Any companies importing products to the EU that include substances mentioned on a multinational list of restricted chemicals must now say so in their customs documents.
Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals (REACH) is a regulation dating back to 2006 that addresses the production and use of chemical substances and includes an Annex XIV list of substances restricted within the bloc.
From now on, the European Commission will require separate notification from importers if they are bringing in any of the relevant chemicals mentioned, even if it is only within pre-existing products, as well as the valid authorisation.
For example, this may include food additives within foodstuffs, or motor fuels within any vehicles being shipped.
Each company must make a notification in their customs documents to generate unique codes under the Integrated Tariff of the European Communities (Taric) system. This can then code all compliance measures to maximise the automatic clearance of customs.
Chair of the European Chemicals Agency Katja vom Hofe told Chemical Watch that previously, it had been difficult for customs authorities to see if products contained Annex XIV substances because one Taric code often contained multiple substances.
"Now each Annex XIV substance has a specific code and it's easier for customs authorities - if there is a request from a national enforcement authority - to give information on REACH shipments into the EU," she added.
The development is part of an EC scheme to better integrate REACH into customs provisions across the continent.