Northern Ireland Protocol and CE marking


As of January 31, 2020 the United Kingdom (UK) is no longer a member of the EU. As a result of this the whole economic landscape has changed, including the conformity legislation for placing your products on the UK market. The UK consists of Great Britain (England, Scotland and Wales) and Northern Ireland. This article is specifically aimed towards Northern Ireland.

Northern Ireland is considered to be a special case, when it comes to conformity legislation, since the UKCA marking (valid in Great Britain (GB)) is not recognized in Northern Ireland (NI). As of January 1, 2021, the NI product certification is covered by the Northern Ireland Protocol.

The Northern Ireland Protocol

The Northern Ireland Protocol indicates that the NI regulations ”will align with the relevant EU rules for placing industrial goods on the market.” The Protocol allows for a manufacturer to place his products on the NI market in accordance with the EU legislation. This means that, for most of the products, the CE marking remains valid in Northern Ireland.

However, specific products also require a different conformity marking, besides the CE marking, this in accordance with different conformity rules. From now on Northern Ireland will also be applying a different kind of conformity marking for these specific products, namely: the UKNI marking (or sometimes referred to as the UK(NI) mark or UK(NI) indication).

When do you apply the UKNI marking?

If you are a manufacturer who is planning to place products on the NI market, you are required to affix the UKNI marking, in combination with the CE marking, if all of the following conditions apply to you:

  • you are placing a certain type of product on the NI market, most of the time a product that requires a CE marking, e.g. electrical equipment or machinery/installations;
  • your product requires a mandatory Third-Party conformity assessment;
  • you have enlisted a UK-based Authorised Body (UKMCAB) to perform the conformity assessment, after which the UKMCAB will confirm that affixing a UKNI marking is allowed. This means that your product will now have 2 certification markings: the UKNI marking plus the CE marking.

If you are a manufacturer, you cannot affix the UKNI marking to your product if either of the following apply to you:

  • you are placing products on the EU market, or
  • you are planning to use an EU Notified Body to perform a mandatory third-party conformity assessment.

Please note: the UKNI marking is always accompanied by another conformity marking, like the CE marking. It is never affixed exclusively to a product, and products bearing both the CE and UKNI markings may not be placed on the EU market, since the UKNI marking is not recognised on the EU market.

Is it mandatory to replace the CE marking on my product?

Considering that the CE marking is still valid in Northern Ireland, in most cases, it is not mandatory to replace the CE marking of a product you are planning to place on the NI market, if your product meets the relevant EU regulations.

Furthermore, it is not mandatory to make any changes if both of the following conditions apply to you:

  • you are a manufacturer (or his Authorised Representative) established in Northern Ireland, and
  • you currently affix the CE marking based on so called ‘self-declaration’ (declaration of conformity drawn up by the manufacturer of the product).

However, if your product requires a mandatory third-party conformity assessment by a UK Conformity Assessment Body, then you must additionally affix the UKNI marking next to the CE marking.

Qualifying Northern Ireland goods

When it comes to moving products from Northern Ireland to Great Britain, a different rule applies to the so called “qualifying Northern Ireland goods” (a specific category of goods), placed under “unfettered access” by Northern Ireland-based manufacturers on the GB market. “Unfettered access” refers to the free market access to the GB market available to Northern Ireland businesses.

Considering that the CE marking or combination of UKNI and the CE marking will remain valid in Northern Ireland, this indicates that the CE marking or UKNI and CE marking will also remain valid on the GB market when it comes to specific products (qualifying products) from Northern Ireland manufacturers (the UKCA marking from Great Britain is not valid, however, in Northern Ireland).

Please consider that it is not allowed to move products, other than qualifying Northern Ireland goods, from a country outside the UK, e.g., from an EU member state, through Northern Ireland to Great Britain, in order to avoid the UK’s import process. This can result in penalties!

Which markings must be affixed?

Below you will find an overview of the various conformity markings that are valid in the UK (Great Britain) and Northern Ireland. As stated before, the UKNI marking is always affixed in combination with another marking, such as the CE marking.

Contact our experts

Just like in Great Britain with its UKCA marking, the post-Brexit economic landscape has undergone a great change in Northern Ireland. Although we have attempted to clarify these changes, we are convinced that this new situation might raise questions. Of course, we are always ready to assist you. So, if you have any questions, please feel free to submit an inquiry or reach out to talk to one of our regulatory compliance specialists.

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