Guidance

Regulations: restriction of hazardous substances (RoHS)

Guidance for manufacturers, importers and distributors.

From 1 January 2021 there are differences in the rules for placing electrical and electronic equipment on the market in Great Britain (England, Scotland and Wales) and placing Electrical and Electronic Equipment on the market in Northern Ireland. Those differences are explained on this page. You can also:

Find out about placing manufactured goods on the market in Great Britain.

Find out about placing manufactured goods on the market in Northern Ireland.

Find out about placing manufactured goods on the market in the EU.

Overview

In Great Britain and in Northern Ireland many types of electrical and electronic equipment (EEE) are regulated to control the levels of certain hazardous substances and chemicals they contain, with the aim of protecting human and animal health.

All products in scope must:

  • have supporting technical documentation (often referred to as a technical file) to demonstrate compliance
  • have a Declaration of Conformity
  • be labelled with the required information
  • display the appropriate conformity marking for the GB and/ or NI markets as appropriate

In Great Britain and Northern Ireland, the Restriction of the Use of Certain Hazardous Substances in Electrical and Electronic Equipment Regulations 2012 (as amended) are the underpinning legislation. However, there are differences in how they apply in Great Britain and Northern Ireland, as explained below.

What is covered

The regulations in Great Britain and in Northern Ireland cover all EEE, cables and spare parts, with some exemptions including:

  • some equipment for military use or specifically designed to be sent into space
  • products integral to equipment that is not covered by the regulations
  • large-scale stationary industrial tools and large-scale fixed installations
  • photovoltaic (solar) panels produced for permanent use at specific locations
  • means of transport (apart from certain two-wheeled electric vehicles)
  • non-road mobile machinery specifically for professional use
  • products specifically for research and development available on a business-to-business basis
  • pipe organs
  • active implantable medical devices
  • phthalates in medical devices and monitoring and control instruments until July 2021

Extent of obligation

In Great Britain and Northern Ireland, manufacturers, importers and distributors, which include retailers, (known as economic operators) are responsible for the compliance of EEE that they place or make available on the GB and/ or NI market.

Economic operators in Great Britain and Northern Ireland must be able to identify who supplied them and who they supplied for 10 years following the placing on the market of the EEE.

Exemptions

For certain specific technical applications, you can apply for an exemption to allow these hazardous substances to be used above their maximum prescribed values.

Great Britain operates its own exemptions system, independent of the EU exemptions system.

Read guidance about exemptions in Great Britain, including how to apply

Northern Ireland continues to follow the EU exemptions system.

Read guidance about the EU exemptions system, including how to apply

How to comply

Manufacturers placing EEE on the market in Great Britain and/or Northern Ireland must evaluate their production controls to ensure that their products do not exceed the maximum prescribed levels of the following hazardous substances:

  • cadmium
  • lead
  • mercury
  • hexavalent chromium
  • polybrominated biphenyls
  • polybrominated diphenyl ethers
  • bis(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate
  • benzyl butyl phthalate
  • dibutyl phthalate
  • diisobutyl phthalate

A Declaration of Conformity must be completed, supported by technical documentation to demonstrate compliance, retained for 10 years after the last product is first placed on the market and be made available to OPSS on request. Other regulations that apply to certain EEE may require that technical documentation is retained for longer than ten years. For example, see guidance on energy labelling requirements.

Download a model Declaration of Conformity (ODT, 6.9KB)

Individual products must have a type, batch or serial number and show the manufacturer’s name or trademark, and address. Manufacturers must also declare conformity with all relevant legislation by affixing:

  • the UKCA mark, in the case of EEE being placed on the market in GB

and /or

  • the CE mark, in the case of EEE being placed on the market in NI

Some EEE will also be subject to regulations that require mandatory third-party conformity assessment.

Read further information on conformity assessment and the appropriate markings.

The CE marking will be accepted in the UK until 1 January 2022. You must be ready to use the UKCA marking from 1 January 2022 at the latest, although you should use it as soon as possible.

