The Importer-of- Record and REACH Obligations
REACH has all the transparency of a national tax code – even when it comes to import/export activities between two divisions of a multi-national company.
For example, imagine that Heavy Equipment, Inc., (HEI/US) ships a preparation - windshield washer – and a component article - hand grips - to its sister organization in France (HEI/FR). HEI/FR incorporates the windshield washer and hand grips into finished cranes.
Within this scenario, HEI/FR has obligations as an EU producer of finished-assembly cranes that it places on the EU market. But, in the limited space available for this discussion, let’s focus solely on HEI/FR’s three possible obligations as the importer-of-record for the preparations and component articles that it imports and incorporates within those cranes.
1. Registering Substances
In the scenario above, HEI/FR doesn’t import substances by themselves. But what about the imported substances in the windshield washer preparation? HEI/FR may have registration requirements for the substances in the windshield washer if two criteria are met: a) the substances in the windshield washer are intentionally released during the crane’s normal conditions of use, and b) the cumulative amount of the substances in the windshield washer – measured across all the mixtures that HEI/FR both manufactures for the EU market and also imports into the EU – exceeds one metric tonne per year.
2. Notifying the European Chemicals Agency
Let’s say that the component hand grips that HEI/FR imports from HEI/ US contain a known Substance of Very High Concern – DEHP. Does HEI/FR have to notify ECHA about the presence of DEHP in the grips?
The answer is “yes,” if a) the concentration of DEHP exceeds .1% w/w of the grips and b) the cumulative amount of DEHP that HEI/ FR places on the EU market from all sources of imported and manufactured articles exceeds one tonne per year.
3. Communicating to Customers and Downstream Users
If HEI/FR imports grips containing DEHP, it must inform its customers and other downstream users if the concentration of DEHP in the grips exceeds .1% w/w. What is critical to note here is that there is no tonnage threshold needed to trigger this obligation.
In the above scenario, HEI/US is a non-EU firm. Its primary REACH-related obligations are business obligations. For instance, HEI/FR and its other EU importers will likely insert REACH-compliance clauses into purchasing contracts. Plus, they’ll demand documentation about the presence of any SVHCs, as well as their concentrations, safe handling methods and so on for both ECHA and downstream users. Plus, EU authorities might demand similar documentation before allowing HEI/US’ shipments into the EU.
EU divisions of global equipment firms face importer-of-record obligations, even if the non-EU exporting firm is part of the same global company. Global corporations would do well to investigate the registration, notification and communication services of an EU-based Only Representative. They might also consider contacting AEM for more detailed guidance on these complex, REACH-related issues.