Environmental guidance for your business in Northern Ireland & Scotland

Does the REACH Regulation apply to your business?

Does REACH apply to your business?

If you use, supply or manufacture chemical substances, or import them from outside the European Union (EU), you must comply with the Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals (REACH) Regulation.

If you manufacture or import chemical substances into the EU in quantities of more than one tonne per calendar year, you may have to register them. You will be committing an offence if you do not pre-register or register chemical substances covered by REACH, unless the substance is exempt.

Other requirements of REACH can affect you regardless of the quantity or your role in the supply chain. For example, if you supply or use certain chemical substances which could be particularly harmful to human health or the environment, you will have to meet certain requirements under REACH. See the page in this guideline: REACH - substances of very high concern and restricted chemicals.

Substances that REACH applies to

REACH applies to most chemical substances, either on their own or in preparations or mixtures. It is not limited to industrial chemicals and includes chemicals used in day-to-day life. Preparations or mixtures include:

  • coatings, eg paints, varnishes or enamels
  • pigments, dyes or inks
  • cleaning products
  • photographic processing chemicals
  • chemicals used to produce man-made fibres.

REACH also applies to chemicals contained in some finished products, known as articles. You must comply with REACH if you manufacture or supply articles within the EU, or are importing articles from outside the EU.

European Chemicals Agency (ECHA): Factsheet - what you need to know

HSE: REACH and articles (PDF, 97K)

REACH may also apply to a chemical substance you recover from waste in quantities of one tonne or more per calendar year.

HSE: REACH and substances recovered from waste (PDF 100K)

Some chemical substances are partially or completely exempt from REACH.

HSE: REACH and exemptions (PDF 129K)

Chemsec has developed an online resource, the Marketplace,  where businesses can source alternatives to chemicals that have health or environmental impacts. If you produce safer chemicals then you can also present your alternatives to potential customers.

Chemsec: the Marketplace

How REACH is enforced

The European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) manages registration, evaluation, authorisation and restriction processes for chemical substances across the EU.

In the UK the competent authority for administering REACH is the HSE. The competent authority's responsibilities include:

  • providing advice to UK businesses on REACH
  • enforcing compliance
  • working with the ECHA.

Several regulators monitor and enforce the different duties under REACH. This depends on the chemical, your business type and part of the UK you operate in.

HSE: Who enforces REACH, a UK wide guide

You can email the REACH compliance team for specific queries about REACH compliance at reachcompliance@hse.gsi.gov.uk.

Further information

HSE: REACH - Contact us

HSE: REACH Registration 2018

In this Guideline

Does the REACH Regulation apply to your business?

Manufacturers and importers of chemicals: REACH responsibilities

Distributors and users of chemicals: REACH responsibilities

REACH - Substances of very high concern and restricted chemicals

REACH legislation

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