Control of trade in dangerous chemicals

Imports of certain dangerous chemicals into the EU are subject to controls under the Rotterdam Convention. This defines the prior informed consent (PIC) procedure for certain hazardous chemicals and pesticides in international trade. The EU Implements this procedure through Regulation (EC) No 649/2012.

The European Chemicals Agency helps exporters to comply with EU legislation on chemicals, and specifically also with the PIC procedure.

For specific requests please use ePIC.

All information regarding import requirements is contained in European Database of Export and Import of Dangerous Chemicals.

More information on trade in dangerous chemicals

Control of persistent organic pollutants (POPs)

EU policy aims at eliminating or minimising the use of these products, in line with the Stockholm Convention on POPs and the Protocol to the regional UNECE Convention on long-range transboundary air pollution – implemented by Regulation (EC) No 850/2004

More information on POPs

Registration, evaluation, authorisation and restriction of chemicals (REACH)

REACH is the EU's current chemical legislation. It establishes a new system for existing and new substances and sets requirements for manufacturers in the EU and EU importers of chemicals and products containing chemicals.

In the EU, the chemicals industry is responsible for providing information on the properties of chemical substances they produce. This information is kept in a central database run by the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA), which manages and coordinates the whole process.

Are your products involved?

The system covers all chemicals including those used in:

  • industrial processes
  • cleaning products
  • paints
  • clothing
  • furniture
  • electrical appliances
  • paint or cosmetic ingredients
  • office and scool supplies
  • textiles
  • electronic components

Certain product groups, such as food ingredients or pharmaceuticals, are exempted from REACH. The possible obligations under REACH for some products (e.g. pigments that can be used in food and non-food products) may depend on the eventual use.

EU legislation

The REACH system is the main legislation. There is also specific legislation governing products like detergents, cosmetics, biocides, etc.

Classification, labelling and packaging of substances and mixtures

Before chemicals can be placed on the EU market, they must be classified, labelled and packaged in accordance with the United Nations Globally Harmonised System (GHS), which classifies chemicals according to their hazardous properties. This system is implemented in the EU by Regulation (EC) No 1272/2008, which will gradually replace the current rules by 2015.

Information on the classification, labelling and packaging of substances and mixtures

Other relevant legislation:

Classification, packaging and labelling of dangerous substances

Classification, packaging and labelling of dangerous preparations

Plant protection products and biocides

In the EU, plant protection products must be authorised before they can be placed on the market, as must many of their component ingredients. The authorisation and approval arrangements are set out in Regulation (EC) No 1107/2009.

More information on plant protection products

Biocides must meet specific requirements. Examples of biocides include:

  • disinfectants
  • preservatives
  • non-agricultural pestides
  • nautical anti-fauling products

If you want to export wood preserving paints or antifouling agents to the EU, you have to make sure that your products are allowed on the market according to the EU legislation on biocides. Main requirements include a list of allowed substances and authorisation of the product.

This document focuses on the consequences of the biocide legislation for producers operating within the CBI target product group termed 'paints and coatings'.

Please note that the requirements for the placing on the market of biocidal products are not completely harmonised yet in all EU countries. Contact the Member State’s competent authority prior to exporting to that EU country.

More information on biocides


Detergents and surfactants must meet the biodegradability and labelling specific requirements.

If you export products in which manufacture Nonyl Phenols (NP) and Nonyl Phenol Ethoxylates (NPEs) are used, you must consider the EU restrictions on the use of these substances.

Examples of such products are:

  • detergent formulations
  • pesticides
  • leather
  • textile
  • wool
  • metal
  • cosmetic products

Note that the restriction on the use of NP and NPEs in products is limited to EU territory. However, EU buyers may require you not to use the substances in your production process to prevent concentrations of NPE or NPE present in the products.

If you want to export products containing solvents you have to make sure that you comply with the requirements set by the EU for solvents. Examples of such solvents include:

  • paints
  • paint strippers
  • coatings
  • dyes
  • inks
  • detergents
  • adhesives
  • skin-care products

More information on detergents


In the EU, fertilisers that meet requirements can be recognised as 'EC fertilisers' and traded freely on the EU market. Labelling and packaging requirements also apply to all types of fertilisers.

