The law recognises the role you play between manufacturers and customers in enabling communication about chemical safety in the supply chain. Your active involvement is required to protect people and the environment from chemical risks. 

You are a distributor under REACH and CLP if you source a chemical substance or a mixture within the EEA, store it and then place it on the market for someone else (also under your own brand without changing its chemical composition in any way.

For example, retailers and wholesalers are distributors under REACH and CLP. 

You are not a distributor, whenever:

  • You buy chemicals from outside the EEA and place them straight on the market in the EEA. If so, you are an importer
  • You buy chemicals within the EEA and mix them with other chemicals, dilute them or (re)fill containers, before supplying them to others. If so, you are a downstream user

What do I have to do?

Communication in the supply chain is your main responsibility. 
This same responsibility applies to all suppliers of substances, mixtures and articles - manufacturers, importers, downstream users and distributors.



If you sell to industrial or professional users

You must communicate safety information on the hazards and risks of the chemicals you distribute:

Down the supply chain

The main instrument for this communication is the safety data sheet, which may be extended to include exposure scenarios for each identified use.

In the case of a hazardous substance or mixture

  • You must provide the safety data sheet and make sure that it is in the respective national language and includes information required by the national legislation, for example, on health and safety or disposal of waste
  • Make sure that the hazardous substance or mixture is labelled and packaged correctly

This means complying with the requirements of CLP. Important changes were introduced as of 1 June 2015, including new pictograms and hazard statements.

Find out more in the Introductory Guidance on the CLP Regulation.

Be aware that the labelling and packaging of biocidal products and articles treated with them have to comply both with CLP and other specific requirements.

For articles containing substances of very high concern

These are substances identified under REACH which have serious and often irreversible effects on human health and the environment. You have a duty to provide customers with sufficient information to allow the safe use of the article, including as a minimum, the name of the dangerous substance.

Up the supply chain

Your customers should give you information to pass to your suppliers upstream. This could be:

  • New information on hazardous properties of the substances or mixtures
  • Information which may make inappropriate the risk management measures they have received in the safety data sheet
  • Sufficient information on how they use the substance so that the use can be considered in the registration dossier for the substance

In this way, you can help manufacturers and importers to understand how their substances are used and to register some or all of the uses you have made known to them.

Your customers will then be able to receive the safety information they need to use to comply with REACH and CLP.


If you sell to consumers

Make sure that hazardous products are labelled and packaged correctly

When a product (a chemical substance or mixture), is identified as hazardous, it has to be labelled and packaged according to the requirements of the CLP Regulation.

This is the responsibility of manufacturers, formulators and importers and distributors. If you re-label or re-package such products to include your own brand, you also take the same responsibility.

As a supplier of hazardous products, you have to ensure that they are labelled and packaged correctly. The label should contain:

  • The hazard information in the required national language(s)
  • The EU supplier's contact details
  • The new hazard pictograms, signal words, hazard and precautionary statements which are compulsory according to CLP

Until 1 June 2017, you are allowed to sell mixtures labelled in the old way if you can provide evidence that they have been in the supply chain since before the legal deadline for the changeover on 1 June 2015.

Be aware that that there are additional labelling and packaging requirements for treated articles defined in the Biocidal Products Regulation.

Respond to requests from consumers

Consumers have the right under REACH and the Biocidal Products Regulation to ask if the articles you sell to them contain substances of very high concern above a certain concentration. This also applies to those which have been treated with biocides.

You must answer their request free of charge within 45 days. You are required to provide sufficient information and advice on how to use the article safely or information on the biocidal treatment of the treated article. Contact your supplier for any additional information you may need.

Typical examples of products to which the consumer "right to ask" applies are clothing, furniture, household utensils, sports equipment or other items for daily use.


Know what chemicals you store and supply

Before you place on the market a substance, mixture or article, you first have to make sure that it is legally on the EEA market. Check if it complies with the conditions described in the section ‘Manufacturer" or "Importer" and contact your supplier.


Taking a business perspective

You act as a bridge between suppliers and their customers and are essential for passing information throughout the supply chain. You have information about the hazards of substances in your portfolio, which you can turn into a business advantage by selecting safer products and raising your brand reputation.

Consumers have the right to ask about dangerous substances in articles. The right to ask gives information to consumers on the safe use of chemicals and motivates them and manufacturers to make safer choices.

You play an important role in this.