Selling consumer chemicals (shampoos, cleaners etc.) in the EU

gtechrob

Free Member
Dec 31, 2010
134
3
I run a product selling consumer chemicals (cleaners etc.).

Seem to have hit a brick wall on info on labelling our products in the EU post Brexit. Neither HSE nor the DIT seem to be able to give us a straight answer.

Current options we are aware of are:

  1. Appoint one of our EU customers as our Authorised Representative. Ie we put their contact details on our labels and they would have to deal with all REACH, CLP compliance etc. This we can easily do but it is not clear whether they would then have to ship all products to all our EU customers (this would not work).
  2. Appoint a third party Only Representative who would handle all REACH etc. – their details to go on labels and data sheets. V. easy to do but ludicrously expensive (have been quoted £100k /annum)
  3. Form Our Own EU or NI based Company Unclear if we would have to physically hold stock there to distribute to the rest of the EU. If we have to - this would be pretty much unviable.

Am guessing those in food and beverages have had to do this – any pointers gratefully received!!
 

Trevor Andrews

Free Member
  • Feb 9, 2021
    412
    125
    I cannot give you any pointers but we have had problems too.

    We ordered some natural soaps from a UK supplier and they got turned back. Ones from Ireland came through so you might find going through them might be an option.

    There was another post from a lady selling perfumes etc and she mentioned having a rep at a £1,000 a product.

    Most of our UK suppliers have found agents/distributors in EU.

    Have you tried the UK chemical trade association?

    Also DHL website has a section on what is required for each country.

    Finally, you could try ringing Boris!
     
    Upvote 0

    gtechrob

    Free Member
    Dec 31, 2010
    134
    3
    have you been through this process? be interested to know if you have and what costs you have been quoted.

    One company quoted us £90k/annum. Another a one off payment of £150k. This is for no more than 50skus with a total volume of no more than around 3 tonnes.
     
    Upvote 0

    gtechrob

    Free Member
    Dec 31, 2010
    134
    3
    You must have an Authorised Representative and there are special rules for such products as shampoos. The AR is fully responsible in most EU countries as if they were the manufacturer.
    have you been through this process? be interested to know if you have and what costs you have been quoted.
    One company quoted us £90k/annum. Another a one off payment of £150k. This is for no more than 50skus with a total volume of no more than around 3 tonnes.
     
    Upvote 0

    The Byre

    Legacy Full Member
    Aug 13, 2013
    11,838
    5,131
    We had a whole thread on this subject about a week ago.

    I am always keen on new business opportunities, so I commissioned some legal advice on this subject as we already have a company in Germany - but it does not import or export. I looked at the situation for electrical goods as that is what I am familiar with and the situation for Germany for electrical goods is far from clear, as the law has yet to be tested in court. No doubt, someone will commission a series of exploratory court cases (Aufklärungprossesse) about the various aspects of the enabling legislation.

    There are special rules for cosmetics, inc. shampoos.

    Until such time, we definitely have no intention of acting as a front for UK companies who do not understand the severity of German consumer laws.

    (The following is a cut-n-paste from other things I have written and are dealing specifically with Germany.)

    The main takeaways were -
    • The Authorized Representative is legally liable for defective or non-compliant devices at the same level as the manufacturer.
    • Anyone using your product should know who your Authorized Representative is. There is a special logo for that and this together with the contact details for the AR must appear on the product, labeling, packaging, and instructions for use.
    • All mandatory documentation should be available at the offices of the AR. These documents may be audited and must be presented to the competent authorities upon request.
    Special to Germany -
    • Three-year guarantee.
    • All documentation in German.
    • Liability for import duties travels with the product.
    • The AR is liable for any and all laws and regulatory requirements that must be followed.
    So, to put it simply, an AR in Germany is you! He, she, or it must carry all the responsibilities and obligations of the manufacturer. The German authorities will only contact and deal with that one person or company. They are extremely unlikely to want to talk to a UK company.

    There are agencies that will do this for you but as you have found out, they want real money! They may say or write that they are just a representative, but somewhere deep in the contract will be an open-ended penalty clause making you fully liable for any and all damages that they may suffer within the EU. At a guess, even if it is their fault! It would hardly surprise me if you had to hand over a security deposit. Sooner or later, someone at one of these agencies is going to get burnt! German consumer law is especially draconian!

    It is an interesting situation and explains why thousands of UK companies have opened EU offices. The worst that could happen to them in Germany is that the GmbH gets liquidated.

    Another is to use the Amazon fulfillment service - they are big enough to carry such responsibilities.

    If some bogus Chinese manufacturer's CE procedures are not in accordance with the rules as laid down by the Commission, it is the AR that is liable for the €100,000 (max) fine and for a total product recall. The consequences under liability law extend to criminal prosecution, so it is the AR that gets a criminal record!

    As of July last year, fines for simple procedural mistakes were increased from €3k to €10k and fines for actual endangerment went from €30k to €100k.

