by Jess Sharman
Adopting new terminology
To begin, here is a shortlist of some of the terms and definitions that you’ll need to familiarise yourself with to understand and navigate the new rules. We’ll explore these in further detail later in the article:
- Great Britain (GB) market – includes England, Wales and Scotland but excludes Northern Ireland.
- Northern Ireland (NI) market – Northern Ireland now has its own set of marking rules.
- Conformity assessment and certifying bodies.
- Notified Bodies (NBs) are EU certifying bodies for CE marking purposes.
- Approved Bodies (ABs) are UK certifying bodies for UKCA and UKNI marking purposes
- Marking designations
- CE – continues to apply to both the EU and Northern Ireland markets.
- UKCA –applies to products on the GB market certified by a UK AB.
- UKNI applies to products on the Northern Ireland market that have been conformity assessed by a UK AB. Note that the UKNI is not a stand-alone mark but will accompany the CE mark when required.
- Designated standards – the UK’s replacement for existing harmonised European standards (hENs). Please note that the two standards sets are currently fully aligned with no differences or deviations. This will help ensure an easier transition to the new protocols.
Construction Products Regulation in Great Britain and Northern Ireland
Before Brexit, EU Construction Products Regulation provided the harmonised rules for marketing construction products in the EU single market. Through it, declarations of performance and CE marking were made mandatory for many construction products sold in the UK.
As a part of Brexit, the EU stopped recognising any CE marking certifications issued by UK NBs as of 01 January 2021. In response, the UK Government created new legislation to regulate UK market-bound construction products from this point forward. This includes the designation change for UK certifying bodies from NBs (notified bodies) to ABs (approved bodies). To read the amendment documents, see:
- Construction Products (Amendments, etc.) (EU Exit) Regulations 2019
- Construction Products (Amendments, etc.) (EU Exit) Regulations 2020
Also, as of 01 January 2021, any UK- or EU-based manufacturer or distributor wanting to continue trading within the UK must adopt new marking regulations, either immediately or by the end of the transition period, depending on the product. Note that the UK is now divided into two groups, with new regulations for the NI market differing from those for GB.
- Existing products CE marked before 01 January 2021 are still eligible for sale on all affected markets, and manufacturers have until 01 January 2022 to adopt new marking protocols.
- For manufacturers placing new products on the market from 01 January 2021, the following applies:
- EU market –you will need a CE certificate issued by an EU NB.
- GB market – requires a UKCA certificate issued by a UK AB.
- NI market – all products will still require a CE mark; however, any products certified by a UK AB must additionally carry a UKNI mark.
Construction Products Regulation in Northern Ireland provides guidance on new regulations applying to goods placed on the NI market or goods placed on the GB market from NI.
How the new CE, UKCA and UKNI marking works
The new UKCA and UKNI marks will either replace or complement CE marking, serving as a manufacturer’s declaration that their products conform with all relevant safety legislation in the market for which they are intended. As of 01 January 2022:
- All products currently requiring a CE mark will require a UKCA mark if sold in the GB market.
- Any CE marked products destined for the EU market must be certified by an EU NB.
- Products destined for the NI market that have been certified by a UK AB will require a UKNI mark in addition to their CE marking.
The timeline and specifics of adopting the new markings will depend upon product specifics:
- Is the applicable product new, or was it CE marked before 01 January 2021?
- What country is your company based in, and in which market are you selling?
- Does a UK designated standard cover the product?
- Was the conformity assessment carried out by a UK AB or an EU NB?
- Was the ETA issued by a UK or EU technical approval body (TAB)?
Products CE marked before 01 January 2021
As mentioned earlier, CE marking will continue to be recognised for existing products on the GB market until 01 January 2022. At this point, CE marking will be solely for products heading for the EU market. Northern Ireland will continue to use CE marking; however, products certified by a UK AB will also require the additional UKNI marking.
UKCA marking applies to products for the Great Britain (England, Wales and Scotland) market. All new applicable products entering the GB market from 01 January 2021 must carry UKCA marking, and all existing products must transition to the new mark no later than 01 January 2022.
Like a CE mark, the UKCA mark must be visible on the product. The exception is when the product’s size or nature makes it impossible to do that. In that case, the mark must appear on an affixed label, packaging or any accompanying documentation and supporting literature.
- The manufacturer takes full responsibility for the product(s) conformity to the relevant legislation.
- The marking must be placed by the manufacturer or an authorised representative when allowed by legislation.
- The UKCA mark only applies to products with a relevant legislative requirement and cannot be used for any purpose other than to assure product conformity.
- The mark must be visible, and no additional markings can be placed that might misconstrue the meaning of the mark or affect its visibility or legibility.
Because the EU doesn’t recognise UKCA marking in the EU, applicable products sold to the EU will need to be CE marked. If a product is bound for both the EU and GB markets, it can carry both CE and UKCA markings as long as both marks are visible with no overlap.
To read more about UKCA marking rules, including use, sizing, and record-keeping or to download the image file, visit the Government’s Using the UKCA marking guidance webpage.
UKNI marking applies to products on the Northern Ireland market. It’s important to note that this new marking supplements CE marking; it doesn’t replace it. Products certified by an EU NB can continue to carry the CE mark alone. However, products certified by a UK AB must have both the CE and UKNI marks. To read more about using the UKNI mark, visit the Using the UKNI marking guidance webpage.
Under the post-Brexit Northern Ireland protocol of unfettered access, qualifying NI products placed on the GB market do not require a UKCA mark. They can carry either CE marking alone or both CE and UKNI marking. Please visit Moving qualifying goods from Northern Ireland to the rest of the UK to learn more.
Declaration of conformity, declaration of performance and third-party certification
Declaration of conformity (DOC)
A DOP gives a manufacturer a way to relay essential product characteristics like fire resistance or airtightness. This helps ensure that the selected product is suitable for the purpose as stated and provides a level of assurance that the product will perform as needed under desired conditions.
A DOP is required when placing a product on the market either covered by a hEN or UK designated standard or issued with a European Technical Assessment (ETA). The DOP defines how the product performs against the essential characteristics defined in the relevant standard and is the manufacturer’s formal acceptance of responsibility for their product performing as declared.
In addition to a DOP and/ or DOC, third-party certification is often advisable, depending on the product. By obtaining this additional documentation level, the manufacturer ensures that the product and its manufacturing process have been reviewed by an unrelated, independent organisation who has determined that the product has been thoroughly tested and complies with all applicable quality, performance and safety standards.
On 01 January 2021, all existing applicable hENs became UK designated standards. The government maintains a list of designated standards for construction products on the GOV.UK website. Currently, hENs and UK designated standards are identical; however, it is logical to assume that, over time, differences will develop.
Post-Brexit specification and NBS
We want to reassure our existing customers that we will continue to provide you with the service and support you are accustomed to, allowing you to specify from wherever you are and find the construction products you need for your project. Our teams are hard at work – discerning what is changing, what may change in the future and how it will affect our customers and the wider construction industry. Because evolution doesn’t happen overnight, we are continuously monitoring the situation and adapting accordingly. If you have any questions, please contact our support team. We are here to help.
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