CE marks authorised by UK will no longer be valid within the EU

From 1st January new rules will apply to those exporting to GB, as well as those buying from it


That’s the date on which the Brexit transition period ends, and the UK finally leaves the EU.

New Year’s Day is a Red Letter one for Irish businesses trading with the UK. It marks the end of the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement transition period and the beginning of the UK’s new status as a Third Country, outside the EU.

Regardless of the outcome of trade talks, this means:

  • Significant changes to the certification rules governing Irish exports to the UK
  • New certification requirements for Irish manufacturers bringing parts in from the UK
  • Greater legal responsibility as former Irish ‘distributors’ of UK goods become ‘importers’ to the EU



Get properly certified

“If you receive products from the UK, you should assess your responsibilities under EU law now.” – Mary White

Irish companies exporting to the UK must take steps now to ensure their products are correctly certified. Failure to do so could see goods impounded.

Currently, goods that are compliant with EU legislation carry the CE mark. However, if your product’s CE mark is authorised by a UK standards assessment body, known as Notified Bodies, that certification will no longer be valid within the EU.

“If your organisation relies on certificates, licenses or authorisations for goods or services which have been issued by UK Authorities, or by UK-based Notified Bodies – or are held by someone established in the UK – these will no longer be valid within the EU, post-Brexit,” warns Mary White, Head of the Brexit Unit at the National Standards Authority of Ireland (NSAI).

Companies in such a position need to transfer certification – or seek new certification – from a Notified Body or Authority within the EU-27 member states. “The sooner you do it the better,” she says.


New responsibilities

From 1st January the legal rules surrounding some business activities will change.

Anyone who previously acted as a distributor of goods originating in the UK will now become an importer of those goods and take on significantly more responsibility for ensuring they conform to EU standards. That applies for component parts, as well as finished goods.

“If you receive products from the UK, you should assess your responsibilities under EU law now.  It is likely that post-Brexit, if you buy goods from the UK you will be considered as an importer for the purposes of EU product legislation.  This means you will have another set of obligations under EU law depending on the sector,” says White.

If you import from the UK, you will now be required to keep additional information on file too, so engage with your UK suppliers to obtain this information as soon as possible.



CE becomes UKCA

“Remind your UK customers that they will become ‘importers’ under UK law.” – Mary White

Come 1st January Irish products placed on the UK market will be subject to UK legislation.

New UK regulations stipulate that any product that requires a Declaration of Conformity will have to have this carried out by a UK Approved Body, as opposed to an EU-27 Notified Body.

To be traded in Great Britain the goods must be marked not with the CE mark but with a new mark the UK has introduced, UKCA (Conformity Assessed).

Until 31st December 2021, CE marked products will still be allowed to be placed on the UK market.

“Remind your UK customers that they will become ‘importers’ under UK law, and they will be required to be able to access a copy of your product’s technical file. You should prepare this information now, so that it will be available to your UK customers after 1st January 2021,” says White.


Regulatory divergence 

In January the UK will have UK legislation coming into force similar to current EU legislation. However, “What they don’t say is whether they will update this legislation when the EU amends its legislation,” says White.

At present there are 32 pieces of EU legislation covering manufactured products here, in the form of both directives and regulations.

Several EU directives currently under review, including the Machinery Directive. “The UK will not be obliged to update their legislation as they will not be bound to EU rules, hence, there will be divergence,” she warns.


Act now 

“My message for Irish manufacturers that require their product to be certified under a particular piece of EU legislation is to first, ensure that your certification is carried out by an EU-27 based Notified Body from the 1st January 2021.” – Mary White

If you use a UK Notified Body, check to see if it has established itself in an EU-27 Member State, as some have relocated, she points out. In Ireland there are now 16 Notified Bodies who undertake conformity assessments, up from three just two years ago.

If yours hasn’t relocated to the EU-27, check the EU NANDO (New Approach Notified and Designated Organisations) website to look through its database of 1500 Notified Bodies  [https://ec.europa.eu/growth/tools-databases/nando/]  to find an alternative.


Transfer your files

“From 1st January, UK Notified Bodies can no longer certify your product and issue the CE mark,” says White.

“You can transfer your existing technical file from the UK NB to an EU based NB up until the 31st December. Otherwise, you will have to get your product recertified, and this can take several weeks to transfer.”


  • if you currently CE mark your product under EU rules, you will still have to, post Brexit.
  • if you rely on a UK Notified Body for the certification of conformity that underpins your CE mark either you will need to transfer your technical specification files from your UK Notified Body to an EU-27 one, or
  • you will need to obtain a new certificate that has been issued by an EU-27 Notified Body
  • if you do this post-Brexit, you will automatically be required to start with a new application.



