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UK companies consider REACH authorisation transfer ahead of Brexit

Organisation - Echa - CLP © European Chemicals Agency

Six UK-based companies that have applied for a REACH authorisation for a specific use of an SVHC are contemplating transferring their applications to EU entities ahead of Brexit, Echa said.

All REACH authorisations or registrations filed by manufacturers, importers or only representatives (OR) based in the UK will no longer be valid in the EU or European Economic Area if Britain leaves the single market on 29 March.

The six have informed Echa that they have "clear plans" for Britain’s departure and will decide "in the weeks to come" whether to move applications to a company operating in the EU27 so as to continue supplying the respective substances, the agency told Chemical Watch.

They are the only upstream companies that have applied for, or have been granted, an authorisation. Echa identified them following a request from the European Commission, and in January asked about their plans. The EU executive wants to ensure that there would be no market disruption if Brexit goes ahead, Echa said.

The companies and the substances concerned are:

  • Indestructible Paint – pentazinc chromate octahydroxide;
  • Brenntag UK – potassium dichromate and sodium dichromate;
  • Wesco Aircraft EMEA – sodium chromate and strontium chromate;
  • PPG Central Industries UK – strontium chromate and potassium hydroxyoctaoxodizincatedichromate;
  • Cytec Engineered Materials – strontium chromate; and
  • Elementis Chromium – chromium trioxide.

In addition, Echa said, there are some UK-based downstream companies with authorisation applications. However these applications or authorisation decisions will not have an impact in the EU27 "as the authorisation concerns the use of the substance only" and not the articles the companies produce.

A case in point is aircraft engine manufacturer Rolls Royce. The company has an authorisation in the UK, Echa said, but the engines it sells in Europe are not affected.

Registration exodus?

A growing number of UK companies are also looking to move REACH registrations to the EU27, according to trade associations and Echa.

The agency's helpdesk is receiving "an increasing number" of enquiries by companies seeking advice on undertaking such transfers.

So far it has not yet detected "any substantial increases" in the number of registrations transferred. It added that it will know more when it opens its 'Brexit window' in the REACH-IT system from 12 to 29 March. This will enable companies to make changes and transfer their REACH registrations. The window was announced as part of comprehensive instructions on Brexit issued to companies earlier this month.

Under REACH, the mechanism for companies in the UK to transfer manufacture or import and the resulting registrations is through a ‘legal entity change’.

With the clock ticking down to Brexit and no agreement yet on the withdrawal terms, contingency planning by companies "has very firmly moved to contingency action", the Chemical Industries Association (CIA) said. "The longer we wait for any deal, the more this will happen."

And the Chemical Business Association (CBA) said companies were already moving their registrations. It named Zanos – supplier of essential oils and aroma chemicals – among those that have done so.

Some SMEs are setting up new EU subsidiaries or disposing of their businesses to EU27 ownership, the CBA added.

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