Restriction of hazardous substances (RoHS) exemptions: how to apply

Check the exemption criteria and find out how and when to apply and what happens with your application.

Applies to England, Scotland and Wales

If you manufacture, import or distribute electrical and electronic equipment (EEE) for the Great Britain market you’re responsible for ensuring that levels of certain hazardous substances and chemicals are not exceeded.

Read a list of restricted substances and find out how to comply with the rules. This guidance sets out how to apply for a new exemption to use a restricted substance provided it meets certain criteria.

Check the exemption criteria

You may be granted an exemption if the use of the restricted substance is listed in the exemptions criteria in tables 1 and 2 of the regulations and one or more of the following applies:

Defra may also consider the:

  • negative socio-economic impacts of a substitute
  • availability of a substitute (for example, whether alternatives can be produced and delivered within a reasonable timeframe compared with the substance in question)
  • life cycle assessment on impacts of exemption
  • impacts on innovation

You should provide evidence related to more than one criterion. Meeting one criterion will not guarantee that you’ll be granted an exemption.

Defra will decide whether the exemption should be granted and what conditions will apply.

Research and prepare to apply

You’ll need to carry out research and provide documents when you apply for an exemption.

You must include:

  • test results on the suitability of substitutes and any other technical and scientific documentation supporting your request – if possible and available, these documents should be third party certified
  • a life cycle assessment carried out according to ISO 14040, ISO 14044, including a product carbon footprint and cost benefit analysis – if possible and available, these documents should be third party certified
  • roadmaps for further technical development of RoHS regulation compliant substitute applications
  • REACH-relevant documentation such as registrations or applications for authorisation
  • documents from suppliers on the availability or non-availability of substitutes
  • socio-economic data in as much detail as possible – if possible and available, these documents should be third party certified

If you’re applying for a new exemption, you should apply no later than 18 months before the substance you are applying for an exemption for comes under scope of the RoHS regulations.

If you’re applying for a substance that is not yet restricted then your exemption (and the time it is valid for) will start on the day that the substance is restricted and in scope of the regulations.

You must apply to renew an exemption at least 18 months before the exemption expires. Consider how much time you’ll need to adapt production processes for the use of substitutes if your exemption is not approved. This will help you avoid taking products off the market or postponing the distribution of a new application on the GB market.

Apply for an exemption

Complete an exemption application form with the prepared documents and send to or:

RoHS Policy Officer
Department of Environment Food and Rural Affairs
Seacole Building
Ground floor
2 Marsham Street
London SW1P 4DF

Defra may contact you with questions about your application.

Confidential information

Confidential material cannot serve as official information in support of an exemption application. Where possible you should not include it.

If you need to include it you should:

  • specify which parts are confidential
  • submit confidential and non-confidential material in separate documents, if possible

After your application

Defra will:

  • write to you to let you know they’ve received your application within 1 month.
  • make a summary of your application available to the public
  • evaluate the application and its justification

Defra will evaluate your application by:

  • checking your application is complete with the correct documents and includes contact details
  • doing an initial technical and scientific appraisal, including checking the grounds provided for the request and the validity of information provided
  • preparing a list of questions to contact you with, if necessary
  • publishing final submitted information for an online stakeholder consultation (minimum 8 weeks) to collect additional data and information and to inform stakeholders about the application
  • evaluating consultation results and results of additional rounds of questions from the applicant and other stakeholders
  • publishing a summary of consultation responses and a ministerial decision on whether in principle the application should be accepted or not

A statutory instrument will be laid in the parliament to amend the RoHS regulations and bring the necessary changes into law.

Your exemption will be valid for:

  • 5 years from the date on which the exemption or renewal comes into force, for an exemption relating to EEE in category 1 to 7, 10 or 11
  • 7 years from the date on which the exemption or renewal comes into force, for an exemption relating to EEE in category 8 or 9

Check the categories of EEE.

Renew an exemption

You can apply to renew an exemption if you still meet the exemption criteria.

You should apply at least 18 months before the exemption expires. Defra will make a decision on the application no later than 6 months before the expiry date of the existing exemption unless specific circumstances justify other deadlines. The existing exemption remains valid until Defra makes a decision.

If an exemption renewal has been rejected or deleted it will expire between 12 and 18 months after the date of the decision. This gives stakeholders a transition period so they can take appropriate action.

Complete an exemption application form to renew an exemption.

Change an exemption

You can apply to change an exemption.

Check how long your exemption is valid for and if there are any clauses - you may not be able to change the wording of an existing exemption.

Complete an exemption application form to change an exemption.

Delete an exemption

You can request for an exemption to be deleted if you, or the business that holds the exemption, cannot meet the conditions any more. For example, you may request this if you’ve developed, or are representing a developer of, possible substitutes for a use that’s currently exempt.

Complete an exemption application form to delete an exemption.

You can apply immediately to delete an exemption as long as substitutes will be ready and approved for use in applications if it’s approved.

Reviewing and reaching a decision may take up to 18 months. If it takes less than 18 months then another 12 to 18 months will be granted as a transition period for manufacturers to update production lines for the use of applicable substitutes.

Published 16 February 2021