EU Declaration of Conformity 

Make sure to have your Declaration of Conformity documentation in order, a requirement for CE marked goods.

“If you are an Irish manufacturer and are currently importing a CE certified component from the UK after the 1st January, you are now importing from a Third Country,” reminds White.

A copy of the Declaration of Conformity for the certified component needs to be available at the point of entry, demonstrating that the product has been certified by an EU-27 Notified Body.

All products certified by a UK Notified Body must be placed on the market before Brexit occurs or else will need to be recertified.

As long as the certified product is in transit, and an invoice has been generated by the Irish manufacturer or importer of the goods before 11pm on 31st December 2020, “this product can still be placed on the EU market, even if it does not arrive until March,” she points out.


EU Declaration of Performance

Goods being placed on the market in England, Scotland and Wales will have to have UKCA marking, with conformity assessment carried out by a UK approved body.

As well as a UKCA mark, such goods will need UK Declaration of Performance documentation to support them.

There is a transition period in which CE marking will still be permissible, giving Irish companies time to get their UK certifications in order.

The UKCA mark will be required for industrial products from January 2022, and for medical devices from July 2023.

Although a new mark CE UK (NI) is also being introduced, EU rules will continue to apply to goods moving to and from Northern Ireland, with no significant changes there, she says.


Finally, don’t trip over a pallet

ISPM 15 is an international phytosanitary measure developed by the International Plant Protection Convention (IPCC) that sets down standards for the treatment and marketing of wood packaging material (WPM) such as the pallets and crates used in international trade.

Under EU Regulations, certain minimum standards apply and those that have attained the requisite standard are heat treated and stamped.

Currently ISPM15 is a requirement for WPM entering the EU from Third Countries. It does not currently apply to EU UK trade.

However, from 1st January 2021 the UK becomes a Third Country and ISPM15 becomes a requirement.

“As of now, there are in excess of 100 million pallets in the UK, 90% of which do not have this mark,” says White. As all WPM may be subject to official checks either upon or after entry to the EU, now is the time to discuss this issue with your UK trade partners.


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Dr Suraya Diaz: Taking a healthy approach to customs

LEO Prepare Your Business for Customs programme is helping small businesses put their best foot forward for Brexit

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Dr Suraya Diaz knows it’s better to be proactive than reactive. When it comes to wellness, prevention is better than cure. When it comes to business, it’s all about preparation. For Brexit, it means signing up for a Local Enterprise Office Prepare Your Business for Customs workshop.

That’s exactly what the Galway based health store owner and maker of organic food, cosmetics and wellness products did. Indeed, Brexit is the reason the Portuguese woman moved to Ireland to start a business in the first place.

She had studied biochemistry and biology in Portugal and completed a master’s degree in clinical microbiology before moving to the UK to do a PhD in biochemistry and molecular biology where she studied infectious diseases.

“I wanted to understand the mechanics of infection,” she explains. “But I also always wanted to start a business.”

At around the time she finished her PhD, talk in the UK was turning to a Brexit referendum. That prompted a move to Galway, where she worked as a researcher, studied nutrition, herbal medicine, naturopathy and homeopathy and set up a practice helping to promote wellness in others.

When she couldn’t find products with the exact blend of ingredients she needed for her clients, she decided to make them herself. She developed a range of certified organic products, opening a small manufacturing facility in 2019, which she expanded in 2020 with assistance from Local Enterprise Office Galway.

Today her products sell online and via health food stores and pharmacies.

“The Local Enterprise Office has been very helpful and I have availed of various different courses and vouchers.

As well as providing me with grants for machinery and marketing, it enabled me to employ my first member of staff. I am also doing a Lean for Micro course which is very important in helping to improve efficiencies,” says Suraya.

She has also benefited from a number of LEO business mentors. “Sometimes, when you are starting a business, you can be so focused on the thing that you are doing now that it can be hard to see the whole business in its totality. Mentors really helped me with that. They gave me a new perspective and made me question things.”

Participating in Enterprise Ireland’s New Frontiers programme, Phase I and II, helped too. “It’s a very comprehensive programme and I’d definitely recommend it. I had a background in biochemistry, nutrition, naturopathy and herbal medicine but I didn’t have a business background.”

In order to be fully Brexit ready, she signed up for the Prepare Your Business for Customs workshop.

Being Brexit Ready

“Because I was already aware of Brexit, I had tried to limit my UK suppliers as much as possible from the start. As a result, the majority of my suppliers are not in the UK,” she points out.

