Understanding REACH: A Primer

Posted on: January 4, 2019

Hand holding beaker containing chemical - learn about the basics of the EU's REACH regulations from UL.

By Alexis Sumner

In December 2006, the European Chemical Agency (ECHA) implemented the Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation, and restriction of CHemicals (REACH), EU Regulation No 1907/2006. REACH aimed to replace a multitude of European regulations with one cohesive regulatory system. This new system moved the responsibility to demonstrate that substances can be used safely, from government onto industry.

REACH has regulations relating to the production, use, and distribution of chemical substances that keep the well-being of humans and the environment in mind. These regulations apply to all chemicals that are produced in the European Union (EU) along with chemicals that are imported in the EU. REACH applies to substances on their own and those used in a mixture or article. Many countries outside of the EU have begun to adopt a REACH like approach to chemical management.

Over the past decade, REACH has impacted many companies ranging from manufacturers, importers, downstream users and even companies making or importing articles. Understanding REACH and its breadth in regulating chemical substances and industry is critical for anyone involved in the supply chain. Compliance steps include:

  • Identify substances used and their tonnage
  • Identify role in the supply chain for each chemical substance
  • Work through REACH obligations for each substance

To comply with REACH and find information on each component of REACH, utilize the resources below.

Obligations based on your role:


ECHA considers you a manufacturer if 1) you are based in the European Economic Area (EEA), and 2) you either produce or extract a chemical substance.


According to ECHA, importers purchase a chemical product directly from a supplier who is based outside the EEA and move it to within the EEA territory.


Distributors either make or source a chemical substance or mixture within the boundaries of the EEA. If you then store these substances and place it on the market for another person to buy, you are a distributor.

Downstream users:

REACH considers you a downstream user if you are a company or an individual worker who use chemicals. Included in the downstream user group are companies who offer goods or services in which chemicals are not the main source of business (i.e., food, construction, cleaning companies).

Learn more about the different sections of REACH





Note: All of the links provided above came from the ECHA website and is free to users and is not exclusive. UL is not endorsed or accredited by ECHA.

Reach your compliance goals

UL’s global Regulatory Assurance Team contains more than 50 regulatory analysts worldwide, with multi-lingual support in more than 30 languages. We provide consulting services, registration dossier preparation, training on the REACH regulation and use of IUCLID software, regulatory data feed, and substance screening to assist in your compliance goals. Our SDS and label services offer compliance with REACH requirements for Safety Data Sheets. You can take a look at our full suite of regulatory services, and talk to an expert, here.

For other industry relevant information, including topical Regulatory News Articles, White Papers and Webinars, visit our Resource Center.

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The views, opinions and technical analyses presented here are those of the author, and are not necessarily those of UL LLC. All content is subject to copyright and may not be reproduced without prior authorization from UL. While the editors of this site may verify the accuracy of its content from time to time, we assume no responsibility for errors made by the author, editorial staff or any other contributor.