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Change in roles under UK REACH

13th April 2021 - Written by Jill Cottrell

The EU REACH (Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals) Regulation was brought into U.K. law on 01 January 2021 and is now known as UK REACH. EU and UK REACH now exist independently, meaning that businesses who operate in the EU (including Northern Ireland) and the UK will now have to ensure compliance to both regulations. At the moment, both EU and UK REACH are closely aligned, but are likely to diverge over time and this could affect areas such as the Candidate List for substances of very high concerns, restrictions and authorisations.

This article has been authored by Jill Cottrell, Senior Compliance Consultant and outlines key changes / updates with regard to your role under EU REACH which may have changed significantly under UK REACH.

Clients must ensure that going forward, they meet the relevant duties under both UK and EU REACH if manufacturing, supplying or purchasing substances, mixtures, or articles to and from:

  • The European Union (EU);
  • The European Economic Area (EEA);
  • Northern Ireland (NI) (unique in that companies need to comply with both EU and UK REACH due to the terms set out in the Northern Ireland Protocol); and
  • Great Britain (GB) (England, Scotland and Wales).

The role you previously fell within under EU REACH may have changed significantly under UK REACH so it’s important to review your role(s) as soon as possible to ensure that you meet associated compliance dates. The roles, as defined by the UK Health and Safety Executive (HSE), are as follows:


Produce or extract a substance either through chemical synthesis, smelting or extraction. Manufacturers are required to hold a valid registration for these substances under UK REACH.


Bring chemical substances into GB from either the EU/EEA or NI or from the rest of the world. Importers have responsibilities to hold registrations for these substances unless their non-GB suppliers, where applicable, have appointed an Only Representative to take on the duties on behalf of the GB importers.

Downstream Users

Companies or individual workers who directly handle chemical substances in the course of their business activities and who are not the GB-based manufacturer or importer of these substances. Some businesses who were classed as downstream users under EU REACH may find that they are classed as importers under UK REACH if they are sourcing substances directly from the EU/EEA. This may result in your organisation having new or different registration responsibilities.

Importers under UK REACH who were Downstream users under EU REACH

GB downstream users (who before the end of the transition period imported chemicals from EU/EEA and relied on an EU REACH registration held further up the supply chain) will become importers under UK REACH. These Importers must ensure that the substances they import are covered by a valid UK REACH registration.

Considerations in response to changes in the regulatory framework

Mabbett recommend the following considerations in response to these changes in the regulatory framework. Clients should:

  • Understand where the substances you use come from i.e. EU, EEA or GB and what volumes you utilise annually.
  • Identify if your role has changed since 01 January 2021.
  • If you are a Manufacturer or Importer (may formally have been a Downstream End User), then a valid UK REACH Registration must be held for all substances produced or imported (individual substances within mixtures need to be considered separately).
  • If you import substances over one tonne per year and relied on a registration held by an EU/EEA Company before 01 January 2021 you can continue to import substances, but you will need to complete a Downstream User Import Notification (DUIN) before 27 October 2021.
  • A UK REACH registration must then be submitted to the HSE before the compliance deadline (compliance deadlines are based on volume of substances being imported). Deadline dates for UK REACH Registration for substances brought in from post 28 October 2021 range from two years (1,000 tonnes or more per year) to six years (1 tonne or more per year).
  • If you are a GB holder of an existing EU REACH Registration, then you need to complete the ‘grandfathering’ process of this Registration by providing basic information to HSE by 30 April 2021. This means transferring your EU REACH registrations to the UK REACH system.

* Please note the legislation is known as UK REACH but uses Great Britain throughout as Northern Ireland fall under EU and UK REACH due to the Northern Ireland Protocol.

Further details can be found on the HSE website.

Further support

Our Compliance Team can support you if your role has changed or you think it has. Following the end of the Brexit transition period you need to understand these changes and any potential new obligations that you may need to comply with specific to your operations under UK REACH. Support services offered by Mabbett include: Identifying what role you fall within; Supporting you through the ‘grandfathering’ process, Advice on the completion of a DUIN, and UK REACH registration of substances.

Jill Cottrell

I'm an Environmental Compliance Consultant with a particular focus on environmental compliance, contaminated land and PPC permitting support.