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Brexit - Check up your REACH Compliance!

April 5, 2019

Dr. Markus Wintterle


Brexit – Check up your REACH Compliance!


REACH is a EU regulation, adopted to improve the protection of human health and the environment from the risks by chemicals, while enhancing the competitiveness of the EU chemical industry. REACH stands for Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals. In general, REACH applies to all chemical substances, not only those used within an industrial process but also in daily products like e.g. in cleaning products, paints as well as in articles such as clothes, furniture etc. Therefore, nearly any company is affected by REACH. To sum up: REACH has an impact on most companies across the EU.

With Brexit approaching, doing business with chemicals related to the UK will become more complicated.

REACH and its obligations will continue to apply to EU-based companies. If such a company purchases a chemical substance from a UK-based manufacturer that has registered a substance under REACH, it will no longer be able to rely on the substance being legally registered after the UK has left the EU. The registration by the UK company will become ineffective. For the substance to remain legally registered, the UK-based company selling chemical substance will need to appoint an so-called "only representative" established in one of the EU-countries. Otherwise, the importing company has to register the substance itself as an importer. A further option of the UK-based company is to move its operations related to the registered substance to a legal entity within the EU. Beware that setting up a company on paper only in the EU is not sufficient: the responsible staff and relevant documentation must be present at the address of the registrant within the EU.

In case the UK-based supplier itself is currently an importer of the chemical from outside the EU, that supplier has the option to move its importing activity to an EU-country. Otherwise, the importing company has to to register the substance itself as an importer.


Conclusion: Every EU-based company doing business with UK and every UK-based company doing business with the EU has to check up its REACH compliance!