But with the UK accounting for 70% of her sales, ensuring UK exports are as seamless as possible is vital.

“I am trying to go to other markets as well including Spain, the Netherlands and Germany but the reason my exports grew in the UK so much was because of Amazon. With Covid-19, many more UK people were at home and, when a shortage of stock emerged from their usual suppliers they started looking for an alternative, and it was an opportunity for me,” she explains.

But the more she sold into the UK, the more important it was to make sure she was Brexit-ready.

“I did the Local Enterprise Office Prepare Your Business for Customs workshop because I wanted to be informed and I wanted a good overview of what was ahead of me.

I also wanted to understand things like INCOTERMS. The lecturers were very informative and, at the end of the session it was very interesting to hear what the other businesses were saying and doing too.”

In terms of tariffs, regulations and possible trade restrictions, there is still a lot of uncertainty, she points out.

“The biggest challenge is that we don’t know exactly what is coming or how expensive it will be. However, because

I did the LEO Prepare Your Business for Customs programme, I know I have done all the right things, like registering for my EORI (Economic Operators Registration and Identification) number. I know the things I need to look out for and it gave me the tools I need to talk to a customs broker.”

As a result, whatever happens after midnight on December 31st, when the UK finally leaves the EU, Dr Suraya Diaz is ready for it. “I am a positive person anyway, but I think I will be okay. Although we will all feel the impact of Brexit, at the same time I think it will open many doors to us.

There are so many customers out there in Europe who are currently buying from the UK. Those UK businesses might struggle to deliver in Europe,” she says. “Ireland can find some very important opportunities there. I’m hopeful I can take advantage of that.”

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Triskell Seafood: Utilised LEO supports to prepare for customs

How a LEO Prepare Your Business for Customs workshop helped Triskell Seafood get ready for Brexit

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Marie-Aude Danguy, Triskell Seafood

1st January is a red-letter day for businesses all over Ireland. It’s the date Brexit becomes a reality and the UK leaves the EU.

Staff at Sligo based Triskell Seafood are all set to manage the changes it will bring to customs procedures, thanks to participation in a Prepare Your Business for Customs, a dedicated customs workshop offered by Local Enterprise Offices.

Triskell Seafood was set up by French woman Marie-Aude Danguy, a native of Brittany who came to Ireland in the 1990s as part of the Erasmus student exchange programme and loved it so much she never left.

She had marketing and language skills which she put to work helping local oyster growers to access new markets in France, initially working from home.

Today her business is based in a business park in Collooney and has expanded its services significantly.

“We started off trading oysters and then saw a gap in the market to provide the equipment that growers required, such as oyster bags, oil skins, trestles and seed,” explains Brona Galvin, Triskell Seafood’s Office Manager.

Exporting oysters and importing kit meant it needed to get to grips with new customs arrangements likely to be introduced on foot of Brexit.

“Our customers are expediteurs (traders) in France, the Netherlands and the UK, who supply their local market. We are the middlemen between the expediteurs and the growers, so a huge amount of what we do is about logistics and marketing,” she says.

“But we also supply oyster seed, equipment and clothing, as well as presentation packaging like wooden boxes, to growers here in Ireland and abroad.”

Brona, who has a finance background, knew it was vital to put the right systems and processes in place to ensure the business could continue to trade in and through the UK, and remain fully compliant.

That meant talking to logistics partners in Ireland, on the Continent, and in the UK, to make sure they were Brexit ready too. A particular concern for her was the onward transfer of goods via the UK landbridge, and what implications it might have in terms of cost, paperwork and possible delays.

“When Local Enterprise Office Sligo advertised a Prepare Your Business for Customs course, we had to do it,” she says.

“We wanted to gain a broad knowledge of what we needed to do and how to do it. I wanted to know how to structure our Brexit plans, and how to liaise with haulage partners on it, whether to do clearances in house or through customs agents, and, if the latter, how to deal with customs agents.”

Getting it wrong is simply not an option. “If you don’t fill in the forms correctly online, you could hold up a whole truck, with everyone else’s goods on board. Oysters being exported, and oyster seed imported, are live and have a short window in which they can survive out of water,” she explains

Questions Answered


The Prepare Your Business for Customs workshop answered all her questions – and more.

“It was very helpful and fascinating to hear from the other participants as well. Some of them were manufacturers who make goods, send them across the border to Northern Ireland for amending, and then bring them back. They were really worried about what customs would mean for them. It made me think thank goodness we’re selling oysters!”

Some of Triskell Seafood’s growers live in Northern Ireland, so she needed to find out about the implications for them however.

