REACH is the European regulation regarding chemicals. The English abbreviation REACH stands for Registration, Evaluation and Authorisation of Chemicals (REACH). REACH must improve our knowledge of the inherent risks of chemicals and lead to their safer use.

Protection of health and the environment

The aim of REACH:
- improving the protection of health and the environment against the risks of chemicals;
- strengthening the competitiveness of the European chemical sector, which is a very important sector in the European economy;
- promoting alternative methods;
- the free circulation of substances on the internal market of the European Union.

More responsibility for the industry

The major innovation of REACH is the fact that the chemical sector takes the maximum responsibility to manage the risks posed by chemicals and to provide appropriate safety information to the users.

The REACH regulation requires companies to inform the public, on request and within 45 days of such a request, if the article they are placing on the market contains a substance of very high concern (SVHC) (Article 33.2). The aim of the European Life AskREACH project is to facilitate information sharing between companies and citizens or consumers. It contains a database enabling companies to encode their articles containing one or more SVHC. It is linked to a smartphone application (Scan4Chem) enabling citizens to scan consumer articles in stores and check whether they contain SVHC or send a query to the supplier.  

The regulation also enables the European Union to take additional measures for particularly hazardous substances.

REACH also established the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) which plays a central coordinating and executive role in the entire process.

All manufacturers and importers of chemicals are bound to determine and manage the risks associated with the substances they manufacture and market. With regard to substances manufactured or imported in quantities of at least one ton per year and per company, manufacturers and importers must prove that they comply with all the regulations by means of a registration file that they submit to the ECHA.

Four phases

REACH provides:

• the registration to the ECHA of the substances that are manufactured or imported in quantities of at least 1 ton per year by every manufacturer or importer;
• the evaluation by the competent authorities of certain substances that are selected on the basis of tonnage and other criteria;
• the authorisation procedure for the most alarming substances;
• the restriction procedure for certain hazardous substances (such as asbestos and mercury) and preparations as well as certain hazardous objects.

You will find a detailed overview of the different REACH procedures and deadlines on this website.

REACH in Belgium: a coordinated approach

The implementation of REACH is partially a federal and regional authority and partially an authority of the communities. The complexity of the application and enforcement of REACH requires a coordinated approach. That is why a cooperation agreement has been concluded between the competent federal and regional governments.

The umbrella website Reach in contains information about this agreement and the role of the different governments.

In the interest of defence, an exemption from the REACH, CLP or Biocides Regulation can be granted for substances, mixtures, objects or treated objects that are imported, produced, manufactured or used for military equipment (Royal Decree of 9 March 2014).

Contact information can be found in the section ‘who does what’.