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No-Deal Brexit Poses Severe Regulatory Challenges for RFID Suppliers in the U.K.

Since a Brexit deal appears unlikely, RFID suppliers must be prepared for the coming changes.
By Ronald E. Quirk

According to the U.K.'s Department of Business, Energy, and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), RFID equipment that operates between 865 and 868 MHz with power levels up to 2 watts, and in the 915 to 921 MHz band with power levels up to 4 watts, will be regulated under the "New Legislative Framework." For such products, the following procedures will apply to RFID equipment suppliers that market their products in the U.K. post-Brexit if there is no deal:

• E.U.-compliant equipment placed on the U.K. market before the United Kingdom leaves the E.U. will remain compliant after Brexit.
• RFID equipment that meets the E.U. requirements and bears the CE Mark may be placed on the U.K. market for the first time during a limited period of 18 months after the exit date.
• After the 18-month transition period expires, new products placed on the U.K. market will need to meet the U.K.-specific RF equipment rules, but the E.U.-harmonized standards will remain valid in the United Kingdom as "designated standards, to maintain a single standards model between the U.K. and the E.U.
• A new label, the UKCA Mark, will be required on all RFID equipment placed on the U.K. market post-Brexit after the 18-month transition period expires.
• The legal obligations of RFID manufacturers will remain largely unchanged after the U.K. exits the E.U.
• Any entity that brings manufactured RFID equipment into the U.K. from the E.U. in order to place it on the market will be classified as an importer (e.g., E.U. entities that were distributors will now be importers if they want to continue to have their products marketed in the E.U.). All importers of RFID equipment to the U.K. post-Brexit are required to do the following:
» label the products with the company's name, registered trade name or trademark and a contact address;
» make sure that the correct CAP has been carried out for all the equipment imported into the U.K.;
» ensure that the equipment carries the correct conformity markings;
» confirm that the manufacturer has drawn up the correct technical documentation and complied with its own labeling requirements;
» be alert to non-conforming equipment and not import it into the U.K. if there is reason to believe it does not comport with the relevant regulatory requirements; and
» monitor products made available on the market for regulatory compliance.

If a Deal Is Struck, Not Much Will Change
If the United Kingdom and the European Union execute a deal before Brexit, BEIS asserts that the E.U. and U.K. will combine regulatory and customs requirements. Hence, while there are likely to be some new U.K.-specific regulations for RFID equipment, most of the current E.U. regulatory requirements will remain the same. The details, of course, will hinge on the specifics of the deal itself.

Regulatory agencies that govern RFID equipment and other RF devices have been cracking down on rule violators. Accordingly, it is critical that all RFID suppliers that conduct business in the United Kingdom remain aware of the status of Brexit and ensure that the applicable rules are followed. As of this writing, a Brexit deal appears unlikely, and RFID suppliers should prepare themselves for the changes that will occur post-Brexit. Consultation with knowledgeable consultants or counsel would be helpful to any RFID supplier looking to avail itself of the marketing opportunities in the U.K. and other markets around the world.

Ronald E. Quirk Jr., is the head of the IoT Group at Marashlian & Donahue LLC, The CommLaw Group. Ronald focuses his practice on federal, state and international telecommunications regulation and policy, with a particular expertise in assisting clients in navigating the complex labyrinths of RF equipment authorization and enforcement processes around the world. His career has spanned more than 20 years, including several years at AMLAW 100 firms and the FCC. He can be reached at req@commlawgroup.com or (703) 714-1305. If you would like additional information concerning the issues covered herein, or to obtain a hard copy of the comprehensive "U.S. or Global RF Equipment Regulatory Compliance Guide," please contact the author.

Disclaimer: This article is intended for informational purposes only and is not for the purpose of providing legal advice. You should not act upon the information in this article without seeking professional counsel.

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