Many businesses in Great Britain will have a responsibility under UK REACH. Some businesses have registration responsibilities under UK REACH and some do not. Some businesses may have new duties under UK REACH to those they had under EU REACH.

There are 3 main types of REACH dutyholder, explained below:

Businesses that manufacture or import (from outside GB) 1 tonne or more of any given substance each year are responsible for 'registering' that substance with 'The Agency' which is the Health and Safety Executive (HSE). Registration involves submitting a dossier of information about the substance and its uses to the The Agency. Substances in articles may also require registration (if these substances are intended to be released during use). It's possible that some manufacturers/importers of such articles will be registrants.

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

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

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. They must ensure that the substances they import are covered by a valid UK REACH registration.

Downstream users: are companies or individual workers who directly handle chemical substances in the course of their business activities and are not themselves the GB-based manufacturer or importer of the 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 will mean they may have new registration responsibilities.

Downstream user notification.

Companies that use chemicals have a duty to use them in a safe way, and according to the information on risk management measures that should be passed down the supply chain. There is also an opportunity to pass information about use back to registrants so that this can be taken account of when assessing the risks of chemical used.

You are a downstream user if:

  • you are a company or individual who directly handles chemical substances covered by the UK REACH (Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals) Regulation in the course of your business activities. This can be in either professional or industrial situations and involve mixtures or individual substances
  • you come into contact with chemicals in a business setting to produce mixtures, transfer substances between containers, produce components or finished goods, or as a means of carrying out your work (such as paints, adhesives, cleaning agents) you are a downstream user

Examples of downstream users can include:

  • dry cleaners
  • car washes
  • construction sites
  • users of solvents and adhesives
  • tanneries
  • makers of household appliances, toys, textiles and other goods

You are not a downstream user if you distribute chemicals or purchase products containing chemicals for personal user. Chemical retailers and consumers are not considered downstream users.

Downstream users may need to supply risk assessment and risk management measures to the 'the Agency' (HSE) if they don't want their supplier to know about how they use the chemicals. Some users may also be importers and have a duty to register.

Other roles

Only Representative: under article 8 of UK REACH, a non-GB manufacturer/formulator/producer of articles can appoint a GB-based Only Representative to fulfil the obligations of the GB-based importers. This may help maintain access to the GB market for their substances by reducing the responsibilities for importers.

Only representatives must be:

  • a natural or legal person established in Great Britain
  • equipped with sufficient background in the practical handling of substances and the information related to them
  • appointed by a mutual agreement with a manufacturer, formulator or article producer, established outside Great Britain
  • responsible for complying with the legal requirements for importers under UK REACH

Distributors: companies that store and place on the market a substance, on its own or in a preparation for third parties. They do not directly handle the substance. Providing they do not have importer responsibilities, they do not need to register with REACH. They do have an important responsibility to pass on information down the supply chain, including Safety Data Sheets.

Formulators: companies that produce mixtures and supply them further down the supply chain or directly to consumers. They mix together substances and/or mixtures, with no chemical reaction taking place during the process. Providing they do not have importer responsibilities, they do not need to register with REACH.

Third party representative: A third party representative may be appointed by a manufacturer or importer, or even a downstream user, to take part in discussions and negotiations over data and cost sharing with other potential registrants, so that the company can remain anonymous.

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Updated 2022-03-30