Export chemicals: licences and special rules
Licences and special rules for exporting chemicals.
Outside the EU, you must follow the rules for hazardous chemicals, as well the rules for any controlled chemicals.
Export rules cover single substances as well as mixtures (also called preparations). For example, paints, inks, glues or oils. There are special rules for products that contain highly restricted chemicals outside the EU.
Some countries may have import rules for certain goods. You can check by talking to your importer or getting help researching your export market.
Licences for controlled chemicals
You may need a licence to export:
- chemicals with military or potential military uses
- controlled drugs (like opioids, certain stimulants or psychotropic substances), or chemicals that can be used to make them (‘drug precursors’)
- ozone-depleting substances, for example HCFCs
- radioactive substances
You must report any suspicious transactions to the anti-terrorist hotline on 0800 789 321.
Drug precursor chemicals
You may need a licence to export drug precursor chemicals. This is in addition to any domestic licence you need to possess the chemicals in the UK.
Apply for an export licence
Check the table (PDF, 69KB) to confirm if your chemical needs an export licence.
Apply at least 20 working days in advance. Your licence will be valid for 3 months.
The export licence costs £24 - an invoice will be sent to your address.
If you need a purchase order number on the invoice, state this when you apply or email DFLU.email@example.com.
Contact the Drugs and Firearms Licensing Unit (DFLU) if you need help with exporting precursor chemicals.
To complain or make a suggestion, email DFLU.firstname.lastname@example.org.
To export hazardous chemicals outside the EU, you must:
- pack and label them to EU standards
- include a safety data sheet to each importer
- translate the label and safety data sheet into the language of the country you’re exporting to
- not export them within 6 months of their expiry date
- for restricted chemicals, apply for a reference identification number (RIN)
Get a RIN for restricted chemicals
You need to include a reference identification number (RIN) in your customs declaration if either:
- the chemical is restricted - classed as ‘Annex 1’
- you export 10kg or less of any non-restricted chemical for research or analysis
Search for Annex 1 chemicals using the tool on the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) website.
If your chemical is classed as Annex 1, note:
- which ‘parts’ of Annex 1 the chemical is in - there are more restrictions on chemicals in parts 2 and 3
- the CAS number
You’ll need this information when you apply for a RIN. You do this by making an online notification.
Chemicals classed as Annex 5 are banned and can’t be exported without an exemption. Contact UKDNA@hse.gov.uk if you need help.
Making an online notification
To get a RIN you need to make an online notification at least 35 days before you first export restricted chemicals. Allow 15 days for notifications you make after this.
Chemicals in parts 2 and 3 of Annex 1 may take longer or be refused because they must be authorised by the country you’re exporting to.
To make an online notification:
You can use the same RIN for all exports of the same chemical in the same calendar year. You don’t need to make another notification.
When transporting restricted chemicals, you’ll need to follow the rules for moving dangerous goods.
Annual reporting requirements
Every year you must tell HSE about the Annex 1 chemicals you’ve exported using your online notification account.
Products that contain highly restricted chemicals
You need a RIN number if you export a product that both:
- includes a chemical in part 2 or 3 of Annex 1
- is classed as an article
This includes products like cars, batteries or telephones.
You don’t need to follow the other additional export rules for chemical substances and mixtures.
Contact HSE if you need help.