What will change under Brexit?
Following the UK referendum vote in June 2016 to leave the EU and subsequent invocation of Article 50 in March 2017, the UK formally left the EU on 31 January 2020. During the transition period, the EU and UK negotiated the terms of a post-Brexit relationship and on Christmas Eve 2020, the Prime Minister outlined that an agreement had been reached. The transition period formally ended on 31 December 2020.
This toolkit summarises the elements of Brexit in relation to chemicals regulations and will help you to understand the legal requirements.
What do companies need to do?
Companies have a duty to ensure that they follow and comply with all chemicals regulations. Since the UK has formally left the EU, EU regulations are no longer relevant to the UK unless companies are placing on the market in the EU.
We are now in the situation where we must follow different regulations depending on where chemicals are being sold, in fact this isn’t actually anything new, as this is how it works in the rest of the world, it is just different to how we have operated until recently.
When placing on the market in the Scotland, England and Wales UK/GB regulations must be followed, when placing on the market in the EU, EU regulations must be followed. Northern Ireland is slightly different from Scotland, England and Wales in that they will follow EU regulations along-side Ireland (with some exceptions to the rule!).
What actions should companies take?
Companies need to consider their market, will they place on the market in the UK only, the EU-27 only or both? What about Northern Ireland?
Understand how you will ensure that you use legal entities in the UK or EU-27, will you have your own or use a third party or only representative?
Having established where your company will place on the market understand the role you will take in the supply chain.
Ensure that you comply with the relevant regulations in the UK or EU-27. For example, UK REACH or EU REACH.
When do registrations need to be made?
In the EU the phase in deadlines have already passed and so you should have already done your REACH registrations. If you haven’t, do them ASAP! Any new substances must be registered before they can be placed on the market.
EU REACH registrations held by UK-based companies can be carried across directly into UK REACH, by legally ‘grandfathering’ the registrations into the new regime. Basic information needed to be given to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) by 30 April 2021. And then full registration must be completed within two, four or six years from 28 October 2021, depending on your tonnage band deadlines. If you missed the grandfathering deadline a full immediate registration is required.
Of course, if you are based in the UK and have been buying from an EU supplier, until now you have been a downstream user, with no REACH obligations. Brexit has changed that and you may now find yourself needing to be a first time (UK) REACH registrant.
By submitting a notification to the Agency within the first 300 days of the end of the transition period, you effectively defer your registration obligation for up to 6 years plus 300 days after the end of the transition period. This is known as a Downstream User Import Notification (DUIN).
And then full registration must be completed within two, four or six years from 28 October 2021, depending on your tonnage band deadlines.
Tonnage band deadlines
Deadline Post 28 October 2021
2 years from 28 October 2021
1000 tonnes or more per year
4 years from 28 October 2021
100 tonnes or more per year
Candidate list substances (as at 27 October 2023)
6 years from 28 October 2021
1 tonne or more per year
Brexit — a map of the final frontier
REACH if there is “no deal”
Last reviewed 31 May 2021