is what we would expect business to check for (the caveat being it is only an indication of safety, not a guarantee)
In other words, either a CE or the UKCA mark is a way of ensuring conformity with community requirements & meeting that specific requirement of PUWER. Phew!
Make UK appreciate that all these changes can be confusing & we are here to help our members with some new services:
  • Advice on what you need to do to comply with the new requirements
  • Consultancy support for companies wishing to apply UKCA and UKNI/CE marking to their products
  • Consultancy support for companies wishing to import product into GB to achieve UKCA marking
  • Consultancy support for companies wishing to export product from GB to achieve CE marking
  • UKCA/UKNI/CE marking and PUWER compliance consultancy for machinery
  • UKCA Made Simple half-day virtual classroom training course - £594 + VAT
  • Bespoke training for your team on most specific UKCA/UKNI/CE Marking issues

To find out more, email [email protected] or call 0808 168 5874

*If you subscribe to our EHS support package, you can access free advice by emailing [email protected]



Blog / Leaving the EU / HSCE