REACH stands for Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and restriction of chemicals. REACH (EC) 1907/2006 is a European Union regulation that affects the supply and use of substances. It came into force on the 1st June 2007, and replaced a number of European Directives and Regulations with a single system.

REACH and EU Exit

You can find information and advice on REACH in relation to EU Exit on the Health & Safety Executive Brexit REACH webpage.

What does REACH do?

The REACH Regulation 2006 aims to:

  • provide a high level of protection for human health and the environment;
  • make manufacturers and importers responsible for managing risks;
  • allow the free movement of substances on the EU market;
  • enhance the competitiveness of the EU chemicals industry;
  • promote alternative methods for the assessment of hazards.

The Regulation:

  • requires manufacturers and importers of chemical substances to gather hazard information and assess risks;
  • can require the use of some particularly high-risk substances to be authorised;
  • restricts the marketing and use of certain hazardous chemicals and mixtures.

Who and what does REACH apply to?

Most businesses will be affected by REACH in some way. REACH affects any business of any size that:

  • manufactures chemical substances
  • imports chemical substances
  • distributes chemical substances
  • sells chemical substances
  • uses chemical substances

1st June 2018 was the final deadline for the registration of phase-in substances. By that date, any substance that has been pre-registered must be registered if manufacture/import is to continue in quantities of 1 tonne per annum (tpa) or more.

Substances of Very High Concern (SVHCs)

Under the Regulation (REACH), some substances have properties that are deemed to be of very high concern. These substances present particularly high risks to human health, or the environment, or both. Members States nominate SVHCs to be added to a candidate list for Authorisation.


ECHA may transfer priority chemicals from the SVHC candidate list to an authorisation list (Annex XIV of REACH) after careful consideration of the substance’s use and associated risks. Authorisation will only be granted to industry where it is shown that risks will be adequately controlled or socio-economic benefits of the use outweigh the risks.

The UK Chemicals Stakeholder Forum have recently updated their website on REACH Authorisations.

The following guidance documents shown are for use by small and medium businesses(SMEs) and can be viewed in PDF format:


Some chemical substances are restricted under REACH (Annex XVII).

A restriction may:

  • Place concentration limits for its use or ban an activity entirely.
  • Apply to the marketing of a chemical substance, or how it is used, or both.
  • Apply to all uses or to specific uses.

Restrictions are not subject to tonnage thresholds – you must comply with a restriction no matter what tonnage you market or use.

Role of the enforcing authorities

The enforcing authorities for REACH provisions are the:

  • NI Environment Agency (NIEA),
  • Health and Safety Executive for Northern Ireland (HSENI), and the
  • district councils.

​​The enforcing authorities will take enforcement action relating to the offence of breaching marketing and use restrictions contained in Annex XVII – where the chemical in question poses threat to the environment. 

The other enforcing authorities will also support the Competent Authority - HSE/HSENI by checking for offences relating to using an Annex XIV chemical without proper authorisation, or failure to follow the conditions of an authorisation.


NIEA will carry out campaigns to determine compliance with REACH restrictions and increase business awareness of REACH. NIEA will target high risk companies, and focus on high risk substances. Companies that are found to be Non-Compliant may be subject to enforcement action.

NIEA have carried out or in the process of finalizing the following chemicals campaigns:


Persistent Organic Pollutants 2007 regulations (POPS)


Further information on REACH regulations can be viewed at the following links:

Business Sector

An external contract entitled ‘Analysis of business sectors producing, marketing or using chemicals in Northern Ireland’ was assigned to PricewaterhouseCoopers and completed in December 2006. The project outputs are accessible through the link below:

Further information on REACH

If you would like any further information please contact Tommy Bengtsson of the Northern Ireland Environment Agency:

Telephone: (028) 9056 9297.

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