Roles and Duties

What a company needs to do to comply with REACH will depend on their role and where they sit in the supply chain. The information provided here gives information about the different roles a company might have and what that means in terms of REACH responsibilities.

Under REACH, all ‘actors’ in the supply chain have a responsibility to ensure that they manufacture, place on the market or use substances in ways which do not adversely affect human health or the environment. Obligations under REACH are determined by the role of the actor in the supply chain: be it a manufacturer, importer, downstream user or distributor. In addition, the role of the only representative is addressed here.

Manufacturer / Importer

A manufacturer under REACH is considered to be any company manufacturing a chemical substance within the EU, while an importer is any company that imports a chemical substance from outside the EU. These ‘actors’ are considered to be at the top of the supply chain and therefore have most of the responsibilities relating to the chemical that they introduce to the EU market. Their key task is to register any substance manufactured or imported at greater than 1 tonne per annum. Such substances can be substances on their own, in a mixture or incorporated into an article with the intention of being released from that article. Registration involves gathering information on the substances and submission of a registration dossier to ECHA.

Registrants also have a responsibility to inform downstream users regarding the most appropriate risk management measures for safe use of the substance and to communicate with users on any other aspects of REACH.

Further information on registration.

Only Representative (OR)

An Only Representative (OR) is an EU legal entity appointed by a non EU manufacturer to represent him in relation to REACH.The OR completes the registration dossier on behalf of all of the EU importers – who then become downstream users. Appointment of the OR must be made in writing by the non-EU manufacturer; the EU importers must have confirmation of this appointment and that their tonnage is covered by the arrangement. In addition to registration, the OR is responsible for all duties of importers in relation to all other aspects of REACH. To fulfil his duties, the OR must have the necessary experience, competence and resources to complete the tasks.

Downstream User

Companies that buy their chemicals in the EU and use them in their industrial or professional activities are considered downstream users under REACH. Downstream users have a key role to play in advancing the safe use of chemicals by implementing safe use at their own site and communicating relevant information both to their suppliers and their customers.

Further information on the duties of downstream users can be found in our downstream users section.


A distributor is a person who stores and passes chemical substances onto third parties e.g. a retailer. The distributer has a duty to communicate information on substances within the supply chain and has an obligation to keep information relevant to those substances.

Further information on distributors’ duties under REACH can be found in our Information sheet