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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.

Key Points

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.

Article Library

  • 2017 IMDS and Chemical Reporting Summit
  • Article 33 obligations under REACH; The law of unintended consequences…or were they intentional?
  • Reducing REACH Risk Management
  • You Can't Go it Alone
  • The REACH Data Dilemma: Part 2
  • The REACH Data Dilemma: Part 1
  • The Case for Training
  • The Importer-of- Record and REACH Obligations
  • The “H” Factor