Following the UK’s exit from the European Union the CE Mark has continued to be used in the UK. More information concerning when to use CE marking can be found in this article.
CE marking is a certification which is awarded to certain goods within the EU. The CE Mark is used to illustrate that the goods concerned comply with all applicable EU-wide legal requirements. In some cases, the CE Mark may be put on the accompanying documents.
CE marking facilitates the free circulation of goods throughout the European Union. EU states cannot make further requirements in relation to standards for the goods.
Following the UK’s exit from the European Union the CE Mark has also continued to be used in the UK. More information concerning when to use CE marking can be found within this article.
How should a CE mark appear?
The CE marking must be visible, legible and indelible. The marking must consist of the initials "CE". Both letters should have the same vertical dimension and be no smaller than 5mm (unless specified differently in the relevant product requirements).
- This information about product certification from the National Standards Authority of Ireland explains more.
- The Health and Safety Authority have a helpful range of questions and answers for selling goods on the EU Single Market.
- UK has guidance about how a product complies with EU safety, health and environmental requirements, and how to place a CE marking on your product.
What goods are subject to CE marking requirements?
CE marking applies to goods subject to specific, legally binding product requirements.
The categories of goods covered are listed below. Each is subject to separate rules. The rules are broadly similar but differ in their detail. Some categories are very broad, such as those covering low-voltage equipment and construction products.
- Active implantable medical devices
- Appliances burning gaseous fuels
- Cableway installations designed to carry persons
- Construction products
- Eco-design of energy-related products
- Electromagnetic compatibility
- Equipment and protective systems intended for use in potentially explosive atmospheres
- Explosives for civil uses
- Hot-water boilers
- Household refrigerators and freezers
- In-vitro diagnostic medical devices
- Low voltage equipment
- Measuring instruments
- Medical devices
- Noise emission in the environment
- Non-automatic weighing instruments
- Personal protective equipment
- Pressure equipment
- Radio and telecommunications terminal equipment
- Recreational craft
- Safety of toys
- Simple pressure vessels.
Does the CE mark imply that the goods are subject to specific legal requirements?
Yes. The CE mark is used to certify compliance with the legal requirements that apply to the goods concerned. The CE mark is part of a system of requirements designed to ensure the safety of products, which places duties on producers, importers, distributors, and retailers.
The manufacturer or importer must affix the CE mark in most cases, which confirms that the goods conform to the applicable requirements.
Where legal requirements apply to the goods, it is unlawful to sell them or even offer them for sale, unless they comply with those requirements. A breach of the requirements may lead to prosecution or other enforcement. The sale of non-conforming goods creates a higher risk of incurring legal liability if they cause harm.
Who can affix the CE mark?
In many cases, the producer/manufacturer can self-certify compliance without the involvement of an external body. It must implement the requirements that apply to its products. It is subject to inspection and enforcement of its obligations by the authorities. A breach of obligations, such as improper certification, is usually an offence and is subject to enforcement by the authorities.
In the case of some types of goods, an independent product conformity assessment is required. The rules for the type of goods concerned will specify the requirement. The conformity assessment body is approved by the EU state and notified to the EU Commission. It may be a public authority such as the NSAI in Ireland, or it may be an accredited private body.
What is the effect of Brexit and the UK/EU Trade and Cooperation Agreement on conformity assessment bodies?
One effect of Brexit is that UK conformity assessment bodies are no longer qualified or recognised under EU legislation in cases where an independent conformity assessment is required. In these cases, UK manufacturers are obliged to nominate and use conformity assessment bodies in EU states to apply CE marking. In most cases, the relevant file has been transferred by the UK body to an EU body without the EU body duplicating the assessment process.
What is the UKNI Mark?
Northern Ireland is not part of the European Union, but under the Northern Ireland Protocol and the Windsor Framework, it is treated as if it is part of the EU single market in goods. The UKNI Mark is used in a relatively small number of cases where EU legislation requires a particular state to be identified in relation to goods.
One use of the UKNI mark is where goods require the involvement of a conformity assessment body. If a UK recognised assessment body certifies compliance with the EU product rules, then the CE mark must be accompanied by the UKNI mark. The UKNI mark may not appear by itself. In these cases, the goods may be sold in the UK but may not be sold in the EU.