“Other concerns I had were in relation to commodity codes. If you are importing an oyster knife, for example, and the handle is plastic, but the blade is steel, how do you decide which is the more significant component?”

The company applied for its EORI number, and registered for UK VAT.

“The workshop provided great reassurance in that it showed us we had a lot of the information required in our systems already. That helped us get ready to talk to customs agents.”

Completing the workshop enabled the company to make all the preparations it required. “In the end it wasn’t as daunting as I had feared it would be. I had been worried there would be different commodity codes in different countries but they’re the same. If I hadn’t done the Prepare your Business for Customs workshop, it would have been a lot more scary.”

Over the years Triskell Seafood has benefited from a wide range of Local Enterprise Office supports, she says, including financial ones such as Business

Expansion and Technical Assistance grants, and productivity and innovation supports, such as its Lean for Micro programme and social media marketing training. It has also benefited from mentoring.

“The LEOs have been very good to Triskell Seafood and our sister company Triskell Pro,” says Brona. “We get great support from them and we avail of all the grants and support they offer, to help us grow our business.”

She recommends any business that still needs to assess the impact of Brexit to sign up now for a customs workshop.

“It’s about knowing you’ve done what you need to do, to prepare. In our case, we’ll be back shipping oysters from 2nd January, and we’ve stocked up our imports as much as possible to give a comfort zone from 1st January,” she says.

“We also know all the customs related questions to ask of our clients. We have the knowledge we need and we wouldn’t have it if it weren’t for the LEOs. I’m much more confident now.”

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Hubbcat: Clear communications on customs supported firm’s growth

Being able to turn to its Local Enterprise Office for help with customs training has been of enormous benefit to Wicklow technology company Hubbcat.

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Simon Smith (CFO Hubbcat)

As well as looking to develop export sales, the communications equipment company imports kit from –

and through – the UK. Indeed, the business had an international aspect to it even before it was founded, in late 2019. That’s because the team behind it spent many years working together in the Caribbean, in the telecoms sector. Chief Financial Officer Simon Smith met friends and co-founders Alan Bates and Damian Blackburn while he was on a consulting assignment in the Bahamas.

“Alan, who is from Greystones in Co. Wicklow, always wanted to come back to Ireland to start a business,” explains Simon.

The founders had spotted a gap in the market for ‘push to talk’ (PTT) communications solutions. It allows for devices that combine walkie talkie technology with mobile phones, a better value alternative that allows people to talk instantly via the Internet.

Whether there are 10 or 100 people who need to communicate instantly, PTT can facilitate that. It works regardless of whether they are in different parts of a factory, or different parts of the globe.

Hubbcat’s first office was over a mechanic’s workshop near Greystones, Co. Wicklow. It wasn’t ideal. “We’d have to run downstairs and ask the guys if they could stop working while we pitched for business,” he laughs.

Despite the challenges this posed, one of its first wins was a major one – to supply a Covid-19 solution to

the Government of the Bahamas. Hubbcat’s solution allows visitors to the country to be monitored as they quarantine, with app-based geofencing that emits an alarm if a person quarantining breaks the rules.

The wider applications for PTT technology are simply enormous, he points out. “It’s a one size fits all communications system for workforces. They can use it as an app that sits on top of their mobile phones or via a custom device, which we supply too,” he explains.

Among its most compelling use cases are hospitality and events management, where large numbers of staff often need to keep in constant contact in a cost effective and reliable manner.

Because of the pandemic however the founders have focused first on facilities management, helping personnel to keep one another safe as they move around large and possibly empty buildings. Hubbcat can provide security and peace of mind with a ‘man down’ alert that combines a panic button with geolocation.

Local Enterprise Office the first step for exports – and imports

One of the founders’ first ports of call when setting up the business was Local Enterprise Office Wicklow which provided it with a Priming Grant, a Trading Online Voucher and mentoring.

As Hubbcat grew it moved into a local enterprise park – away from noisy car repairs – and expanded its customer base by moving into sectors such as pharmaceutical manufacturing and international food retail.

It doesn’t just export its solutions overseas, it also imports equipment, including PTT devices, from a range of countries. This includes items that are either sourced from the UK or sourced elsewhere, but which travel through the UK to get here.

It’s for that reason that Simon signed up for the Local Enterprise Office’s Prepare Your Business for Customs workshop which, because of Covid, took place online, in three two-hour sessions. “We are pitching for business in Northern Ireland and the UK so we needed to understand how new customs arrangements post-Brexit would impact on that,” he says.

The company is currently focusing on selling to facilities management companies in Ireland which are major international businesses, such as Brinks, Bidvest Noonan and Mitie.

