REACH and Switzerland

REACH obligations apply to Swiss companies manufacturing chemical substances in the EU. Chemical substances exported to the EU by Swiss companies must comply with REACH requirements, which either the EU importer of such chemical substance or the Swiss company’s only representative must ensure.

REACH regulates the handling of chemical substances within the European Union (EU). But since the EU is eminently important for the Swiss export industry, Swiss manufacturers, exporters and distributors of chemical substances are also impacted by it. Swiss companies which manufacture or reside in the EU as importers, are bound by all REACH requirements for chemical substances above a volume of 1 tonne per year.

While Swiss companies which export chemical substances to the EU do not themselves have any legal obligations vis-à-vis REACH, their EU importer or possibly their only representative are bound by it. The primary focus is on the registration with the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA).

Search for substitutes

Companies in Switzerland which import chemical substances from the EU to Switzerland, e.g. for the manufacture of preparations or objects, must be prepared for certain substances from the EU to become unavailable, either because their registration would be too costly or because a particular substance does not receive authorisation. Up to 30% of substances could be eliminated in the EU in coming years – for which substitutes must be found in time.

Duty to provide information

Manufacturers and users along the supply chain assume certain responsibilities under REACH. Manufacturers or importers must, possibly in conjunction with other manufacturers, demonstrate that the registered uses of their substances are harmless. Other professional or commercial users are mainly expected to correctly and safely use the substances and preparations according to the manufacturers’ recommendations. Furthermore, all actors are compelled to inform their suppliers or manufacturers as soon as new hazards or risks are discovered.

Legal amendments to REACH

The complete overhaul of the Chemicals Ordinance came into force on 1/7/2015. It includes certain technical adjustments to the REACH regulation. However, introduction of the core elements of REACH (registration and authorisation of chemicals) would require legislative adjustments. It remains to be seen whether and to what extent the REACH principles will be introduced in Switzerland.

Last modification 05.06.2018

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