Amidst the COVID-19 crisis, many companies have pushed Brexit preparations to the sidelines, struggling to adjust to these unprecedented times. With so much going on this year, it is definitely difficult to stay on top of everything. Nevertheless, Brexit is fast approaching, and companies have only until the end of this year to prepare for changes that will take place from January 2021.
This article will provide the information cosmetic businesses need in order to ensure compliance after the end of the transition period.
Brexit key implications for beauty industry
Following the departure of the UK from the EU on January 31, 2020, the transition period is set to finish on December 31, 2020. During this time, it has been ‘business as usual’, meaning that not much has changed and the EU laws have still been applicable in the UK. The transition period has allowed time for UK/EU negotiations in terms of the future relationship. It is still not known whether Brexit will happen with Free Trade Agreement (FTA) or without. Either way, companies need to be prepared for the changes and compliance with the UK laws that will come into effect on January 1, 2021.
Until the end of this year, the UK is still covered by EU Cosmetics Regulation (EC) 1223/2009. However, starting on January 1, 2021, the UK will have its own cosmetics regulation. UK Cosmetics Regulation has already been published, and it is included within Schedule 34 of the UK Statutory Instrument (SI) Product Safety and Metrology et. (Amendment etc.) (EU Exit) regulation 2019.
The UK Cosmetics Regulation more or less mirrors the EU Cosmetics Regulation, and it will continue to ensure that products sold in the UK are safe for consumers. The UK cosmetics regulation does, however, require certain changes which involve new cosmetic notification through the UK notification portal; the need for a UK-based responsible person; and re-labelling to include new Responsible Person (RP) details and country of origin, where needed. Since the requirements for the EU and UK are very similar, a lot of the work will have to be duplicated to ensure compliance with both regulations.
It is important to add that the new UK Cosmetics Regulation will not apply to Northern Ireland (NI). The latter will remain covered by the EU Cosmetics Regulation, which is specified in the Northern Ireland Protocol.
Responsible person (RP) and Product information file (PIF)
Every cosmetic product that is placed on the EU market requires an EU-based responsible person (RP). The same will apply for the UK, but the responsible person will have to be based within the UK territory in order to be responsible for products sold in the UK. This means that after January 1, 2021, there will be a requirement to have an EU-based responsible person for products sold in the EU and a UK-based responsible person for products sold only in the UK.
Like in the EU, products sold in the UK will also require a product information file. PIF must be in English and must be made available at the UK RP address.
Additionally, a responsible person has to make sure that the safety assessments are done by safety assessors whose qualifications are recognisable in the UK, as well as the other way around – UK safety assessors need to have qualifications recognised by the EU.
(Re)-Labelling – RP details and country of origin
Based on the fact that selling cosmetics in the UK will require a UK RP, this brings along also the need for re-labelling. Under the EU Cosmetics Regulation, every product has to be properly labelled; this also includes the need to label the name and address of the EU RP. The same requirement will apply in the UK, meaning the UK RP name and address will have to appear on all products sold in the UK. Consequently, many companies will have to re-label their products.
Another thing to keep in mind is that after the UK left the EU, it became a third country for the EU countries and vice versa. Therefore, all products made in the UK and sold in the EU, have to clearly state the country of origin on the label. The same goes for products made in the EU and sold in the UK. These products need to label the exact country of origin, as ‘made in the EU’ will not be sufficient.
UK cosmetic notification portal
As of January 1, 2021, the UK will have its own cosmetic notification portal. All products sold in the UK will therefore have to be notified through this portal. The notification will be the responsibility of the RP, who will have to make sure that a product is notified before being placed on the UK market.
Regarding the EU cosmetic product notification portal (CPNP), UK RPs will have access to the CPNP only until the end of this year. After that, their accounts and notifications will be deleted. It is important that UK RPs make the necessary transfers of the already notified products to the new EU RPs while they still have access.
For products which are currently notified on the CPNP and will continue to be sold in the UK after Brexit, it is possible to download existing CPNP notifications in the form of .zip/.xml files, which will be able to be uploaded directly to the new UK notification portal. This will shorten the time needed for the notification process in the UK. Once the UK portal becomes available, RPs will have 90 days to complete notifications for existing products.
When do you need to comply with the upcoming changes?
From January 1, 2021, all products sold in the UK will have to comply with the UK Cosmetics Regulation.
However, there are certain exceptions in regard to the labelling:
- Products placed on the market until December 31, 2020 will be able to continue being sold in the UK and EU without the need for re-labelling.
- Products placed on the UK market after January 1, 2021 will have two years to adapt the labelling to include UK RP details and country of origin if the product is made outside the UK.
There is, however, no such grace period for products placed on the EU market after January 1, 2021.
How beauty can prepare for Brexit in different scenarios
1. Selling products in the UK only:a) Your RP is based in the EU-27
As EU-27 RP will no longer be recognised in the UK after January 1, 2021, you will need to assign a UK-based RP and make sure PIFs are in English and readily accessible at the new address. You will also need to update labels with the UK RP details and the RP will need to notify the products through the UK notification portal.
As previously mentioned, companies will be given a two-year period for the labelling of UK RP details.b) Your RP is based in the UK
With the UK RP already assigned and correct contact details already on the labels, this is one of the least stressful scenarios. The only thing required is product notification once the new UK portal becomes available. For products which are already notified to the CPNP, the RP should download the notifications before the end of this year while they still have access. Once the UK portal becomes available, they will have 90 days to notify existing products.
2. Selling products in the EU onlya) Your RP is based in the EU-27
This scenario is not affected by Brexit as nothing changes in regard to the EU Cosmetics Regulation and the requirements to sell products in the EU-27.b) Your RP is based in the UK
As the UK RP will no longer be recognised in the EU, companies will have to appoint an EU -27 based RP who will take over the responsibilities set out by the EU Cosmetics Regulation. They also need to update the labels to include the new EU RP details. It will also be necessary to transfer the existing notification from the UK RP to the new EU RP, which has to be done before the end of this year. After that, the UK RP will no longer have access to the CPNP and all notifications will be lost.
Companies have to keep in mind that compliance is expected from January 1, 2021, so they need to prepare as soon as possible.
3. Selling products in the UK and EU a) Your RP is based in the EU-27
If you want to sell your products on the UK and EU-27 market, you need to comply with both cosmetics regulations. Since products are already compliant with the EU laws, you need to ensure compliance also with the new UK laws as per scenario 1a.b) Your RP is based in the UK
Similar to the previous scenario, here you also require compliance with EU and UK regulation. For the UK, you need to prepare based on scenario 1b. As for the EU, you need to appoint another RP, which is based in EU-27 and make all the necessary steps mentioned in scenario 2b.