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Detailed guide: Regulations: restriction of hazardous substances (RoHS)

Overview

In Great Britain and in Northern Ireland many types of electrical and electronic equipment (EEE) are regulated to control the levels of certain hazardous substances and chemicals they contain, with the aim of protecting human and animal health.

All products in scope must:

  • have supporting technical documentation (often referred to as a technical file) to demonstrate compliance
  • have a Declaration of Conformity
  • be labelled with the required information
  • display the appropriate conformity marking for the GB and/ or NI markets as appropriate

In Great Britain and Northern Ireland, the Restriction of the Use of Certain Hazardous Substances in Electrical and Electronic Equipment Regulations 2012 (as amended) are the underpinning legislation. However, there are differences in how they apply in Great Britain and Northern Ireland, as explained below.

What is covered

The regulations in Great Britain and in Northern Ireland cover all EEE, cables and spare parts, with some exemptions including:

  • some equipment for military use or specifically designed to be sent into space
  • products integral to equipment that is not covered by the regulations
  • large-scale stationary industrial tools and large-scale fixed installations
  • photovoltaic (solar) panels produced for permanent use at specific locations
  • means of transport (apart from certain two-wheeled electric vehicles)
  • non-road mobile machinery specifically for professional use
  • products specifically for research and development available on a business-to-business basis
  • pipe organs
  • active implantable medical devices
  • phthalates in medical devices and monitoring and control instruments until July 2021

Extent of obligation

In Great Britain and Northern Ireland, manufacturers, importers and distributors, which include retailers, (known as economic operators) are responsible for the compliance of EEE that they place or make available on the GB and/ or NI market.

Economic operators in Great Britain and Northern Ireland must be able to identify who supplied them and who they supplied for 10 years following the placing on the market of the EEE.

How to comply

Manufacturers placing EEE on the market in Great Britain and/or Northern Ireland must evaluate their production controls to ensure that their products do not exceed the maximum prescribed levels of the following hazardous substances:

  • cadmium
  • lead
  • mercury
  • hexavalent chromium
  • polybrominated biphenyls
  • polybrominated diphenyl ethers
  • bis(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate
  • benzyl butyl phthalate
  • dibutyl phthalate
  • diisobutyl phthalate

In some cases, exemptions that allow these hazardous substances to be used above the maximum prescribed levels apply for certain specific technical applications.

A Declaration of Conformity must be completed, supported by technical documentation to demonstrate compliance, retained for 10 years after the last product is first placed on the market and be made available to OPSS on request. Other regulations that apply to certain EEE may require that technical documentation is retained for longer than ten years. For example, see guidance on energy labelling requirements.

Individual products must have a type, batch or serial number and show the manufacturer’s name or trademark, and address. Manufacturers must also declare conformity with all relevant legislation by affixing:

  • the UKCA mark, in the case of EEE being placed on the market in GB

and /or

  • the CE mark, in the case of EEE being placed on the market in NI

Some EEE will also be subject to regulations that require mandatory third-party conformity assessment.

Read further information on conformity assessment and the appropriate markings.

The CE marking will be accepted in the UK until 1 January 2022. You must be ready to use the UKCA marking from 1 January 2022 at the latest, although you should use it as soon as possible.

Until 1 January 2023, you have the option to affix the UKCA mark by means of a label, or similar, to the product, packaging, or documents, as required. After 1 January 2023, the UKCA mark should be directly affixed to the product.

Importers must:

  • confirm manufacturers have met the regulations for EEE they place on the GB and/or NI market
  • retain a copy of the Declaration of Conformity
  • ensure technical documentation is available to OPSS on request for 10 years after the last product is first placed on the market

Individual products must show the importer’s name or trademark, and a contactable address on the product or packaging.

If an importer places EEE on the GB or NI market under its own name or trademark, it must comply with all manufacturer’s obligations.

Distributors must:

  • ensure EEE displays the relevant markings
  • not make a product available if they have reason to believe it is non-compliant

If a distributor modifies EEE in a way that might affect the compliance of that product, it must comply with all manufacturer’s obligations.

From 1 January 2021, some distributors will become importers and will need to understand their obligations if their status has changed. You will become an importer if:

  • You are the first one bringing goods from outside the UK and placing them on the market in Great Britain.

Read guidance on how this change may affect you.

  • You are the one bringing goods for the first time into Northern Ireland from either Great Britain or another non-EU country and placing them on the Northern Ireland market.

Read guidance on how this change may affect you.

Economic operators in Great Britain and Northern Ireland must take specific steps if they know or suspect a product is non-compliant, including:

Notifications can be submitted to OPSS via the following form:

RoHS notifications guidance and form for completion (ODT, 28.2KB)

Please note: This form should not be edited. If you are unable to answer a question in full please make the reason for this clear.

Exemptions

Great Britain operate an exemptions regime, independent from the EU system. For all queries related to applying for an exemption please contact ROHS@defra.gov.uk

Northern Ireland will follow the EU system.

Find further information including guidance and an exemption request form.

The role of the Office for Product Safety and Standards (OPSS)

OPSS has been appointed by Defra to enforce the regulations in Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

Where to find out more

If placing products on the market or making products available on the market in Great Britain:

If placing products on the market or making products available on the market in Northern Ireland:

If you have a specific enquiry about compliance with the regulations, please use the contact details on our enforcement services page.