On 31st January 2020, the UK officially left the EU and we are now in the transition period until 31st December. After this date, we will no longer trade as a member and will be regarded as a third country for the purposes of importing and exporting.
European legislation, including REACH, will no longer apply and registrations by UK companies will no longer be valid. This has several consequences. Chemical users who currently need to comply with any aspect of REACH should put in place contingency plans to ensure business continuity and compliance with whatever replaces REACH in the UK. Here are some examples of issues that you should consider if you supply products to Europe.
UK-based Manufacturer : Your best option likely to be available is to appoint an Only Representative (OR) based in the EU and transfer any registrations that you hold. This could be a subsidiary or a specialist company. This avoids the requirement for your customers/downstream users (DU) in Europe to make expensive registrations.
ECHA has opened a ‘Brexit window’ in REACH-IT so that UK-based companies can transfer their REACH registrations. Detailed instructions for using the ‘Brexit window’ are available on ECHA’s web pages for the UK’s withdrawal from the EU.
After 1 January 2021, you will have a short window to provide basic information to grandfather your registrations into the UK database.
UK-based Importers : You cannot appoint an OR to register substances from third countries that you send to Europe. You must instead set up an operation in the EU and transfer your registrations for the same reason as above.
Non-EU manufacturers with UK-based Only Representatives : You must switch to an OR based in the EU. Many UK-based Only Representatives have already established subsidiaries or partnerships in the EU so that contracts can be easily transferred. You will, however, still require a UK-based Only Representative for your exports into the UK.
Warning : ECHA charges a fee to change the Legal Entity. If it is not paid, the registrations will revert to the original Only Representative and be lost.
If you are already importing registered substances from the EU, the situation is easier. There will be a UK replacement for REACH that will be very similar in its operation to REACH itself. There will be a short pre-registration period immediately after the transition period ends when basic details will need to be notified (e.g. substance, company, tonnage). A full registration requirement will follow up to six years later. If you already hold a registration, you will be able to "grandfather" it into the UK database
Warning: Until the end of the transition period, you do not have to register your imports from elsewhere in the EU. After this time, imports from the EU will be treated the same as from the Rest of World. In the same way, registrations by EU manufacturers and importers will no longer be valid for the UK. They will, however, be able to appoint UK based Only Representatives.
Companies holding EU Authorizations : Authorisations in the name of UK legal entities will also cease to exist after Brexit. It will, however, be possible to grandfather these into UK-REACH. If you have unfortunately applied for authorisation but are waiting for a decision, you must submit it again to UK-REACH, that will respect EU decisions.
All UK based chemical manufacturers and users should be auditing supply chains now to identify any chemical purchases that cross EU/UK borders. You must understand the degree to which you are affected and the preparation measures you should be taking.
With continued political uncertainty regarding the withdrawal agreement, the Agency urges companies to act now to continue compliance with their obligations under not only REACH but the Classification, Labelling and Packaging (CLP); Prior Informed Consent (PIC); and Biocidal Products (BPR) regulations.
We also advise companies to refer to the Brexit guidance published on the UK Health and Safety Executive website.
If you would like further information or guidance on what you should be doing, please contact us via our Contact page.