• REACH Product Lab Testing: A Complete Guide

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    REACH (Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation, and restriction of CHemicals) regulates chemicals, heavy metals and pollutants in all consumer products imported to or manufactured in the European Union.

    Third-party lab testing is the only way to verify that your product or REACH compliant, and therefore legal to sell in the European Union.

    In this guide, we explain what every importer and exporter must know about REACH lab testing.

    What is REACH testing?

    REACH lab testing is essentially a material analysis measuring the chemicals and heavy metals content of restricted SVHCs (Substances of Very High Concern).

    Once the test is done you’ll receive a REACH lab test report which can be used as proof of compliance – assuming the product passes the lab test.

    The lab test can only pass if all regulated substances, such as lead and cadmium, are below the limits set by the REACH regulation.

    What is an SVHC?

    SVHCs are chemicals, heavy metals and pollutants banned or restricted by the EU. For example, the REACH regulation sets maximum limits on lead, cadmium, AZO dyes and hundreds of other substances.

    REACH testing facility in Vietnam

    What products can be REACH lab tested?

    As REACH is applicable to all consumer goods sold in the European Union, essentially all products and materials can be subject to REACH lab testing.

    Therefore, REACH lab testing is applicable to the following products:

    • Textiles
    • Plastic products
    • Jewelry and accessories
    • Watches
    • Furniture

    REACH lab testing costs

    REACH testing costs are multiplied based on the number of materials and colors. As such, a single colored material sample test costs less than a product made of multiple materials and color variations.

    How much is a REACH lab test?

    The average lab test costs between $300 to $600, assuming you intend to test two to three different materials and color variations. However, this figure is only based on our customer average spend.

    Example A: Red T-Shirt

    A single-colored material test is less expensive, as detailed in the table below.

    Overview# TestsCost (USD)
    REACH-Nickel Release170
    REACH-Total Cadmium Content120
    REACH-Phthalate Content140
    REACH-Organotin Content1100
    REACH-Pentachlorophenol Content190
    Total cost (US Dollars)320

    Example B: Wrist Watch

    However, a wristwatch made up of a watch case and leather strap costs more to test

    Overview# TestsCost (USD)
    REACH-Nickel Release270
    REACH-Total Cadmium Content220
    REACH-Phthalate Content240
    REACH-Organotin Content2100
    REACH-Pentachlorophenol Content290
    REACH-Hexavalent Chromium Content in Leather150
    REACH-Azo Colorants Content in Leather150
    Total cost (US Dollars)740

    Is REACH third-party testing mandatory?

    No, it’s not, and this is what also confuses a lot of importers, exporters, and manufacturers. All products sold in the EU must be REACH compliant, in the sense that products must not contain regulated substances above the legal limit.

    Products containing substances, such as lead and mercury, above the legal limits, are illegal to import and sell in the European Union.

    However, that being the case doesn’t mean that third-party REACH SVHC lab testing is mandatory. It’s up to you as an importer to decide whether you want your product to be REACH tested or not.

    That said, the importer must ‘ensure’ that the product is REACH compliant. In practice, a third-party lab test is the only way to do so.

    How do I know which chemicals and heavy metals to check?

    The good thing is that you, as an importer or exporter, don’t have to know which chemicals and heavy metals to check. In other words, you don’t need to tell the testing company which substances to include in the lab test and the limits that apply.

    The testing company makes that assessment for you, in the sense that they know what to look for based on the material.

    For example, testing companies such as QIMA and Bureau Veritas have a list of chemicals and heavy metals for different types of textiles, alloys, and plastics.

    All you need to do is to tell them that you want your products to be REACH tested.

    Can I get a test report from my supplier?

    In theory, yes. However, the situation is that manufacturers in China, and other exporting countries in Asia, don’t have test reports for every single material.

    At best, they may have a few old REACH test reports valid for a limited range of products and materials used in the past.

    But, it’s incredibly unlikely that you’ll find a supplier that can provide traceable test reports for the specific product or material you intend to import to the EU.

    In an ideal scenario, all materials manufacturers in, for example, China would have test reports for all their materials and submit these to their customers, such as factories listed on Alibaba.com.

    However, we are many years, if not decades, away from that being a reality.

    Cost is obviously the main obstacle, as REACH lab testing is not exactly free. Further, few manufacturers have the expertise and equipment to do such tests on their own.

    Do all EU importers get their products REACH tested?

    Certainly not. The problem here is that national market surveillance authorities in the EU could do a better job when it comes to informing importers, exporters and manufacturers about what REACH actually are, and how they should ensure compliance.

    Second, they could also do more when it comes to enforcement.

