EU Exit: Chemicals - steps to take if you import from Great Britain to Northern Ireland

News article

Steps your business should take if you purchase chemicals (substances or mixtures) from Great Britain from 1 January 2021

Businesses in Northern Ireland which currently, or in the future will, source chemical products from suppliers or manufacturers based in Great Britain, need to take steps now to prepare for changes that will come into effect on 1 January 2021.

Chemical products are used in a variety of different industries, including automotive, manufacturing, agriculture and industrial operations, food industry, health care, and transportation industries. Chemicals form the basis of a wide range of products such as:

  • paint
  • cleaning products
  • coating
  • pigments
  • synthetic rubber
  • resins
  • plastics
  • salts
  • acids
  • fertilizers 

What is changing?

From 1 January 2021, businesses in GB will operate under new chemical regimes. Under the terms of the Northern Ireland Protocol, NI will remain within the following current EU regulations:

  • Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation & Restriction of Chemicals (REACH)
  • Classification, Labelling and Packaging (CLP)
  • Prior Informed Consent (PIC)
  • Biocidal Products Regulation (BPR)

If you import chemicals in this way, to either sell on as a distributor or use, for example in manufacturing processes as a downstream user, you may have to take on new responsibilities. It is important that your business takes action now to prepare for these changes. 

What should you do to prepare?

As part of your preparations, you should consider doing the following:

  • Map out your supply chain(s) to understand how your products are sourced, distributed and sold. This may include identifying the chemicals you use, sell or manufacture and, depending on your role in the supply chain, checking your regulatory responsibilities with respect to that chemical in the NI/EU market.
     
  • Consider your existing stock and any future stock that you require to operate your business, and identify whether the EU regulations apply.
     
  • Identify the chemicals that you buy or source specifically from GB. If you are not sure whether the product you buy is a chemical and covered by EU regulations, speak to your supplier. They should have this information.
     
  • If the chemicals you purchase are currently compliant with EU regulations, check if your GB supplier is taking steps to ensure the product can continue to be sold without disruption on the NI or EU market from 1 January 2021.
     
  • If you are a downstream user and bring these chemicals into NI from GB, you may have to take on the role of importer and will have new obligations. This can include under REACH, for example, having to register products with the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA). You should think about whether you are likely to become an importer - find out more on the ECHA website.
     
  • You will also need to prepare for customs processes on any purchases from GB. You, and your suppliers, should sign-up to the Trader Support Service (TSS) which provides businesses with free training, advice and support regarding the customs processes linked to goods moving from GB to NI. You will also need both a GB and XI EORI number.

You should take these actions now to help minimise any potential delays and to ensure that you comply with the relevant chemicals regimes from 1 January 2021.

Further information

If you require further technical assistance or advice you can contact the UK Helpdesk.

You can sign-up for access to Health and Safety Executive's (HSE) upcoming series of podcasts helping the chemicals industry prepare for the end of the UK transition period.

Invest Northern Ireland also has a series of webinars on chemicals available online.

Further specific guidance is also available in the following areas:

Selling or moving chemicals from Northern Ireland

You can also find guidance for Northern Ireland businesses making, selling or distributing chemicals to Great Britain from January 2021.


First published: 11 December 2020