Regulations: restriction of hazardous substances (RoHS)

Guidance for manufacturers, importers and distributors.


Many types of Electrical and Electronic Equipment (EEE) are regulated to control the levels of hazardous substances and chemicals they contain and prevent them entering the waste stream with consequential adverse impacts to human and animal health.

All products in scope must:

  • have supporting technical documentation (often referred to as a technical file) to show compliance
  • have a Declaration of Conformity
  • be labelled appropriately
  • display the CE mark

Specific steps must be taken if a product is discovered or suspected to be non-compliant.

The Restriction of the Use of Certain Hazardous Substances in Electrical and Electronic Equipment Regulations 2012 (as amended) are the underpinning legislation. On 22 July 2019, they were expanded to include products outside the scope of the original 2006 regulations and restrict four additional specified phthalates.

What is covered?

The scope of the regulations was extended to all EEE in July 2019 and is no longer defined by 10 broad categories. However, the regulations do not apply to:

  • some equipment for military use or specifically designed to be sent into space
  • products integral to equipment that is out of scope
  • 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

Who is responsible for compliance?

Responsibility for compliance is shared by the manufacturer or importer placing the EEE on the UK market and the distributor (including retailers). These are known as economic operators.

How do I comply?

EEE placed on the UK market must contain less than the maximum prescribed levels of lead, cadmium, mercury, hexavalent chromium, two specified flame-retardant groups, and four specified phthalates.

Manufacturers must manufacture EEE within these limits and evaluate their production controls with reference to the measures detailed in the regulations.

A Declaration of Conformity must be completed, supported by technical documentation to show compliance. These must be retained for 10 years after the last product is first placed on the market and be made available to the Office for Product Safety and Standards (OPSS) if requested.

Individual products must have a type, batch or serial number and show the manufacturer’s name or mark, and address. They also need to display the CE mark, although in practice this is likely to be already required under other legislation.

Importers must:

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

Individual products must show the importer’s name or mark, and a contactable address on product or packaging. (If an importer places EEE on the UK market under its own name or trademark, it has to comply with all the obligations on manufacturers.)

Distributors must ensure EEE displays the relevant markings and must not make a product available if they have reason to believe it does not comply with the regulations. (A distributor must meet all the obligations on manufacturers if it modifies products in a way that might affect their compliance.)

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

Economic operators must take specific steps if they know or suspect a product is non-compliant, including:

  • notifying the Market Surveillance Authority (MSA)
  • informing applicable members of the supply chain
  • taking remedial action

The trigger point for notification is if the economic operator ‘considers or has reason to believe’ that a product does not conform to the regulations.

Economic operators must communicate detected non-conformities to other economic operators in the supply chain:

  • manufacturers and importers must inform their distributors
  • importers must inform the manufacturer
  • distributors must inform the importer or manufacturer as appropriate

Where an economic operator ‘considers or has reason to believe’ that a product does not conform to the regulations it is required to take action as appropriate to:

  • take corrective measures (fix the non-conformity)
  • withdraw it (stop it from being made available further down the supply chain, including to end users)
  • recall it (draw it back from end users)

Manufacturers and importers are required to keep a register of non-conformities identified. UK notifications must be submitted to OPSS.

RoHS notifications guidance and form for completion (ODT, 28.2KB)

Please note: This form should not be edited in any way. The questions must all be answered fully. If you are unable to answer, please make the reason for this clear.

Because of their broad scope and the number of products affected, the RoHS Regulations recognise that it may not be technically possible to produce certain products and equipment without limited use of some of the restricted substances.

What is the role of the Office for Product Safety and Standards?

OPSS has been appointed by Defra to enforce the regulations in the UK.

Where can I find out more?

RoHS Regulations 2012

RoHS regulations: phthalates and open scope (PDF, 267KB, 4 pages)

RoHS guidance (PDF, 372KB, 39 pages)

We are currently in the process of updating this guidance document to reflect a number of changes. Please subscribe to our free email alert service, to keep up to date on the latest developments.

RoHS (European Commission)

This includes a link to the RoHS Directive (2011/65/EC).

If you have a specific enquiry about compliance with the regulations, please use the contact details on our enforcement services page.

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 December 2019 + show all updates
  1. 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.

  2. 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.

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

  4. First published.