EU legislation on fertilisers

More information on chemicals

Specific requirements for chemical products

Ozone-depleting substances (ODS)

If you are an exporter of products containing ozone depleting substances (e.g. spray cans, refrigerators, solvents or fire extinguishers), you have to make sure that these ozone depleting substances used are not prohibited in the EU.

Some chemicals such as (hydro-) chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs and HCFCs) and methyl bromide cause global ozone layer depletion and these compounds may contribute to global warming.

Limited quantities of ozone-depleting substances (ODS) may enter the EU only under stringent conditions. In particular:

  • they may be authorised only for essential uses where no alternative is available
  • their (non-EU) country of origin must be a signatory of the Montreal Protocol on ODS
  • they must be accompanied by an import licence issued by the EU (DG Environment), within an annual quota

The requirements are set out in accordance with the Montreal Protocol to control ODS.

Imports of products and equipment containing or relying on ODS are prohibited.

More information on protection of the ozone layer

Fluorinated greenhouse gases

The following products exported to the EU must meet the requirements related to the use of fluorinated greenhouse gases:

  • refrigerating products
  • air-conditioning equipment
  • heat-pump equipment
  • high voltage switchgear
  • footwear
  • tyres
  • aerosols
  • fire protection systems

Fluorinated gases are powerful greenhouse gases which are extremely persistent in the atmosphere. To restrict the damage of these gases in the atmosphere, the EU set requirements for their use.

EU policy is to reduce emissions of fluorinated greenhouse gases covered by the Kyoto Protocol (hydro fluorocarbons, perfluorocarbons and sulphur hexafluoride).

Rules governing trade and marketing of these substances

More information on fluorinated greenhouse gases

Endangered species (CITES)

Imports of endangered species into the EU are subject to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).

If you export wild flora, fauna, or products thereof, you should take into account the provisions laid down by CITES in order to guarantee the EU entry of your products.

CITES prohibits or restricts the trade of specimen of certain (endangered) listed animals, plants, or products containing material from these species, for example:

  • leather articles
  • handicrafts
  • jewellery
  • flowers
  • plants
  • furniture
  • antiques

As a result, the EU prohibits the import of specimen of certain endangered species. For specimen of other species, the import is under certain circumstances allowed but only if the shipment is accompanied by official documentation: #

  • (re-)export permits
  • import permits
  • import notifications

Specimens of endangered species (and parts or derivatives) entering the EU must be accompanied by permits and certificates.

More information about trade in wild flora and fauna


The EU has specific legislation in place regarding the proper handling of waste in its entry into and exit from the European Market.

EU legislation on waste management

More information on EU policy on waste

Shipment of waste

EU policy requires all waste entering the EU to be authorised in advance and notified to the authorities. Radioactive waste is subject to specific requirements

More information on the shipment of waste

Packaging waste

All packaging placed on the EU market must meet basic requirements regarding composition and recoverability. These requirements aim to prevent the production of packaging waste, to promote the reuse of packaging (recycling or other forms of recovering packaging waste) and as such to reduce the final disposal of such waste.

In particular, packaging must:

  • be of minimal value and weight
  • contain minimal quantities of hazardous substances (especially heavy metals)
  • be suitable for reuse, recovery and recycling.
  • labelled to indicate its composition (to facilitate collection, reuse and recovery)

The requirements directly relevant for producers mainly relate to maximum concentration levels for heavy metals (lead, cadmium, hexavalent chromium and mercury) contained in packaging and to labelling (marking and identification of the materials used).

More on EU policy on packaging waste

Waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE)

EU rules restrict the use of hazardous substances in electrical and electronic equipment and promote reuse, recycling and other forms of recovery of such waste.

EU legislation on waste electrical and electronic equipment

More information on the review of the EU rules on waste electrical and electronic equipment

Batteries and Accumulators

EU rules prohibit the marketing of batteries containing hazardous substances and require spent batteries and accumulators to be collected and recycled under special schemes.

EU legislation on batteries and accumulators

More information on EU policy on batteries