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Chemical regulation

Working closely with the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) and the Environment Agency (EA), HSE has an important role to play in the UK's chemicals regulatory process.

The UK is strongly committed to the effective and safe management of chemicals. This will not change after Brexit.

Our priorities are to:

A scenario in which the UK leaves the EU without agreement (a ‘no deal’ scenario) remains unlikely given the mutual interests of the UK and the EU in securing a negotiated outcome, but as a responsible regulator HSE aims to provide support and advice in all outcomes. The following pages contain our most up-to-date guidance on preparations for different negotiation outcomes.

Implementation period guidance

Preparations for the proposed implementation period

The UK and EU negotiating teams have reached agreement on the terms of an implementation period and other separation issues including goods on the market. Subject to ratification of the draft Withdrawal Agreement, the implementation period will start on 30 March 2019 and last until 31 December 2020.

The UK will no longer be a Member State of the European Union during the implementation period, but market access will continue on current terms. This means that UK-EU trade will be able to continue on the same terms as now up until the end of 2020.

What businesses need to know about the proposed implementation period

During the implementation period, and subject to finalisation of the Withdrawal Agreement:

  • Registrations, approvals, authorisations and classifications in place before March 2019 will continue to be valid during the implementation period in the same way that they are now
  • REACH will continue to apply to the UK during the implementation period.
  • The process for registering new chemicals under REACH during the implementation period will remain the same as it is now, which will require UK companies to register with the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA).
  • During the implementation period, the UK will recognise all new registrations, approvals, authorisations and classifications granted by the EU.
  • During the implementation period, we expect that HSE will not be able to act as a ‘leading authority’ to conduct certain assessments under the Plant Protection Products, Biocides and REACH regulations. We will work with affected businesses to minimise disruption and delay to their ongoing assessments.
  • UK-based businesses will have the same rights during the implementation period as EU-based businesses to have their cases accepted and processed by ‘leading authorities’ based in other EU member states.
  • HSE will continue to process product applications under the Plant Protection Products regulations and Biocidal Products Regulation for the UK market under the national authorisation route during the implementation period. Any applications will be considered against the current rules and standards.

If there's no Brexit deal

The UK hopes to secure a comprehensive agreement with the EU on our future relationship. However, as a responsible regulator we continue to prepare for all scenarios, including the scenario in which no mutually satisfactory agreement can be reached. Extensive work to prepare for if there's no Brexit deal has been under way for almost two years and the Government is taking steps to ensure the country continues to operate smoothly from day one of Brexit.

An effective regulatory framework will be put in place for any outcome. The European Union (Withdrawal) Act converts current EU chemicals regulation into domestic law and ensures that chemicals regulations work in the UK. This means that the requirements established through these regulations will continue to apply in the UK after Brexit.

HSE is working with Defra, who are building a UK chemicals IT system to support the registration of chemicals placed on the UK market. This will guarantee continuity for businesses whatever the outcome of negotiations.

As part of the Government's work to prepare for a no-deal scenario, a series of technical notices have been published. These technical notices set out information to allow businesses and citizens to understand what they would need to do in the unlikely event that there's no Brexit deal, so they can make informed plans and preparations.

The following technical notices concerning chemicals regulation in the UK if there's no Brexit deal were published on 12 October 2018:

A technical notice relating to the Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and restriction of Chemicals (REACH) was also published on 24 September 2018:

This update does not constitute legal advice and companies should seek independent legal advice dependent on their specific circumstances.

Additional no deal REACH guidance

Updated: 2018-12-21