10 REACH FAQs for Your Product Compliance

Are you new to complying with REACH (Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals)? For European Union (EU) products, complying with REACH is obligatory. But as a regulation that covers the entire span of EU member states and that has a frequently changing substance list, compliance can seem daunting.

Below are some frequently asked questions about REACH to help you understand the basics of complying with REACH and how you can find compliance solutions for your company.


What is REACH?

REACH (Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals) is an EU regulation that was introduced in 2007. Its purpose is to reduce the amount of harmful substances found in products. In order to comply with REACH, companies in the EU must register the substances in their products.

Who enforces REACH?

While REACH is administered by the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA), it is actually enforced by individual member states. Each jurisdiction determines the penalties for failure to comply with REACH and is in charge of enforcement within their member state.

Does REACH apply to me?

If you sell products on the EU market, REACH likely applies to you. REACH applies to any company that manufactures one metric ton or more of a substance per year. Even companies who may not see themselves as chemical producers can have roles in REACH compliance.

For manufacturers and importers, you will need to understand your REACH responsibilities and report your substances.

If you export products into the EU, you are not legally responsible for REACH reporting. Rather, that burden lies with the importer. However, you may be asked to supply chemical information to the importer.

Companies that use and handle chemicals (downstream users) will need to check REACH requirements to see if they have an obligation.

What are substances of very high concern?

Substances of very high concern (SVHC) are substances that may harm human health and/or the environment. These include substances that are:

  • Carcinogens
  • Mutagenic
  • Toxic for Reproduction
  • Persistent, bioaccumulative and toxic (PBT)
  • Very persistent and very bioaccumulative (vPvB)
  • Other substances where there is concern about their effect on human health (such as endocrine disruptors)

REACH aims to address the presence of SVHCs in products, reducing their use and providing safe use instructions for potentially harmful chemicals.

What substances are under the scope of REACH?

Almost all chemical substances manufactured, imported, or placed on the market in the EU are under the scope of REACH. While the substances in your products may not be SVHCs, they will still need to be reported if they are imported or manufactured at greater than one metric ton per year.

There are some exemptions, including total exemptions and partial exemptions. You will need to evaluate your products and chemicals to see if any of the exemptions apply to you.

What is the Candidate List?

The REACH Candidate List is a list of SVHCs that are regulated in REACH and are subject to possible restrictions. If a Candidate List substance is present in your products in a weight concentration above 0.1%, then it must be reported in REACH and you must provide information about safe use.

The goal of the Candidate List is to encourage manufacturers to reduce the amount of SVHCs used in products, hopefully even substituting them with a non-harmful chemical.

The Candidate List includes over 200 substances and is updated twice a year to include new substances of concern.

How do I register and report substances in REACH?

To register your materials in REACH you will use need to use a software system to report chemical data. There are two options that can be used:

  1. REACH-IT, which can be used online
  2. IUCLID, which is a software compatible with REACH-IT

What is the difference between EU REACH and UK REACH?

When the United Kingdom (UK) broke away from the EU, it developed its own system for chemical reporting called UK REACH.

UK REACH is very similar to EU REACH, requiring SVHCs in products to be reported. However, because it is a separate system being regulated by a separate jurisdiction, there is some divergence in what substances are required to be reported.

If you manufacture or import products into both the EU and the UK, you will have to report to both UK REACH and EU REACH. The systems are not connected.

How do I Use an Only Representative?

If you are outside of the EU but are required to comply with REACH and do not have an importer who is registering with REACH, you will need to use an Only Representative.

An Only Representative has offices in the jurisdiction of REACH and can register substances in REACH on your behalf.

If you need an Only Representative, contact Tetra Tech at [email protected]. With offices in the EU and in the UK, we can act as an Only Representative for companies outside of EU and UK jurisdictions.

How Can I Find REACH Support?

Understanding REACH compliance can be complicated. While these questions outline the basic parameters of who must report and how to get started reporting, there are complex requirements and exemptions to understand.

If you need help understanding your REACH obligations, or if you need Only Representative services, contact Tetra Tech’s experts at [email protected]. Our team has years of experience reporting within REACH and can help you meet your requirements and provide support as you move toward more sustainable products.

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