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UK REACH is now in force

A consideration of the United Kingdom’s version of the REACH legislation.

As a result of the United Kingdom’s withdrawal from the European Union (EU), and the end of the subsequent transition period, the EU REACH Regulation (‘Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and restriction of CHemicals’) was brought into UK law under the European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018 on 1st January 2021. The key principles of the EU REACH Regulation have been retained under UK REACH, but there have been some changes made to EU REACH since the end of the transition period.

To comply with UK REACH, companies must identify and manage the risks associated with the substances they manufacture and market in the UK. They have to demonstrate how the substance can be safely used and must communicate the risk management measures to the users. The purpose of this is to share and streamline information on the use, properties and hazards of substances within the UK.

In the UK, under EU REACH, the ‘Competent Authority’ for REACH was the Health and Safety Executive (HSE). Duties relating to registration of chemicals and supply up to the point of retail under UK REACH will continue to be enforced by the HSE. Enforcement at point of sale is carried out by local authority Trading Standards.

There are currently 74 entries for restricted substances or groups of substances under UK REACH. As of 4th June 2021, there are 69 entries under EU REACH. Some substances have moved to become restricted under the EU Persistent Organic Pollutants Regulation (POP). Also, on 15th February, entry 75 (a restriction applicable to certain tattoo inks) was added to EU REACH but is not currently included under UK REACH. However, it is under consideration and is therefore likely to be added in due course. In addition to entry 75, there are considerations for restrictions of the use of lead in ammunition which are being assessed by the HSE. There is also a significant discrepancy between the number of Substances of Very High Concern (SVHCs) under EU and UK REACH. An additional ten substances have been added to the candidate list of EU REACH, giving a total of 219 substances. Currently there are only 209 substances listed on the candidate list of UK REACH, although this is likely to change as the regulation develops.

UK companies, including producers and importers of chemicals, who already had a valid European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) registration before BREXIT were able use this registration under UK REACH by a process called ‘grandfathering’. This meant that the substance did not need to be re-registered. The process involved providing information to the HSE – companies had 120 days from the end of the transition period to provide the HSE with this initial information under the grandfathering provisions.

Downstream users importing from EU-based registrants have 300 days to provide the HSE with information. The HSE must then be notified with a ‘Downstream User Import Notification’ (DUIN) stating intention of continued importation of chemicals from the EU or the European Economic Area (EEA). An alternative to this is by the use of a UK-based ‘Only Representative’ which is appointed by the EU/EEA supplier, or to move to a supplier registered in the UK.

In terms of deadlines for UK REACH registrations, there are four important dates to consider (see table 1). The first of these is the deadline for DUIN on 27th October 2021. After this date, full registration of substances is required after two, four or six years from 27th October 2021, dependant on the tonnage per annum and hazard properties of the substances. Before each of these dates, full registrations must be submitted to the HSE.

Table 1: UK REACH registration deadlines
Tonnage band Registration deadline
Downstream User Import Notification (DUIN) deadline 27th October 2021
All substances ≥1,000 tonnes per annum

Carcinogenic, mutagenic or toxic for reproduction substances (CMR) ≥1 tonne per annum

Substances very toxic to aquatic organisms ≥100 tonnes per annum

Candidate List substances (included on the list before 30th December 2021) ≥1 tonne per annum
27th October 2023
All substances ≥100 tonnes per annum

Candidate List substances ≥1 tonne per annum (included on the list before 27th October 2023)
27th October 2025
All substances ≥1 tonne per annum 27th October 2027

How can we help?


SATRA’s chemical testing team can guide and advise manufacturers and retailers of consumer products of their advised and mandatory restricted substances testing. As mentioned in this article, there are currently 74 restricted substances listed under UK REACH and 69 under EU REACH. SATRA is able to assess materials and articles for any chemical testing that may be required to meet the necessary regulatory restrictions. This is also extended to SVHCs. SATRA can conduct comprehensive screening tests to rule out the presence of candidate substances. We currently have free webinars available on REACH and SVHCs, as well as a large array of other topics. Please contact with any enquiries.