The UK has left the EU and the transition period after Brexit ended on 31st December 2020. While the Northern Ireland Protocol is in force, from 1st January 2021, Northern Ireland will align with relevant EU rules relating to the placing on the market of manufactured goods. Products placed on the NI market must therefore follow UK law as it applies to NI.
The Office of Product Safety and Standards (OPSS) has produced guidance for for businesses placing products not covered by other specific legislation on the market in Northern Ireland from 1st January 2021 which is available at https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/general-product-safety-regulations-2005
This guide is designed to help you comply with the General Product Safety Regulations 2005, as they apply in NI. They set out the requirements that must be met before products can be placed on the NI market. The purpose of this legislation is to ensure that consumer products are safe before they can be placed on the market in NI. This is done by requiring producers to ensure that consumer products meet the general safety requirement.
To help you assess your place in a product supply chain, you should answer the following questions:
Do you manufacture goods in NI, or act as the manufacturer by affixing your name, trademark etc to a product or do you recondition a product?
Do you place a product on the market that was manufactured in GB or the EEA? *
Are you a professional in the supply chain that by your activities may affect the safety of a product?
If you have answer YES** to any of the above, you are now known as the Producer of the product.
* If you brought the products in from GB or the EEA, you are importing the goods
**This is a significant change following UK leaving the EU and places more responsibility on local businesses who may have previously been distributors or retailers, are now producers.
Obligations of a producers include:
Before placing a product on the market you must ensure that it is a safe product, i.e. one which under normal or reasonably foreseeable condition of use does not present any risk or only the minimum risk compatible with the product’s use
You must provide consumers with the relevant information to enable them to assess the risk inherent in the product throughout the normal or reasonably foreseeable period of its use (where such risks are not immediately obvious) and to take precautions against those risks.
You must also allow for traceability by indicating on the product or its packaging (except when it is not reasonable to do so):
- Your name and address
- Product reference / batch number of the product
You must adopt measures to know the risks your product might present, for eg. sample test marketed products; investigate and, if necessary, keep a register of complaints concerning the safety of the product; and keep distributors informed of the results.
The Market Surveillance (Northern Ireland) Regulations 2021
The Market Surveillance Regulation 2019/1020 is European legislation that directly applies in all EU member states from 16 July 2021. The Regulation will also apply to NI as it is still part of the EU Single Market under the NI Protocol agreed as part of the UK's exit from the EU and is enforced by the Market Surveillance (NI) Regulations 2021
Article 4 of the EU Regulation on Market Surveillance requires that for certain products to be placed on the EU market, there must be an economic operator (i.e. manufacturer, importer, authorised representative or fulfilment service) based in the EU responsible for compliance tasks. Otherwise, such products cannot be placed on the EU market on or after 16 July 2021.
A business based in NI who sells products made by a manufacturer established outside NI or the EU (for example GB, or a non-EU country) and places them on the NI market for the first time is classed as an importer. This new regulation is particularly relevant to those who sell products online directly to consumers in NI (rather than via bricks and mortar shops).
Further information on the new Market Surveillance Regulations is available on the OPSS website at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/eu-regulation-20191020-on-market-surveillance-and-compliance-of-products
If you would like further information please contact the Environmental Health Department on 028 9244 7300 or email email@example.com or visit https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/general-product-safety-regulations-2005 for the most up to date information and guidance.