Guidance

How to comply with REACH chemical regulations

How to comply with the EU's REACH chemical regulations when using, making, selling or importing chemicals in the EU, and how to prepare for 1 January 2021.

New rules for January 2021

The UK has left the EU, and the transition period after Brexit comes to an end this year.

This page tells you what you'll need to do from 1 January 2021. It will be updated if anything changes.

Check what else you need to do during the transition period.

UK REACH, the UK’s independent chemicals regulatory framework, starts on 1 January 2021. Anyone making, selling or distributing chemicals in the UK and the EU needs to follow UK REACH and EU REACH rules.

UK REACH will maintain EU REACH’s aims and principles. These include:

  • the “no data, no market” principle
  • the “last resort” principle on animal testing
  • access to information for workers
  • the precautionary principle

The government intends to extend the deadlines for submitting data under UK REACH transitional provisions subject to scrutiny by parliament and the devolved administrations. This guidance includes these extension dates rather than those currently provided in UK REACH legislation.

Full UK REACH guidance is available on the Health and Safety Executive website. This includes information on how to continue moving goods between Northern Ireland and Great Britain.

UK REACH for business

Under UK REACH, manufacturers and importers have a duty to register chemicals that access the UK market. GB-based companies currently registered with EU REACH will no longer be able to sell into the EEA market without transferring their registrations to an EU/EEA-based organisation.

You must review your roles in the EU and UK REACH systems, and your current supply chains. You’ll need to take certain actions to access the EU/EEA and UK markets.

Under the Northern Ireland Protocol, the process for Northern Ireland businesses moving goods to and from the European Union under EU REACH will not change from 1 January 2021. Further guidance will be published for Northern Ireland businesses moving goods into the GB market.

UK held registrations: ‘grandfathering’

EU REACH registrations held by UK-based companies will carry across directly into UK REACH, legally ‘grandfathering’ the registrations into the new regime.

UK-based holders of existing EU REACH registrations may continue the ‘grandfathering’ process by providing basic information to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) by 30 April 2021. You can submit this information using the UK REACH IT system, ‘Comply with UK REACH’, from 1 January 2021.

Read the HSE guidance to find out how to complete the grandfathering process by 30 April 2021.

EU held registrations: UK downstream users

UK downstream users (who do not hold an EU REACH registration) currently importing chemicals from an EU/EEA country need to ensure the substances they purchase are covered by a valid UK REACH registration.

Businesses currently relying on a registration held by an EU/EEA-based company can continue importing substances as they do now on 1 January 2021. They will need to take subsequent actions to ensure that the chemical is registered for UK REACH purposes.

Find out how UK downstream users can notify the HSE using a Downstream User Import Notification (DUIN) of their intention to continue importing substances from the EU/EEA by 27 October 2021.

A new registration must then be submitted to the HSE within 2, 4 or 6 years of 28 October 2021. Alternatively, UK downstream users can encourage their EU/EEA supplier to appoint a UK-based Only Representative (OR), or change their source to a UK registered supplier.

It’s possible to submit DUINs if a chemical is covered by a registration held by an EU/EEA-based OR and then sold into the UK.

Tonnage band deadlines

Under UK REACH, deadlines for the full submission of data to underpin registration dossiers will be staggered over a period of 6 years. These deadlines start from 28 October 2021, the end of the DUIN submission period. Find out tonnage band deadlines and hazard profiles on the HSE website.

EU market access for UK business

GB-based entities currently holding EU REACH registrations can continue exporting substances or mixtures to the EU/EEA markets before 1 January 2021 by either:

  • transferring their registrations to an EU/EEA-based entity
  • supporting their EU/EEA-based importers to become registrants

GB-based entities currently holding EU REACH registrations also need a valid UK REACH registration to maintain access to the UK market.

The European Chemical Agency (ECHA) explain how to transfer your UK-held EU REACH registrations before 1 January 2021.

Under the Northern Ireland Protocol, the process for Northern Ireland businesses moving goods to and from the European Union under EU REACH will not change from 1 January 2021.

Comply with UK REACH

The online service ‘Comply with UK REACH’ will go live on 1 January 2021. Businesses can use the service to:

  • validate existing UK-held EU registrations (‘Grandfathering’)
  • submit downstream user import notifications (DUIN)
  • submit new substance registrations
  • submit new product and process orientated research and development (PPORD) notifications

Businesses will need to contact the HSE to ensure that they:

  • validate existing UK-held product and process orientated research and development (PPORDs), known as ‘grandfathering’
  • provide information on any authorisation matter, including new authorisation application, grandfathering of existing authorisations, and downstream user notifications of authorised uses

Importing from the EU to the UK

EU/EEA based companies who import chemicals into the UK under UK REACH must ensure that they are covered by a valid UK REACH registration.

These companies can register the substance under UK REACH through a UK-based OR or an affiliate UK importer.

If the EU/EEA company takes on registration obligations through a UK-based entity, their UK customers will retain their downstream user status.

Published 23 September 2015
Last updated 27 October 2020 + show all updates
  1. Added new guidance on grandfathering, tonnage deadlines and how UK downstream users can notify the HSE, with links to complete guidance on the HSE.

  2. Updated to provide businesses more information on what they'll need to do to prepare for the 1 January 2021

  3. Added link to the process maps collection

  4. Added information on how to make, sell or import chemicals if the UK leaves the EU with no deal, and how to register on REACH after no deal.

  5. Added link to Health and Safety Executive (HSE) guidance on chemical regulations and preparing for Brexit. See 'Prepare for Brexit'.

  6. Amended link to registration support page.

  7. First published.