“These are global operators. If we can grow our customer base here in Ireland with some of these global companies, we can get recommendations from them to help us grow internationally. To do that, we need to know about customs,” he explains.

The Prepare your Business for Customs programme answered all his questions. “It was really good, really detailed and the expert trainer who gave the workshop was really insightful. There are an awful lot of rules and regulations involved but the workshop helped me to get to grips with them, both in terms of software and of bringing in physical goods.”

Although Hubbcat already has experience exporting to the Bahamas, “UK and EU customs are completely different,” he points out. “The workshop explained about duty and International Commercial Terms (INCOTERMS) and outlined some of the risks and things to look out for, as well as where to go for help.”

It was highly interactive, he says, so that all participants were able to find the specific answers to questions they had about their own business.

“It’s good to know too that, in the Local Enterprise Office, I have a support network, somewhere I can go to if I’ve queries in the future.”

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VRAI: Finding opportunities for growth in Brexit times

It’s often been said that successful businesses look for the opportunities in every situation – but undoubtedly the challenges thrown up in 2020 have tested this theory to the max.

Niall Campion & Pat O’Connor


Irish company VRAI, which provides data-driven virtual reality training for “risky, remote & rare” industries, decided to face the challenges head-on, and subsequently discovered that both Covid-19 and Brexit gave them the opportunity to advance their business plans and grow.

“When Covid hit, the general advice was to hunker down, but we had a different idea, and that was to look at the opportunities and how our technologies could help the situation,” explains co-founder Pat O’Connor. “Our opportunity was in training. Zoom is great for a meeting or a workshop but try training someone for an offshore wind turbine through Zoom – it’s not going to work. We found that when we went to market for investment, there seems to be an understanding that there isn’t a platform out there to enable remote training in the same way that there is a platform available for remote meetings and calls. So Covid has brought forward those market opportunities for us.”

Brexit also brought its challenges, as it has for every business, but for VRAI, it was a no-brainer to mitigate the risk and set up a UK office, which opened in Gateshead in October 2020. “The UK market is very important for us – it’s so close to us geographically, but it’s also one of the largest economies in the world,” says Pat. “A lot of the big companies that we would deal with would have large offices in the UK.

“Specifically, we chose the Northeast for many reasons. 5,000 computer science students are graduating every year, the National Innovation Centre for Data is located in Newcastle, which ties into VRAI data focus. The Port of Tyne is the base for the Dogger Bank, currently the biggest offshore wind farm in the world.. And finally, we are based in the Proto Centre in Gateshead, which is described as the first immersive technology hub in the UK. The decision to open an office there became a no-brainer.”

Accelerating plans

“Imagine your first day working on an offshore wind turbine 100km from the coast of Scotland, waves as big as your house and the turbine the size of the Eiffel Tower – it’s very difficult to prepare for that scenario properly without some sort of simulation training.”

The features being developed for their HEAT VR training platform came from the company’s experience in dealing with large companies such as the IAG in Heathrow Airport, the United Nations in Somalia, and other Fortune 500 companies. “We learnt that there was a need for an underlying technology platform that enables simulation training,” says Pat. “There are three main parts to the platform – there’s the front end, where you can create training profiles for your employees, then the middle part, which is the simulation training in VR, and finally the back end, the data analytics and insights. We found that VR is an incredible medium for collecting data, as we’re producing about 100,000 data points per minute in terms of who you are, where you are and what you’re doing in the virtual world. We’re now adding biometric sensors, so you can also measure how you’re feeling. We can then analyse this data to improve performance and safety, and personalise training for individuals.”

One of the industries targeted by the company as ideal for their technology is the offshore wind sector. This feeds nicely into the company’s decision to open an office in Gateshead (as the UK is No.1 in the world for offshore wind, particularly in Scotland and the Northeast of England) – as well as their commitment to the “triple bottom line”.

“The triple bottom line means you focus not just on profit but also on your people and the planet,” explains Pat. “For instance, regarding people, we are committed to a gender-balanced workforce. We are trying to do something about it by committing to a gender-balanced shortlist for every job and sponsored Ireland’s first-ever female-only tech apprenticeship.

“On the planet side, we made a decision to look into how we can use our technologies to help the offshore wind industry grow, as this is definitely a ‘risky, remote and rare’ activity, but it also aligns very much with our desire to creating a sustainable business.”

Enterprise Ireland, which established an Offshore Wind Cluster in 2019, proved invaluable to VRAI when moving into the offshore wind industry. We are a part of HPSU with Enterprise Ireland,” explains Pat. “However, they’ve also been really great at helping us understand the market and make those introductions that are so valuable. It’s been a really symbiotic and useful relationship.”