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.
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.
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.
“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.