LONDON — The UK Government has issued guidance to businesses that use chemicals on the actions they should take now to minimize any disruption in the event of a no-deal Brexit.

If the UK leaves the EU on March 29 without a deal, UK businesses that manufacture or import chemicals from the EU will have to register those chemicals to a new UK regulatory system. UK REACH (Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals) will replace EU REACH and will require businesses to demonstrate how a chemical can be safely used with minimal risk to human health or the environment.

The chemicals sector is the UK’s second-biggest manufacturing industry, and UK businesses currently hold over 12,000 registrations with REACH. A no-deal Brexit would mean that a range of other key sectors would also be required to register any imported chemicals they use on UK REACH.

Environment Minister Thérèse Coffey said, “Delivering a negotiated deal with the EU remains the government’s top priority, but it is the job of a responsible government to ensure we are prepared for all scenarios, including no deal.

“It is not just chemicals producers that could be affected by this change, so I encourage all businesses that use chemicals to read the guidance on the HSE website and check whether they need to take action.”

Under the new requirements, if the UK leaves the EU without a deal, UK businesses that manufacture a chemical (those currently registered to EU REACH) will need to validate their existing registration with the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) within 60 days of the UK leaving the EU; UK businesses that import a chemical substance from the EU will need to set up a new registration with HSE within 180 days of UK leaving the EU; and UK businesses that export chemicals to the EU will need to have an EU REACH registration in place once the UK leaves the EU.

In addition, more technical information will need to be submitted by businesses to HSE within two years of EU exit. The requirements are part of the government’s commitment to maintain environmental standards after the UK leaves the EU.

In order to register on UK REACH in a no-deal scenario, businesses need to take the following action:

  • Identify the chemical and quantity that they use;
  • Understand how to register that chemical by reading the EU Exit guidance; and
  • Prepare the information for that registration.

Businesses that may be affected should read the latest guidance on requirements for using chemicals after the UK leaves the EU on HSE.GOV.UK/EuExitReach.