Expert Q&A: UKCA Mark

Product marking and certification in the UK are changing. Following the UK’s departure from the European single market, the UKCA mark is a new product marking for use on certain products sold in Great Britain (England, Wales, and Scotland). This will replace most products previously certified by the CE mark. With the certificate deadline extended to January 2023, BSI’s Commercial & Technical Development Manager, Robert Hearty, explains the urgency of submitting complete documentation to ensure you meet compliance requirements promptly and avoid delays.


UKCA certification

Q: Why does BSI need documentation?

Robert: “As an Approved Body for UKCA access to England, Wales and Scotland, it’s critical that BSI receive evidence that manufacturers are conforming to the new regulation requirements for UKCA product marking. New applicants to BSI must supply these documents to demonstrate compliance with regulations and to be issued a certificate. Without these documents, BSI will be unable to issue certification and it could also result in long delays. New applicants need to submit a complete set of documents to BSI with sufficient time so that we can process the certificate before the deadline. Despite the recent extension, clients must allow time for documents and samples to go through the certification process and shouldn’t hesitate to begin now.” 


Q: What documents are required to ensure your application proceeds on time?

Robert: “To apply for UKCA certification, and for it to be processed without delays, your application must contain all of the necessary documents. If you do not already have CE certification with BSI you will need to supply a technical file containing the following:
· Contents list
· Revision history
· Product description (GA drawings, component drawings, materials, intended use)
· Details of the organization
· Risk assessment/compliance with Essential Safety Requirements (ESR)
· Product type test reports
· User information
It is beneficial to include Product marking and draft Declaration of Conformity

We also ask our clients to complete an application form to ensure that the scope of our certification will be right from the outset. Clear guidance documents are provided to clients with each application to make the process smoother.”


Q: What are the risks associated with incomplete documentation?

Robert: “Failure to supply complete documentation can lead to considerable delays. We'll be unable to make a positive UKCA certification recommendation without a complete set of documents demonstrating conformity. In this instance, your application would be placed on hold by our certification managers until the documents have been received and the process can resume. The volume of applications and work for UKCA will likely result in a lead time for our clients, so the earlier you submit your documents, the better. We want to avoid applications being put on hold. To make this easier, we've provided guidance documents showing new applicants how to put together a technical file.

We have a quick and simple process for our existing CE certificate holders to gain UKCA certification, so they won't have to worry about resubmitting a technical file."


Q: What are the risks associated with not achieving UKCA by the deadline?

Robert: “Currently, we've already left the EU and are in a transition period which allows CE-marked product to continue to be placed on the market in Great Britain. Due to time running out for UK businesses and organizations (which are placing products on the GB market) to adapt to the new regulations, an extension has been deemed necessary. The end of the transition period has now been extended to December 2022. After this date, the CE mark will no longer be accepted and UCKA will be required.

The department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy has recently made clear that there won’t be another extension. Even with the granted extension, the enormity of the task UKCA poses for the limited number of Approved Bodies is clear. BSI has increased capacity and refined processes to efficiently process the volume of applicants, however, we're constantly receiving more UKCA applications. If clients risk sending documents very close to the deadline a backlog will inevitably form. The recent extension has provided some reprieve but it’s important that businesses use this time to put UKCA in place – holding off for another year will produce a similar predicament. I’d ask our clients to consider how much the GB market is worth to their business and if delaying the required certification is worth any break in selling a product that requires the new UKCA mark when enforced? It's feasible that you could save some money by delaying an application… but is it worth the risk?”


Q: How easy is it to transfer from a European Notified Body to BSI?

Robert: “The UK regulations are similar to the EU directives and regulations, with the underlying standards being exactly the same. This means that manufacturers shouldn't need to do the testing again. Do remember, however, that it is a different regulation to which compliance is being claimed and so some changes will be necessary for certification. CE or UKCA marking is applied by the manufacturer which is supported by certification. They therefore, need to ensure that they’re claiming compliance with the correct regulation in the technical file. Manufacturers will also need to update their technical files and pay specific attention to the Declaration of Conformity and product marking.

BSI’s Netherlands location has Notified Body status and is supporting clients with the creation of BSI UKCA certificates in addition to their BSI CE certificates. This process is relatively straightforward as BSI has already established evidence of compliance. Our client’s will simply need to complete an application form before the certification is supplemented with an additional UKCA certificate. Our customers will in most cases maintain their existing CE certificate which I would expect to be a common scenario as dual marking will allow access to both GB and EU markets.

It can be more complex with applications from manufacturers with CE certificates from other EU Notified Bodies. The Approved Body issuing the UKCA certificate will be responsible for the UK certification so the evaluation must be robust and thorough.

A possible route that some manufactures may want to take is to transfer CE certification to BSI and then to take advantage of applying for UKCA during 2022, however they should not delay too long given the expected increase in demand for UKCA next year.

For manufacturers that are dual marking then it’s possible to use a single technical file for both, providing the requirements for both are met in terms of language requirements for their destination markets and as long as there is no significant divergence between CE and UKCA requirements.”


Q: Can we expect delays in achieving our UKCA certification?

Robert: “Our quotations are built with sufficient lead and turnaround times. For us to achieve these we'll need to receive all documents, as requested. All factory assessments will also need to be completed with any non-conformities closed.

Any time that product type tests are on hold, waiting for corrective actions to be resolved is likely to delay the certificate by the same amount of time. Our quotations cover the time required to undertake the evaluation but don’t include any time on hold waiting for documents or corrections. Our anticipated delivery times are valid for the period in which they are issued. It is likely as UKCA applications grow and the transition deadline approaches, that these lead times will grow. I would strongly encourage our clients to get their documents and samples to us as soon as possible to avoid delays.”

Act now to preserve access to the GB market, provide reassurance to your customers, and remain compliant.

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