Brexit factsheet: REACH regulation and your business

Your health and safety responsibilities will not change if the UK leaves the EU. What impact will Brexit have on the registration, evaluation, authorisation and restriction of supply chain chemicals and your business?

What is REACH?

REACH is the Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and restriction of CHemicals, termed ‘Substances of Very High Concern’, i.e. substances with serious consequences.

Examples of substances are:

  • coatings:  paints, varnishes, enamels
  • pigments, dyes or inks
  • cleaning products
  • photographic processing chemicals
  • chemicals used to produce man-made fibres

Why is REACH important?

These substances are harmful to human health, animals and the environment.

What types of businesses will use these substances?

There are many businesses that are impacted by REACH including businesses in energy, life and chemical sciences, technology and textiles.

Does REACH affect my business?

Any business which uses, supplies or manufactures these substances must comply with REACH Regulation.

If you manufacture or import chemical substances in quantities of more than one tonne per calendar year, you may have to register them.

It's an offence if you do not pre-register or register chemical substances covered by REACH.

How does Brexit affect REACH?

From 1 January 2021, the domestic regime that will operate in the UK will be known as UK REACH (excluding Northern Ireland where EU REACH Regulations will continue to apply). The two sets of 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) must ensure that the relevant duties are met under both pieces of legislation.

If you buy chemicals from the EU, you will need to register on the new UK REACH system before the end of the transition period. If you do not currently hold an EU REACH registration, you will need to apply for a Downstream Import Notification (DUIN). You may not be able to bring chemicals into the UK if you do not register. Registration can take up to 6 weeks. 

Any business which uses, supplies or manufactures chemicals will need to comply with REACH regulations after Brexit for 'substances of very high concern'.

If you hold an EU REACH registration and you are based in the UK, your registration will carry across directly into UK REACH.

To enable EU registration and access, UK companies will require to appoint an approved representative within the EU or register from their EU based legal entity.

Comply with REACH chemical regulations

What should Scottish companies do?

Companies must determine ‘their role’ in REACH and contact HSE (Health and Safety Executive):

Get REACH guidance on a no-deal Brexit

You'll need to open an account on the new IT system for UK REACH "Comply with UK REACH" which will be launched in time for the UK's exit from the European Union.

Businesses can use this service to validate UK-held EU registrations, submit downstream user import notifications, submit new substance registrations and submit new PPORD notifications.

When should I do this by? Immediately.

How to comply with REACH chemical regulations

Podcast on preparing your business for the changes taking place at the end of the transition period

Got a Brexit planning question?

Get in touch with our export advisers for full details of how we can help your business grow in EU markets and beyond.