    The truth is that most small businesses importing products to the EU don’t understand what REACH is all about. Much less what they must do to verify if their products are compliant.

    I’ve even worked with purchasing managers, working for major retailers. responsible for tens of millions of Euros of orders, who struggle to get a grip around REACH compliance.

    How does the EU enforce REACH lab testing?

    Although relatively rare, national market surveillance authorities in the EU carry out on-site inspections and request test reports from e-commerce companies. This is also why you should get your products REACH tested before importing products to the EU.

    That said, I believe that compliance enforcement will become stricter in the future.

    Are products purchased from Aliexpress and Wish REACH tested?

    Dropshippers and non-EU e-commerce sellers rarely, if ever, get their products REACH tested. This is simply because REACH is only applicable to EU companies. There is no way to enforce REACH in China, Vietnam or anywhere that’s not part of the European Union.

    That said, a product can technically be REACH compliant without being tested.

    List REACH lab testing companies

    Here are some companies offering REACH compliance testing:

    • QIMA
    • Bureau Veritas
    • Intertek
    • SGS
    • TUV

    REACH Test Report Sample

    REACH test report sample

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    Disclaimer: The content on this website is provided for general information only. The content includes summaries written by our team members based on publicly available information about product safety standards, labeling, documentation, testing, processes, and other product compliance related topics. However, we don’t guarantee that we cover every single relevant regulation/standard/requirement, or that the information is free from errors, or covering every single scenario and exemption. We do make mistakes from time to time. We never provide legal advice of any sort.

    Changes/Updates: Product standards and substance restrictions are subject to frequent updates and changes. In addition, new regulations, standards, and/or requirements may also become effective at any time. We don’t update our articles whenever new standards/regulations/rules are added or changed. We recommend that you consult a lab testing company or other professional to get the latest information about mandatory standards/regulations in your market, country, or state. Lab testing companies generally stay up to date on new and updated standards and regulations.

    National/State-Level Standards/Regulations: Many articles don't cover all European national and US state standards, regulations, and requirements. We recommend that you consult a testing company or other professional to confirm all relevant (and current) national/state level standards and regulations.
  • 10 Responses to “REACH Product Lab Testing: A Complete Guide

    1. Rhys Tilbury at 11:54 am

      Hello, I work for a cosulting lab in Australia, with a client looking to sell their products in the UK/EU. Do we have to be a REACH certified lab to issue compliancy or can we provide a break down of the materials with regards to SVHCs ?

      Thank You.

    2. S.C. at 2:12 am

      Hi,
      I’ve been working with a supplier via Alibaba in China, on developing a custom *pet* shampoo product. They’ve sent me the samples with their test certifications, all clear. I’ve tried the sample myself (first!) and only then my personal pets. Results are great – even better than most supermarket brands I’d say. No allergic reactions, or noticeable issues.

      But I too am struggling with the “REACH” issue – as I want to sell via Amazon in the UK/ EU, I want to know whether it would be sufficient to have my supplier’s test certs, or do I still need to have a REACH test done via third party lab? Nobody is getting back to me, with lockdown, so I’m just basically waiting.

      Would appreciate a suggestion please – thanks! Great article too.

      1. Fredrik Gronkvist at 10:54 am

        I think this might go beyond REACH and into cosmetic product regulations. That’s outside my area of expertise though.

    3. Fabian at 9:26 pm

      If I am buying products from suppliers which are inside the European Union and I am selling those products through dropshipping also inside the European Union, would I be responsible for a REACH test if it was mandatory or would it be te manufacturer? Because as far as I know in the European Union the manufacturer is liable for the product and not the seller.

      1. Fredrik Gronkvist at 1:14 pm

        Hi Fabien,

        I think you are right

    4. shaily bhargava at 5:58 pm

      Dear Sir/ Mam,

      Can you guide me what are the test applicable on Textile and leather material as per reach. As i am working in lab and very new to REACH Testing.

      1. Fredrik Gronkvist at 7:20 pm

        Hello Shaily,

        If you are working in a product testing lab then you should have someone that stays up to date on new substance restrictions and limits. It’s up to the lab to decide which REACH SVHC tests to apply to a certain product and material.

    5. Find Lab Testing at 12:14 pm

      Your blog is helpful for us. It’s very informative. Thanks!

      1. Deepak Kumar at 2:58 pm

        For REACH testing, feel free to contact:
        TUV NORD
        sdeepak@tuv-nord.com

        1. Fredrik Gronkvist at 1:13 pm

          Hi Deepak,

          Do you have any suggestions for our readers when it comes to REACH compliance testing?

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