Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals (REACh)


UK REACh and the EU REACh regulations operate independently from each other. Companies that are supplying and purchasing substances, mixtures, or articles to and from the EU/EEA/Northern Ireland and Great Britain (England, Scotland, and Wales) will need to ensure that the relevant duties are met under both pieces of legislation.


UK REACh applies to most chemical substances; those used in industrial processes and daily life, for example in cleaning products, paints, as well as in articles such as clothes, furniture, and electrical appliances. The burden of proof rests with companies under which there are 3 main types of duty holder:

Manufacturers: produce or extract a substance either through chemical synthesis, smelting or extraction. They are required to hold a valid registration for these substances under REACh.


Importers: bring chemical substances into GB from either the EU/EEA or NI or from the rest of the world. They have responsibilities to hold registrations for these substances unless their non-GB suppliers, where applicable, have appointed an Only Representative to take on the duties on behalf of the GB importers.


Downstream users: are companies or individual workers who directly handle chemical substances during their business activities and are not themselves the GB-based manufacturer or importer of the substances. Some businesses who were classed as downstream users under EU REACh may find that they are classed as importers under UK REACh if they are sourcing substances directly from the EU/EEA. This will mean they may have new registration responsibilities.


Businesses that manufacture or import (from outside GB) 1 tonne or more of any given substance each year are responsible for collecting information on its properties and uses and ‘registering’ that substance with ‘The Agency’ which is the Health and Safety Executive (HSE). Registration applies to substances on their own, substances in mixtures (formulated products) and in certain limited cases to substances in articles. Chemical substances that are already regulated by other legislation such as medicines, or radioactive substances are partially or completely exempted from REACh requirements.

For certain substances, their risk to human health or the environment may be significant enough to warrant removal from the supply chain. If Socio-Economic argument derives a benefit in continued supply whilst alternatives are sourced, the substance could become subject to Authorisation i.e., only used by end-users/operators in the manner described in their individual and approved application.

For other substances, their risk to human health or the environment may not warrant total withdrawal from the supply chain, but risks may be more prevalent for certain groups e.g., children’s development. Here a restriction will be placed upon the supply chain to eliminate the risk to a distinct group. For example, a substance may remain permitted for use in an industrial product but will not be permitted in childcare articles and toys.

Companies must be able to demonstrate how the substance can be used safely and they must communicate the risk management measures to the users.



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Last Updated: 09/11/2021
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