Until 1 January 2023, you have the option to affix the UKCA mark by means of a label, or similar, to the product, packaging, or documents, as required. After 1 January 2023, the UKCA mark should be directly affixed to the product.

Importers must:

  • confirm manufacturers have met the regulations for EEE they place on the GB and/or NI market
  • retain a copy of the Declaration of Conformity
  • ensure technical documentation is available to OPSS on request for 10 years after the last product is first placed on the market

Individual products must show the importer’s name or trademark, and a contactable address on the product or packaging.

If an importer places EEE on the GB or NI market under its own name or trademark, it must comply with all manufacturer’s obligations.

Distributors must:

  • ensure EEE displays the relevant markings
  • not make a product available if they have reason to believe it is non-compliant

If a distributor modifies EEE in a way that might affect the compliance of that product, it must comply with all manufacturer’s obligations.

You are an importer if:

  • You are the first one bringing goods from outside the UK and placing them on the market in Great Britain.

Read guidance on how this change may affect you.

  • You are the one bringing goods for the first time into Northern Ireland from either Great Britain or another non-EU country and placing them on the Northern Ireland market.

Read guidance on how this change may affect you.

Economic operators in Great Britain and Northern Ireland must take specific steps if they know or suspect a product is non-compliant, including:

  • notifying OPSS if the economic operator ‘considers or has reason to believe’ that a product placed on the GB and/ or NI market does not conform to the regulations.
  • notifying the relevant EU Member State Market Surveillance Authority if the economic operator ‘considers or has reason to believe’ that a product placed on the NI or EU market does not conform to the regulations.
  • keeping a register of EEE that they have placed on the market that is non-compliant or that has been recalled and keep others in the supply chain informed of these matters.
  • communicating detected non-compliant products to other economic operators in the supply chain as follows:

    • manufacturers and importers must inform their distributors
    • importers must inform the manufacturer
    • distributors must inform the importer or manufacturer as appropriate
  • taking remedial action, as appropriate, if the economic operator ‘considers or has reason to believe’ that a product does not conform to the regulations which includes:
    • taking corrective measures (fix the non-conformity)
    • withdrawing the product (stop it from being made available further down the supply chain, including to end users)
    • recalling the product (draw it back from end users)

Notifications can be submitted to OPSS via the following form:

RoHS notifications guidance and form for completion (ODT, 29.1KB)

Please note: This form should not be edited. If you are unable to answer a question in full please make the reason for this clear.

The role of the Office for Product Safety and Standards (OPSS)

OPSS has been appointed by Defra to enforce the regulations in Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

Where to find out more

If placing products on the market or making products available on the market in Great Britain:

If placing products on the market or making products available on the market in Northern Ireland:

Contact us

If you have a specific enquiry about compliance or wish to contact us regarding suspected non-compliance we recommend that you complete the online enquiry form, choose the relevant legislation and follow the on screen instructions.

Alternatively you can contact our helpdesk on 0121 345 1201.

Or in writing to:

Office for Product Safety and Standards
4th Floor Cannon House
18 The Priory Queensway
Birmingham
B4 6BS
United Kingdom

Subscribe to our free email alert service to keep up to date on the latest developments concerning the legislation that OPSS enforces.

Published 15 April 2014
Last updated 16 February 2021 + show all updates
  1. Link added to new guidance on applying for an exemption in Great Britain.

  2. Detailed guidance added for Great Britain and Northern Ireland, plus a model Declaration of Conformity.

  3. Updated at the end of the transition period to reflect amendments to the regulations and the different rules for placing electrical and electronic equipment on the market in Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

  4. EU Exit Update

  5. Guidance booklet now provided on the extension of the scope of the regulations in July 2019 to additional EEE, with four phthalates added to the list of restricted substances.

  6. Updated following the extension of the regulations on 22 July 2019 to products outside the scope of the original 2008 regulations and four specified phthalates.

  7. Page content revised, with new notifications guidance and form included.

  8. First published.