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Last edited 29 Oct 2021
Registration, evaluation, authorisation and restriction of chemicals REACH
On 1 January 2021, the UK began its transition from EU REACH to UK REACH under the European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018. After this date, the two regulations began to operate independent of - but in tandem with - each other. This transition period was scheduled to on 28 October 2021.
After the transition period, UK REACH will control regulation of the commercial supply and purchase of chemicals and mixtures within Great Britain (England, Scotland and Wales). EU REACH will continue to apply to materials moving to and from:
- The European Union (EU).
- The European Economic Area (EEA).
- Northern Ireland (NI) under the Northern Ireland Protocol.
- The ‘no data, no market’ principle.
- The ‘last resort’ principle on animal testing.
- Access to information for workers.
- The precautionary principle.
In addition to the principles of EU REACH, UK REACH promotes the use of alternative methods for the assessment of the hazardous properties of substances. It also aims to provide a high level of protection for human health and the environment from the use of chemicals.
 The coverage of REACH
Under UK REACH, the burden of proof for compliance is on companies. It is intended to make the people who place chemicals on the market (manufacturers and importers) responsible for understanding and managing the risks associated with their use. This means that manufacturers and importers who wish to do business in Great Britain must register chemicals in order to access this market.
UK REACH applies to many chemical substances including those used in industrial processes such as cleaning products, paints and other chemical-based components associated with the construction industry. There are three groups of chemicals that are specifically controlled under REACH:
- The candidate list of substances of very high concern (SVHC)
- Annex XIV substances - priority SVHCs from the candidate list that require an authorisation for their supply and use
- Annex XVII restricted substances - particular hazardous substances that have controls on how they can be supplied or used.
UK REACH covers all sectors - not just those in the chemical industry - that manufacture, import, distribute or use chemicals as raw materials or finished products. It applies to all companies, regardless of size. It also requires that every actor in the supply chain communicates information on the safe use of chemicals.
 Registration of substances
At the end of the transition period, companies have two, four or six years to complete the full registration of substances. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) acts as the UK Agency for registration. Submitting an Article 26 inquiry to notify the HSE about the intention to register a substance is the first step in the process
The time allocation depends on the tonnage band and hazard profile of the substance. Importers based in Great Britain must also submit some information about the substances they source from Northern Ireland in quantities of one tonne or more. This information should be submitted within 300 days of the end of the transition period.
 Exceptions and ‘grandfathering’
Under some circumstances, companies may not be required to register under UK REACH. This generally applies to situations involving research and development for new products, particularly where quantities are less than one tonne per year.
Where more than one tonne is used in a year for Product and Process Orientated Research and Development (PPORD) purposes, the manufacturer or importer can apply for an exemption from the obligation to register for a period of up to five years. For situations where a PPORD was in place prior to Brexit, this will be carried over and the same conditions and exemption period will apply.
In some cases, EU REACH registrations held by GB-based businesses were carried across directly into UK REACH, legally ‘grandfathering’ the registrations into the new regime. There was an additional aspect of the process that had to be submitted to the HSE by 30 April 2021 using the UK REACH system ‘Comply with UK REACH’. It is possible to contact the HSE for questions about completing late grandfathering registrations by sending an email to email@example.com.
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