GOV.UK has guidance about using the UKNI marking.
What product requirements apply in Great Britain?
The UK government has recently announced that the recognition of CE Marking has been extended indefinitely for many products. This extension covers the following:
- recreational craft and personal watercraft
- simple pressure vessels
- electromagnetic compatibility
- non-automatic weighing instruments
- measuring instruments
- measuring container bottles
- equipment for potentially explosive atmospheres (ATEX)
- radio equipment
- pressure equipment
- personal protective equipment (PPE)
- gas appliances
- equipment for use outdoors
- low voltage electrical equipment
More information about the requirements for different types of manufactured goods can be found at the following GOV.UK guidance: Placing manufactured products on the market in Great Britain.
What product requirements apply in Northern Ireland?
The EU product requirements apply in Northern Ireland so that CE certified goods may be sold in Northern Ireland. Northern Ireland producers certify compliance in the same way as producers in the European Union. Northern Ireland businesses may also sell CE certified goods anywhere within the European Union. Under the Unfettered Access provisions of the Northern Ireland Protocol and Windsor Framework Northern Ireland businesses are also guaranteed the right to sell qualifying Northern Ireland CE certified goods in Great Britain.
What steps should a business that sells CE goods take?
The business must know which of the goods it sells are covered by legally binding product requirements, usually indicated by the CE marking. It should consider whether it is the producer, importer, distributor, or retailer under the product rule for those goods, bearing in mind that in many cases, the first importer into the European Union will have the responsibilities of the producer.
The business should familiarise itself with the requirements that apply to it for all the types of products that it sells. Where it sells in the European Union or Northern Ireland, the EU rules will apply.
A business based in Ireland placing goods on the GB market will be subject to the replacement GB product rules. A business based in Northern Ireland may sell qualifying Northern Ireland goods in Great Britain, regardless of the GB product rules.
What if a business imports goods from Great Britain to Ireland?
Any business importing goods into Ireland, or any other EU member state will be required to comply with all EU regulations on product safety and conformity markings. It will be the responsibility of the importer into Ireland to ensure that all requirements have been met prior to the goods being placed on the market.
The UK government has recently announced that the use of CE Marking for many products placed on the market in GB has been extended indefinitely this means that businesses in Ireland will continue be able to place products on the market in GB with the CE mark. For more information on which products can still use CE Marking businesses should see the guidance above on requirements in GB.
Can a Northern Ireland producer apply the CE mark?
The EU rules on product standards and requirements apply in Northern Ireland. In most cases, manufacturers/producers can self-certify compliance with the EU requirements. In these cases, Northern Ireland producers may self-certify compliance and the goods may be sold in Northern Ireland, Ireland, and other EU states. Qualifying Northern Ireland goods may also be sold in Great Britain under the unfettered access rules in almost all cases.
For some types of products, an independent conformity assessment body is required. Where certification is by a UK-based conformity assessment body, the goods may be sold in Northern Ireland but not in Ireland or the EU, with the CE mark accompanied by the UKNI mark. The UKNI mark may not appear by itself.
What is unfettered access from Northern Ireland to GB?
Businesses based in Northern Ireland have a guarantee under the UK Internal Market Act that they can place EU compliant CE certified goods on the GB market, even where the UKCA requirement would otherwise apply. The goods must meet the requirements for qualifying Northern Ireland goods. There are some very limited exceptions.
The recent decision by the UK government to extend the recognition of CE marking in GB has no impact on the rules around Unfettered Market Access for qualifying Northern Ireland goods being placed on the market in GB.
GOV.UK has guidance to help you find out which goods qualify for unfettered access when moving from Northern Ireland to the rest of the UK.
National Standards Authority of Ireland: https://www.nsai.ie/
The Health and Safety Authority: https://www.hsa.ie/eng/topics/market_surveillance/selling_goods_on_the_eu_single_market/
Irish National Accreditation Board: https://www.inab.ie/about-us/about-accreditation/
NI Business Info: https://www.nibusinessinfo.co.uk/content/products-need-ce-marking
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Prepared for the Cross-Border Trade Hub.
Reviewed: October 2023