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a) General / Procedure

Can a distributor be considered as the immediate Downstream User (DU) in the context of article 56(1) (e) and apply for an authorisation?

No. A distributor who only stores the Annex XIV substance before placing it on the market cannot be considered as Downstream Users in the context of Article 56(1)(e) (see Article 3(14) of the REACH Regulation). However, actors can no longer be considered as distributors if they use the substances themselves (e.g. repackaging). Then they are considered as downstream users and, as such, shall apply for authorisation (and may cover uses of their downstream users), unless already covered by an authorisation.

Distributors (i.e. entities who only store the substance) are "transparent" in the supply chain if they do not "use" the substance. Therefore an application granted to a downstream user should be understood as covering the manufacturer/importer of that substance and all the distributors in between. However, this only applies in cases where there are no actors using the substance (e.g. formulators, repackaging companies, etc.) between the downstream user applicant and the manufacturer/importer. Also, distributors have to communicate the relevant information (e.g. safety data sheets, authorisation numbers) to their downstream users.

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