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Feature article - What are you DUIN?

A key deadline for UK REACH is coming this month. Andrew Warmington reports from ChemUK 2021

Not surprisingly, UK REACH was one of the big topics at the panel discussions and individual presentations given at the ChemUK show, which took place at the NEC near Birmingham on 15-16 September. UK REACH came into force on 1 January, the day after the UK left the EU.

According to Amy Jackson, principal consultant at REACHLaw’s UK offices in Liverpool, UK REACH is defined as EU REACH as of 31 December 2020, plus the statutory instruments (SIs) implementing it: SI 2019 Nos. 75, 85 and 1144, 2020 No. 1577. As yet, she noted, there is no consolidated version of UK REACH, something industry very much wants.

The Health & Safety Executive (HSE) is the equivalent to ECHA for UK REACH and dossiers are submitted to it through the ‘Comply with UK REACH’ IT system. The HSE is responsible for all aspects of SVHC identification. On Annex XIV entry, authorisation and Annex XVII restriction, the agency gives opinions, but the final decision lies with the Secretary of State for Environment, with the concurrence of the devolved administrations in Scotland and Wales. It is important to note that UK REACH refers to Great Britain (GB), i.e. England, Scotland and Wales; Northern Ireland (NI) remains within EU REACH.

The main requirements are the same as EU REACH in terms of registration, authorisation, restriction and supply chain communication, Jackson said. There is a sliding scale of registration fees for new substances. Key registration deadlines for substances that are not specifically exempt are:

27 October 2023 for all substances at ≥10,000 tonnes/year, those very toxic to aquatic organisms at ≥100 tonnes/year, and both Candidate List (as of 31 December 2020) and carcinogenic, mutagenic or reprotoxic substances at ≥1 tonne/year,

 27 October 2025 for the 100-1,000 tonnes/year band

* 27 October 2027 for the 1-100 tonnes/year band

However, there is a much more urgent deadline that companies need to be aware of, which derives from a key difference between EU and UK REACH. GB downstream users and distributors sourcing chemicals from EU, the European Economic Area (EEA) and NI are now importers under UK REACH and their activity must be covered by a UK REACH registration.

Among the key transitional measures to UK REACH, the deadline for the ‘grandfathering’ of substances with an existing EU registration passed on 30 April. The deadline for downstream user import notifications (DUINs) about substances that are imported either on their own or in mixtures falls on 27 October.

The requirement for a DUIN applies if you have acquired importer obligations under UK REACH as a previous downstream user or distributor of a substance in an EU- or EEA-based registration that was previously covered by an Only Representative (OR). Companies can make use of this notification provision to ensure continuity of supply. DUIN substances are subject to full registration in the longer term and ‘existing supply’ must be demonstrated.

Companies covered by an EU- or EEA-based OR are considered to be downstream users or distributors, Jackson said. If substances were actively imported into GB covered by an EU or EEA OR, an OR with a base in the UK can be appointed to notify via the DUIN and can thus cover import obligations for the same recipient(s).

The importer must be able to show ‘active trade’, even if they are importing from a different supplier. All other cases must first officially inquire and register substances before placing them on the GB market at >1 tonne/year, just as they would without Brexit.

Submitting a DUIN is not onerous, Jackson added. All of the information required is found on the relevant safety data sheet; the DUIN is submitted to the HSE using ‘Comply with UK REACH’ and by e-mail; and there is no fee. If an OR submits the DUIN, GB importers covered by the OR do not have to submit their own.

That said, there is no provision for pre-registration, late pre-registration or a late DUIN in UK REACH. Therefore, those affected must act now. The key things to do are to:

1. Identify your position within the supply chain

2. If you are the GB importer, check if a DUIN has been submitted, or if you are covered by an OR

3. If not, prepare and submit a DUIN by 27 October Companies that cannot benefit from the transitional measures must register before placing the substance on the GB market at ≥ 1 tonne/year.  

However, if the substance has been EU REACH-registered, they may be eligible for the New Registration of Existing Substance (NRES) process, in which case they should defer the submission of the full information requirement and join a joint registration. The HSE will inform them whether NRES applies to them once an inquiry dossier has been successfully submitted.

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