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Act now ahead of Brexit, says ECHA

The European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) has published advice on its website about how companies should prepare for the UK leaving the EU without a deal on 29 March. In view of the continued political uncertainty, the agency said that it “urges companies to act now to continue complying with their obligations” under the REACH, Classification, Labelling and Packaging (CLP), Prior Informed Consent (PIC) and Biocidal Products (BPR) regulations.


In order to keep REACH-registered substances on the market in the EU-27 and European Economic Area (EEA) countries, UK-based manufacturers and formulators must either transfer their business to, or appoint an only representative (OR) in, one of these countries. Without an OR, the EU-27/EEA importers of UK substances will have to submit their own registrations

The agency plans to open a ‘Brexit window’ in REACH-IT from 12 to 29 March, to them to make these changes and transfer their REACH registrations, with step-by-step instructions on how to do this. The pages also include a link to the European Chemical Industries Federation’s (CEFIC) recommended standard wording for the suspensive conditional clause to be used in contractual arrangements when appointing ORs.

Similarly, downstream users in EU-27/EEA countries who rely on REACH authorisations granted to UK-based companies need to make sure that there is another EU-27/EEA supplier with a valid authorisation for their use. They must also notify their exports of hazardous substances to the UK under PIC, which can be done using the ePIC tool 35 days before the export. Further advice will soon be given on how to deal with exports to the UK immediately after the UK’s effective withdrawal.

Companies based in the EU-27/EEA will also need to prepare for placing substances on the UK market after 29 March, which will be governed by UK law. The UK Health & Safety Executive (HSE) has published guidance and further details, including a list of substances registered only by UK companies, are available on ECHA’s web pages.

This follows on shortly from the briefing note issued by CEFIC and the UK’s Chemical Industries Association (CIA) to support and prepare businesses for the eventualities of the UK leaving the EU, setting out practical considerations to maintain trade post-Brexit. What you need to know - Practical considerations to maintain trade post Brexit is available via both associations’ websites and is all about the practical difficulties companies may face in complying with chemicals legislation.

While mainly focused on REACH registration, this also covers other aspects of REACH compliance, plus the CLP, BPR and PIC, as well as trade issues like potential tariffs, IP, Rules of Origin, Incoterms and VAT systems migration. It gives practical advice under three headings:

  1. Maintaining access to EU single market: Considerations for UK-based businesses
  2. Considerations for EU-based companies with UK supply and trade relationship
  3. Implications of a future UK REACH for UK and EU-27/EEA companies

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