    Here are some of the procedural mistakes that the AR will be held responsible for -
    • Errors in the CE marking, e.g. the CE mark is attached, although it is not needed.
    • The CE mark is misused in other ways.
    • There is an incorrect CE marking on a product.
    • The EC declaration of conformity is not provided.
    • Instructions for use in German are not supplied.
    • Installation instructions in German required for using the product are not provided.
    • Required information and labeling in German are missing for consumer products.
    • Technical documents in German are not provided.
    • The AR does not cooperate sufficiently with the labour inspectorate.
    • Despite clear indications of the dangers to safety and health emanating from its product, the company has not informed the responsible market supervisory authority and has thus violated the obligation to disclose.
    So you see that the role of the AR extends far beyond that of a nominal person on the ground. He/she is far more than just an import representative and the full weight of the law rests on that person or company.
     
    Upvote 0

    gtechrob

    Free Member
    Dec 31, 2010
    134
    3
    We had a whole thread on this subject about a week ago.

    I am always keen on new business opportunities, so I commissioned some legal advice on this subject as we already have a company in Germany - but it does not import or export. I looked at the situation for electrical goods as that is what I am familiar with and the situation for Germany for electrical goods is far from clear, as the law has yet to be tested in court. No doubt, someone will commission a series of exploratory court cases (Aufklärungprossesse) about the various aspects of the enabling legislation.

    There are special rules for cosmetics, inc. shampoos.

    Until such time, we definitely have no intention of acting as a front for UK companies who do not understand the severity of German consumer laws.

    (The following is a cut-n-paste from other things I have written and are dealing specifically with Germany.)

    The main takeaways were -
    • The Authorized Representative is legally liable for defective or non-compliant devices at the same level as the manufacturer.
    • Anyone using your product should know who your Authorized Representative is. There is a special logo for that and this together with the contact details for the AR must appear on the product, labeling, packaging, and instructions for use.
    • All mandatory documentation should be available at the offices of the AR. These documents may be audited and must be presented to the competent authorities upon request.
    Special to Germany -
    • Three-year guarantee.
    • All documentation in German.
    • Liability for import duties travels with the product.
    • The AR is liable for any and all laws and regulatory requirements that must be followed.
    So, to put it simply, an AR in Germany is you! He, she, or it must carry all the responsibilities and obligations of the manufacturer. The German authorities will only contact and deal with that one person or company. They are extremely unlikely to want to talk to a UK company.

    There are agencies that will do this for you but as you have found out, they want real money! They may say or write that they are just a representative, but somewhere deep in the contract will be an open-ended penalty clause making you fully liable for any and all damages that they may suffer within the EU. At a guess, even if it is their fault! It would hardly surprise me if you had to hand over a security deposit. Sooner or later, someone at one of these agencies is going to get burnt! German consumer law is especially draconian!

    It is an interesting situation and explains why thousands of UK companies have opened EU offices. The worst that could happen to them in Germany is that the GmbH gets liquidated.

    Another is to use the Amazon fulfillment service - they are big enough to carry such responsibilities.

    If some bogus Chinese manufacturer's CE procedures are not in accordance with the rules as laid down by the Commission, it is the AR that is liable for the €100,000 (max) fine and for a total product recall. The consequences under liability law extend to criminal prosecution, so it is the AR that gets a criminal record!

    As of July last year, fines for simple procedural mistakes were increased from €3k to €10k and fines for actual endangerment went from €30k to €100k.

    Here are some of the procedural mistakes that the AR will be held responsible for -
    • Errors in the CE marking, e.g. the CE mark is attached, although it is not needed.
    • The CE mark is misused in other ways.
    • There is an incorrect CE marking on a product.
    • The EC declaration of conformity is not provided.
    • Instructions for use in German are not supplied.
    • Installation instructions in German required for using the product are not provided.
    • Required information and labeling in German are missing for consumer products.
    • Technical documents in German are not provided.
    • The AR does not cooperate sufficiently with the labour inspectorate.
    • Despite clear indications of the dangers to safety and health emanating from its product, the company has not informed the responsible market supervisory authority and has thus violated the obligation to disclose.
    So you see that the role of the AR extends far beyond that of a nominal person on the ground. He/she is far more than just an import representative and the full weight of the law rests on that person or company.


    thanks for this info.

    What is utterly gobsmacking is that the jolly old UK govt seem to be utterly incapable of giving us a straight answer.

    I suspect that as you have guessed at - nothing will flag up until a test case occurs - have seen the same with other factors where a ruling in a court in Hamburg seemingly overrides a EU regulation.

    Our best option now seems to be to get one of our EU importers to REACH register the x2 components that we export >1 tonne of to the EU and put their details on our label as our EU representative. The irony of this is that the x2 components are actually sourced within the EU.

    Hooray for frictionless trade!
     
    Upvote 0

    The Byre

    Legacy Full Member
    Aug 13, 2013
    11,838
    5,131
    What is utterly gobsmacking is that the jolly old UK govt seem to be utterly incapable of giving us a straight answer.
    Reasons -
    • Most civil servants are incompetent (the good ones leave for private enterprise!)
    • A straight answer such as I have given above would be politically unacceptable.
    • Civil servants seldom speak anything other than English (and that sometimes with difficulty!) so knowing what the rules are for France, Germany, etc., is beyond them.
    • They don't like to commit themselves to hard facts.
     
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