This guide explains how mutual recognition works and provides information on how to find the UK’s technical rules for specific products.
The UK will continue to follow the EU Mutual Recognition Regulation until 1 January 2021.
Mutual recognition is the principle of EU law under which goods that are legally sold in one EEA country can be marketed and sold in any other.
For the exporter, this means that a product legally on sale in one country should not have to meet a second set of requirements in the country to which they are exporting.
An importing country can only impose a technical rule, prohibit a product or withdraw it from sale if there is a legitimate public interest ground, such as a risk to:
- public health
- consumer safety
- the environment
Mutual recognition applies to ‘non-harmonised goods’, such as foodstuffs, furniture, vehicles or precious metals. These are goods that are not already covered by EU-wide legislation setting common requirements that all products of that type must meet before being placed on the market.
For more information, see the Mutual Recognition of Goods Regulation (EU) 2019/515.
The Mutual Recognition of Goods Regulation covers technical rules, which fall into 3 categories:
- provisions which prohibit the marketing of particular products
- requirements for products to have particular characteristics when they are marketed (for example in terms of quality, safety or labelling)
- rules about the subsequent use or treatment of products which significantly affect the way they are made or marketed (such as recycling obligations)
Goods requiring prior authorisation
Certain goods require prior authorisation. For example, some products or designs must be submitted for testing or approval by the authorities of an EEA country or a designated private body before they can be placed lawfully on the UK market.
A prior authorisation procedure is not necessarily a technical rule for purposes of the regulation but a decision to refuse prior authorisation based on an national technical rule could be subject to the regulation.
Even though a product might not be subject to prior authorisation requirements, there may be other requirements businesses need to follow, such as third-party testing.
Manufacturers and producers of goods can draw up a voluntary ‘mutual recognition declaration’. This provides authorities with all the necessary information on the marketing of goods and on compliance with any relevant rules and will be taken into account in their assessment.
UK rules on specific products
The spreadsheet below provides a list of the UK regulations on non-harmonised goods.
If you have a question about a product that does not appear on the list, please contact the UK Product Contact Point.
Process of denial and appeals procedure
The regulating body (such as the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy) will inform the manufacturer or seller of the product of their decision on whether they assess the goods to have been lawfully marketed and specify the options available to them if they take an administrative decision in respect of the goods.
This will allow the business to appeal against the decision or bring proceedings before the competent national court or tribunal. The decision will also include a reference to SOLVIT and the problem-solving procedures available.
Dispute resolution options
Businesses can also contact the organisations below to help resolve problems.
SOLVIT: resolving issues with free movement of goods
The free SOLVIT online service is available to businesses to help resolve any issue relating to a decision of a public authority which may be incompatible with the principle of the EU free movement of goods.
Trading Standards have internal procedures for businesses to appeal against decisions. Escalation from this process will be to the local authority complaints procedure and, ultimately the Local Government Ombudsman.
Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman
The Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman (PHSO) can investigate complaints by the public that UK government departments, public authorities and the National Health Service have not acted properly or fairly or have provided a poor service.
The role of the Product Contact Point is to provide information on national rules and remedies relating to the marketing and sale of goods in the UK.
If you want information about the technical rules that apply to a product in an EEA country, please contact the relevant country’s Product Contact Point.