How Will Brexit Impact the Movement of Chemical Substances?

From 1 January 2021, a number of legislative changes will take place with regards to the movement of chemical substances in the Great British market, which many businesses will need to take note of. These can be broken down into two key pieces of legislation – the CLC Regulations and the REACH Regulations, both of which will replace those currently in place within the EU and European Economic Area (EEA).


CLC Regulations


From 1 January 2021, the European Union CLP Regulation will be replaced in Great Britain by retained EU law, otherwise known as the GB Chemicals Classification, Labelling and Packaging (CLP) Regulation. The purpose of this regulation is to ensure the free movement of substances, mixtures and articles in the Great British market, determining whether a substance or mixture displays properties that lead to a hazardous classification.


Businesses based in England, Scotland and Wales that place chemicals (substances and mixtures) on the Great British market will have to comply with the new GB CLP Regulations. From this date, Great Britain will also make its own decisions with regards to mandatory hazard classification and labelling (MCL), with the GB MCL replacing the EU harmonised classification and labelling system that currently operates within Great Britain.


What changes to the CLP Regulations will occur post-Brexit?


New guidance on the GB CLP Regulations and regime will be available from January 2021, and businesses will need to prepare for a number of changes:


› GB CLP Agency – businesses based in Great Britain that supply the Great British market with chemicals (substances and mixtures) will now deal with the HSE, who will serve as the GB CLP Agency. This will replace the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA)

› GB Notification – businesses based in Great Britain will be required to notify the GB CLP Agency when classifying and labelling any substances due to be placed on the Great British market, regardless of whether they are on their own or in mixtures

› GB MCL – where required, businesses based in Great Britain must classify and label substances in accordance with GB MCL. Entries in the GB MCL list will be hosted and managed by the GB CLP Agency

› New requirements for downstream users and distributors – distributors and downstream users based in Great Britain who are currently supplied by businesses in the EU/EEA will become importers after the end of the transition period, if such supply arrangements continue to be in place.


Will any of the arrangements regarding the CLP Regulations remain the same after 1 January 2021?


Responsibility for the classification, labelling and packaging of chemicals that are exported to the EU or EEA from Great Britain will continue to remain with the EU or EEA-based importer. The main duties placed on Great British-based businesses – including manufacturers, importers, downstream users and distributors (suppliers) – will stay the same when placing chemicals (substances and mixtures) on the market under the CLP Regulations. Such duties include classification, labelling, packaging, testing arrangements, identifying hazards and more. For further information and guidance on chemical regulations at the end of the transition period, visit the HSE website or


REACH Regulations


Once the transition period ends on 1 January 2021, the EU’s Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals (REACH) Regulations will be brought into UK law under the European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018, replicated with the necessary changes to make it operable within Great Britain. The key principles of the REACH Regulations will be the same, but will instead be known as UK REACH, and this will apply to any business making, selling or distributing substances, mixtures or articles within the Great British market.*

*Under the Northern Ireland Protocol, the process for Northern Irish businesses moving goods to and from the EU under the EU REACH Regulations will continue to apply to Northern Ireland after the end of the transition period.


Full UK REACH guidance is available on the HSE website, including information on how to continue moving goods between Northern Ireland and Great Britain.


What do the changes to REACH Regulations mean for businesses in Great Britain?


Businesses must review their respective roles within the EU and UK REACH systems, as well as their current supply chains, with certain actions required to access the EU, EEA and UK markets. EU REACH Registrations held by Great British-based companies will carry across directly into the new UK REACH regulations, legally ‘grandfathering’ the registrations into the new regime. UK-based holders of existing EU REACH Regulations may continue the ‘grandfathering’ process by providing basic information to the HSE by 30 April 2021.


From 1 January 2021, manufacturers and importers have a duty to register all chemicals that access the UK market. However, businesses based in Great Britain that are currently registered with EU REACH will no longer be able to sell into the EEA market without transferring their registrations to the EU/EEAbased organisation.


How can SOCOTEC help?


Please be advised that SOCOTEC is closely monitoring the situation with regards to the CLP and REACH Regulations and will release further guidance as and when new information becomes available.


For further information on how Brexit will affect your organisation and its individual requirements, click here.


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