New Brexit guidance: What does the change in status of UK conformity assessment bodies mean?

The UK Government published a suite of Brexit-related guidance documents on Tuesday, 1 September 2020, providing businesses with updates as to the product compliance landscape to be applicable from 1 January 2021.

In this second update in our short series, we summarise key messages for product manufacturers resulting from the latest guidance in relation to the status of conformity assessment bodies. If you sell/intend to sell products for which mandatory third party conformity assessment is required, keep reading to see how the changes might affect your choice of notified body.

Conformity assessment for the UK

  • The new guidance document confirms that the UK is preparing a legal framework to permit UK conformity assessment bodies to continue to assess "most products" to be placed on the GB market. The UK conformity bodies will no longer be able to assess conformity for the EU.
  • An automatic status conversion will take place for "most" of the existing EU conformity assessment bodies based in the UK, which means that they will become UK-recognised. These UK-recognised bodies will retain the existing 4-digit identification number that they currently use.
  • From 1 January 2021, UK conformity assessment bodies will be able to apply the new UKCA mark for products to be sold in England, Scotland and Wales. (See our first newsflash about the UKCA mark for more on this!)
  • UK-recognised bodies will also be qualified to act as conformity assessment bodies for the Northern Ireland market from 1 January 2021 (according to the August 2020 published Protocol).
  • The UK Government is establishing a new UK database to replace the EU NANDO database of notified bodies.

Conformity assessment for the EU

  • From 1 January 2021, mandatory third-party conformity assessments for products to be sold in the EU market will need to be conducted by an EU-recognised assessment body.
  • In order to facilitate a smooth transition and avoid duplication of process, existing EU notified bodies must share information with UK bodies (and vice versa) when a request is made by a certificate holder.

What does this mean if my business sells into both the UK and EU markets?

  • From the start of 2021, UK conformity assessment bodies will not be able to complete conformity assessments for products to be sold in the EU unless this is agreed in trade negotiations. Watch this space to see whether any further progress is made on this principle of reciprocal recognition.

How do I find out more?

If you would like to read any other recent Brexit guidance published by the UK Government, additional guidance notes can be found here.

The Hogan Lovells Global Products Law team is actively monitoring Brexit-related product compliance developments, and would be delighted to discuss how we can best support your business.

Keep a look out for our next Brexit newsflash addressing placing manufactured goods on the EU and UK markets from 1 January 2021.

Co-author: Associate, Tania Buckthorp

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