Houses of Parliament London


Post-Brexit Product Conformity

Sep. 9 2019

With the latest chaos in Parliament comes greater uncertainty over the UK’s plan to leave the European Union. Will negotiators from the UK Government and EU be able to agree a deal by October 19th? Will Boris Johnson challenge the law to prevent leaving with a No Deal? Will the leaving date be extended again? Will we even leave the EU at all?

All of this has left organisations across all sectors, from retail and banking, to farming and manufacturing, asking valid questions about all aspects of their business. The Government has launched its ‘Get Set for Brexit’ information campaign, but what about specific questions relating to product conformity and compliance?  

As global leaders in testing, inspection and certification (TIC), Bureau Veritas supports clients worldwide and we will continue to do so even after the United Kingdom leaves the EU. As part of this – and whilst we await greater clarification on the UK’s next steps - here we answer some of the main questions being posed to our teams from manufacturers asking about the conformity of their products.

What would be the implication on product conformity of a No Deal Brexit?

For UK organisations that manufacture for and distribute to a UK market without exporting, there will be minimal change. Current statutory inspections will still apply and for those manufacturing goods under any of the Notified Bodies registered in the UK, they will simply be issued with a UKCA certificate in place of the traditional CE certificate. This does not mean that any of the standards have changed, just that the UK registered Notified Bodies are unable to use the CE mark as evidence of compliance.

The major change comes for organisations which export UK-manufactured goods after the official leaving date. From this point UK bodies would not be recognised by the EU; manufacturers will therefore not be able to identify those goods as complying with the EU standard and so will not be able to place them on the European market without the approval of a recognised European Notified body.   

What if Article 50 was extended beyond October 31st?

The UK has been in a transition period for the past two years and this would inevitably continue. Any extension to Article 50 would mean that we are still part of the EU and we can continue to trade with unfettered access both for imports and exports. There has been a lot of work taking place across Bureau Veritas to make sure we are ready for any eventuality.

And if the UK does not leave the EU?

Of course, if for whatever reason we do not leave the EU, then the UK will continue to trade as normal. Importers and exporters will be able to use any notified body to evidence conformity throughout Europe to place goods on any market in the union.

What steps can businesses take to protect themselves during this period of uncertainty?

If you are manufacturing in the UK and exporting to Europe, you need to immediately check with your Notified Body to ensure they have aligned both themselves and you with a Notified Body based outside of the UK. As an organisation have already been talking to our clients, advising them of the process and providing them with details of the Notified Bodies we work with across the EU. If you haven’t ha this conversation with your Notified Body or you are not aware, we would strongly recommend you have the conversation as soon as possible.

If the UK leaves the EU on October 31st or later without a deal and you are not aligned to a European Notified Body, then your goods technically do not meet the requirements of the EU.

If you are an importer it is less clear, but in the event of a No Deal Brexit it is likely that there will be a transition period of up to 24 months during which the UK will continue to recognise the CE Mark. After this period ends, it would be expected that any goods placed on the UK market would attain the UKCA mark.

How can Bureau Veritas support with this?

On the exit date, Bureau Veritas UK (as with all other UK Notified Bodies) will no longer be authorised to issue CE Mark certificates for goods to be exported to the EU market. However, we have worked hard to ensure we can continue to provide a valuable service to our clients.

Thanks to our close collaboration with the wider Bureau Veritas global group network, we will still be able to provide our clients with this service for pressure equipment, lift and machinery directives.

In addition, on the exit date Bureau Veritas UK will be automatically recognised as a UK Approved Body. This means we will be able to issue conformity assessment certificates according to the UK local regulations.

Want to know more?

The BEIS has produced a valuable questionnaire to support businesses as the UK prepares to leave the EU. You can find it here.

There are also a number of handy guides available online, including this one for organisations placing manufactured goods on the EU internal market if there is no deal, and this one for placing manufactured goods on the UK market.