Guidance

The chemicals sector and preparing for EU Exit

If the UK leaves the EU without a deal, and you are a company that makes, supplies or uses chemicals, there may be changes that affect your business.

Your business may need to make changes before the UK leaves the EU. Please visit Prepare for EU Exit to find more detailed guidance on policy changes relevant to your sector and to sign up for updates.

Regulation and standards

Chemical regulations

After the UK leaves the EU there will be changes to all chemical regulations, including EU REACH (the Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals Regulation).

If the UK leaves the EU without a deal, the EU REACH regulations will be brought into UK law to create ‘UK REACH.’

Maintain your access to EU/EEA market

If the UK leaves the EU without a deal, you will need to transfer your registrations to an EU/EEA-based organisation or support your EU/EEA-based importers to become registrants. Read the guidance from the European Chemicals Agency (EHCA).

Maintain access to UK markets

If you are a business based in the UK with an EU REACH registration, your registration will be legally recognised in UK REACH. However, you will need to take action to validate your grandfathered registration.

You will need to:

  • open an account on REACH IT once it is established and provide initial information on your registration within 120 days of the UK leaving the EU
  • provide full technical information on your registration within 2 years of the UK leaving the EU

Further information is provided on the HSE website.

UK-based downstream user or distributor of an EU REACH registered substance

If you currently purchase a chemical substance directly from an EU/EEA supplier, you must make sure any substances you purchase are covered by a valid UK REACH registration by someone within your supply chain. In order to remain compliant by registering as an ‘importer’, you must:

  • open an account on REACH IT and provide initial information on your registration within 180 days of the UK leaving the EU
  • provide full technical information on your registration within 2 years of the UK leaving the EU.

Read the guidance on regulating chemicals if the UK leaves the EU without a deal and the chemical regulation guidance from HSE.

You might also have to take some actions if you deal with:

Energy and climate

Participating in the EU Emissions Trading Scheme (EU ETS)

If the UK leaves the EU without a deal, then the EU rules governing the EU ETS would no longer apply to the UK.

Business emissions from 1 January 2019 onwards will no longer be covered by the EU ETS, so UK businesses would no longer need to surrender allowances for these emissions at the end of each year.

However, all stationary installations currently participating in the EU ETS should continue to comply with the regulations for the monitoring, reporting and verification of greenhouse gases. These regulations will underlie the new UK Carbon Emissions Tax.

The UK Carbon Emissions Tax will be set at £16 per tonne for 2019. In light of the further extension to Article 50, the government confirms that the Carbon Emissions Tax will not be commencing on 15 April. Further information on the implications of the extension for carbon pricing will be set out in due course.

Subject to state aid approval, the scheme to compensate energy-intensive industries for the indirect costs of the EU ETS would remain in place to compensate for the indirect emission costs of the new Carbon Emissions Tax.

Accounts administered by the UK in the EU ETS allowance registry and Kyoto Protocol registry will be blocked from the point of the UK leaving the EU. Operators wishing to retain access to their allowances after the withdrawal date should consider opening an account in another member state’s registry for this purpose, and should consider the amount of time this is likely to take. Clean Development Mechanism project developers with a UK Letter of Authority will also need a letter of approval from a different Designated National Authority.

Until further notice, the UK government will not issue or auction any 2019 EU ETS allowances.

It remains possible for allowances to be purchased through the European Energy Exchange (EEX) auction platform, and on the secondary market. Operators should consider this when planning to meet 2018 compliance obligations.

To make sure your compliance obligations will not be affected, the government brought forward the 2018 compliance year deadline. This has subsequently been subject to further change. Operators must surrender allowances equivalent to their 2018 verified emissions by 30 April 2019.

Carbon Emissions Tax legislation is included in the Finance Bill 2018-19.

Read the guidance on meeting climate change requirements if the UK leaves the EU without a deal and the Carbon Emissions Tax policy paper.

Importing and exporting

Preparing for disruption to trade at the UK-EU border

  1. Get a UK EORI number (this starts with GB) so you can continue to import or export goods and apply for authorisations that will make customs processes easier for you.

  2. Decide if you want to hire an import-export agent, or make the declarations yourself.

  3. Contact the organisation that moves your goods (for example, a haulage firm) to find out what information they need to make the declarations for your goods, or if you will need to make them yourself.

Read the guidance on simplified customs procedures for trading with the EU if we leave without a deal.

Further information is provided in HMRC’s advice for businesses trading with the EU.

Preparing to move goods between Ireland and Northern Ireland

If the UK leaves the EU without a deal, goods moving between Ireland and Northern Ireland will face different procedures compared to other UK-EU trade. This approach will apply until longer-term arrangements are made.

Read the guidance on customs procedures and VAT for goods moving between Ireland and Northern Ireland.

Preparing for changes to existing trade agreements

Check the way you currently trade with non-EU countries. When the UK leaves the EU the way you access existing favourable arrangements with these countries may change. Changes may be different for each country.

Read the guidance on changes to trading with non-EU countries that have a free trade agreement with the EU.

Preparing for changes to import tariffs

If the UK leaves the EU without a deal, the UK would implement a temporary tariff regime. This would apply for up to 12 months while a full consultation, and review on a permanent approach, is undertaken.

Under the temporary tariff regime the majority of UK imports would be tariff-free.

In certain sectors, tariffs would be maintained to support the most sensitive agricultural industries, the automotive sector, vulnerable industries exposed to unfair global competition, and to maintain the UK government’s commitment to developing countries.

Check the temporary rates of customs duty on imports after EU Exit.

Your employees

Employing EU, EEA and Swiss citizens

Right to work checks

You should continue to carry out the same right to work checks on all EU/EEA and Swiss citizens, by using their passport or national identity card, until January 2021.

You will not need to distinguish between EU/EEA and Swiss citizens who were resident in the UK before or after the UK leaves the EU.

Find out how to check an applicant’s right to work and read the guidance on employing EU, EEA and Swiss citizens after Brexit.

EU/EEA and Swiss citizens living in the UK before the UK leaves the EU

If the UK leaves the EU without a deal, EU/EEA and Swiss citizens who are resident in the UK before the UK leaves the EU will be able to apply to the EU Settlement Scheme to get settled or pre-settled status. This will mean they can continue to live, work and study in the UK.

EU/EEA and Swiss citizens must apply by 31 December 2020 if the UK leaves the EU without a deal.

You can use the EU Settlement Scheme guidance for employers to give further information to your employees.

EU/EEA and Swiss citizens who arrive in the UK after the UK leaves the EU

If the UK leaves the EU without a deal, EU, EEA and Swiss citizens arriving in the UK from Exit Day to 31 December 2020 can continue to come to the UK, to live, work and study without applying for a visa in advance.

After free movement ends, if they want to stay for longer than 3 months, they can read the guidance on staying in the UK to find out what they’ll need to do.

Irish citizens can continue to live, work and study in the UK, just as before.

From 1 January 2021, a new skills-based immigration system will launch.

For non-EU nationals, EU Exit will not affect the application process for work visas.

Travelling to the EU

If the UK leaves the EU without a deal, British passport holders travelling to the EU will need to have 6 months remaining validity on their passport, not including any extra months added to a 10 year passport if it was renewed early.

Read the rules for travel to Europe after Brexit and check your passport to see if you need to renew earlier than planned.

Check the county guides to see if there are different business travel and visa requirements for the country you are planning to visit.

Trade associations

Alliance of Chemical Associations

Published 13 February 2019
Last updated 14 March 2019 + show all updates
  1. Updated with information on the temporary tariff regime.
  2. First published.