REACH - An Overview

By Chris Wagstaff.
14 Sep 2021

EU REACH Regulation was brought into UK law under the European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018. It was implemented formally on 1 January 2021 and is known as UK REACH.

This stands for Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals.

Employer Responsibility 

UK REACH requires employers/companies to do the following:

  • UK-based companies with existing EU REACH will carry across directly into UK REACH. They legally ‘grandfather’ the registrations into the new regime.
  • In order to ‘grandfather’ you must have supplied basic information to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) by 30 April 2021. Full registration must be completed from two, four or six years of 28 October 2021. This depends on your tonnage band deadlines.
  • GB-based companies that were downstream users or distributors prior to the end of the transition period, under EU REACH, are now importers. These users are able to notify the HSE that they wish to continue importing into GB from the EU. This is done via a Downstream User Import Notification (DUIN). This must be completed by 27 October 2021. And then full registration must be completed a per grandfathering.

Employees also have a right under REACH to access safety data sheets, chemical safety reports and other information about the substance(s) and mixtures provided to the employer.

As the ‘grandfathering’ deadline has now passed if a company did not meet the deadline a full immediate registration will be required.

If you haven’t registered, give us a call today for initial advice on 01455 858 132.

Reach in Context

The UK will continue to maintain the main aims and principles of EU REACH, namely:

  • the “no data, no market” principle
  • the “last resort” principle on animal testing
  • access to information for workers
  • the precautionary principle.

EU held registrations: UK downstream users

There are two options for these downstream users that rely on a registration held by an EU/EEA-based company:

  • You can continue importing substances as you do now on 1 January 2021. By 27 October 2021 you must notify the HSE using a Downstream User Import Notification (DUIN) of your intention to continue importing substances. A new registration must then be submitted to the HSE within 2, 4 or 6 years of 28 October 2021.
  • The other solution for downstream users is to encourage your EU/EEA supplier to appoint a UK-based Only Representative (OR). Or, you can change your supplier to a UK registered supplier.


From 1 January 2021, all substances that have gone through the full authorisation process (and have a review date) will be recognised by UK REACH. These chemicals can continue to be used by UK companies. New authorisation applications must be submitted to UK REACH. Authorisations waiting for EU/ECHA approval must also be submitted to UK REACH.

Importing from the EU to the UK

EU/EEA based companies who import chemicals into the UK under UK REACH must ensure that they are covered by a valid UK REACH registration. To do this the EU country will need to register using a UK based legal entity, this could be a UK-based OR an affiliate UK importer.

Registration under EU REACH for UK companies — reminder

GB-based companies currently registered with EU REACH will no longer be able to sell into the EEA market without either:

  • transferring their registrations to an EU/EEA-based entity (this must have been done in advance of 1 January 2021)
  • supporting their EU/EEA-based importers to become registrants.

Northern Ireland

Under the Northern Ireland Protocol, the process for Northern Ireland businesses moving goods to and from the European Union under EU REACH will not change from 1 January 2021.

The GB market will need to do a light-touch notification, known as 'Northern Ireland notifications’. For those who were importing before 1 January 2021, this information must be provided by 27 October 2021. For those who are importing for the first time, the information must be provided before the first import.

In Summary

From 1 January 2021, businesses can use the online service ‘Comply with UK REACH’ to:

  • Validate existing UK-held EU registrations (‘Grandfathering’)
  • Submit downstream user import notifications (DUIN)
  • Submit new substance registrations
  • Submit new product and process orientated research and development (PPORD) notifications.

Businesses will need to contact the HSE to ensure that they:

  • Validate existing UK-held products and process orientated research and development (PPORDs). This is known as ‘grandfathering’
  • Provide information on any authorisation matter. This includes new authorisation application, grandfathering of existing authorisations, and downstream user notifications of authorised uses.

Expert support

Do you need support with REACH or any other health & safety function? Get free initial advice from a Croner expert today by calling 01455 858 132.

About the Author

Chris Wagstaff

Chris is the Director of Health and Safety at Croner. Chris is also CMIOSH accredited, an IOSH Mentor and HSE People Champion and has over 20 years working in Health & Safety.


Fiona Burns

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