18 January, 2019

The best advice you can hear about K-REACH

By Matthieu Duchemin

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In 2015, South Korea introduced legislation designed to protect human health and the environment from the impact of chemicals. With an estimated 44,000 chemicals in use in South Korea and about 300 new chemicals marketed annually, registrants and regulators will be kept busy assessing the risk posed to humans, animals and the environment. This legislation has now been revised to impose stricter controls on a broader range of substances, effective January 1, 2019.

Essential tips on preparing your substance registration under K-REACHIndustrial chemical factory pipes at sunset K-REACH

Chemical regulations are often complex and difficult to get to grips with and proving a product to be compliant to new regulations is getting more challenging. Use these 11 insightful tips on preparing your substance registration under the changing regulations of K-REACH.

For further information on K-REACH read our whitepaper 'How to prepare for K-REACH legislation'.

K-REACH legislative development and goals 

K-REACH is the Korean version of the EU regulation for the Registration, Evaluation, Authorization and Restriction of Chemicals (REACH).
K-REACH and REACH share the main goal of cataloguing information on the hazard of chemicals to support improved risk management in their use.

Tip 1: Start as early as possible

With an estimated 44,000 chemicals in use in South Korea and about 300 new chemicals marketed annually, registrants and regulators will be kept busy!

Tip 2: Check regulatory requirements

Ensure you check the latest regulatory requirements relevant to your substance, identifying which legislation is relevant and your obligations under each of these.

The two pieces of legislation introduced were the:

  • Act on the Registration and Evaluation of Chemicals (K-REACH), which mandates the registration of all new and existing chemicals marketed or imported into South Korea at ≥1 tonne per year, requiring detailed information on their likely hazard to human health and the environment
  • Chemicals Control Act (CCA), which focuses on chemical reporting and chemical accident prevention

Scope of K-REACH

As with REACH, K-REACH is confined to certain substances, because other substances are regulated through different legislation. Unlike REACH, where annual tonnage is calculated as a three-year rolling average and regular monitoring and updates are required, K-REACH annual tonnage is based on the maximum manufactured or imported volume in any given year from 2016 to 2018.

Tip 3: Check if your substance is in scope

Check if your substance is in scope and if it is on the Korean Existing Chemicals List (KECL); if not, your substance will be considered ‘new’.

K-REACH is a multi-stage process

Like REACH, K-REACH is a multistage process with different deadline and information requirements dictated by the amount of the substance imported or manufactured. Under K-REACH, foreign manufacturers without registered offices in South Korea need to appoint a South Korea-based only representative (OR) to submit pre-notification and registrations.

Tip 4: Establish the pre-notification and registration requirements for your substance

Once pre-notification is made, the importer/manufacturer has a ‘grace period’ in which to compile their K-REACH submission. The grace period is determined by tonnage band.

Tip 5: Find and contract an OR, if you need one

Under K-REACH, foreign manufacturers without registered offices in South Korea need to appoint a South Korea-based only representative (OR) to submit pre-notification and registrations.

Tip 6: Calculate the maximum tonnage

Calculate the maximum tonnage carefully to identify the information needs for that tonnage band.

Designated or priority existing chemicals

K-REACH has similar information requirements to REACH, although the use of read-across and quantitative structure–activity relationship (QSAR) models for waiving some animal studies is not as widely accepted under K-REACH.

Tip 7: Identify all uses for your substance

Identify all uses for your substance, as this will drive the exposure scenarios and risk assessment. You may need to consult downstream users.

Tip 8: Conduct a gap analysis

Conduct a data gap analysis to identify information you need to source, or the testing plans you need to carry out.

Planning your registration

Like REACH, K-REACH requires a single dossier to be submitted for each substance. This means that, as in Europe, companies producing chemicals containing the same substance must work together in a structure called a Chemical substance Information Communicative Organization (CICO), which is similar to the EU Substance Information Exchange Forums (SIEFs). The CICO provides a framework, which enables the effective sharing of data and costs.

Tip 9: Characterize your substance in detail

Like REACH, K-REACH requires a single dossier to be submitted for each substance.

Tip 10: Find other registrants through the K-REACH IT system

Find other registrants through the K-REACH IT system and consider how best to engage with them in the CICO. You may need to consider how important your substance is to you commercially and if other registrants will prioritize the substance in the same way. This can influence decisions regarding who should act as lead registrant.

Tip 11: Contract data access carefully

Contract data access carefully, checking data quality (if possible) and ensuring you understand usage limitations.

Key take-away messages

K-REACH is closely aligned with REACH regulation, with similar processes and evaluations although K-REACH relies more heavily on animal data. The pre-notification period for existing substances imported or manufactured at ≥1 tonne/year runs between January 1, and June 30, 2019. After this, submissions deadlines vary by tonnage band. Joint submissions are the norm, with registrants working together in CICOs – the equivalent to SIEFS in REACH.

It is likely that a number of substances requiring K-REACH registration will have already been registered in the EU through REACH. REACH dossiers can, therefore, be a data source, although a substantial amount of rework may be required to align any K-REACH submission with the obligations in the Korean regulation.

K-REACH milestones in the legislation

  • Pre-notification for existing substances manufactured or imported at ≥1 tonne/year is required by June 30, 2019
  • There are three tonnage bands for existing substances, which have different deadlines for registration
  • Data requirements for registration increase with increasing tonnage
  • The registration deadline of 510 priority existing chemicals was July 1, 2018
  • Joint submission is mandated in most cases, with registrants working together as part of a CICO with a lead registrant
  • Manufacturers or importers based outside Korea must appoint an OR to submit and manage substance registration

For further information on K-REACH read our white paperHow to prepare for K-REACH legislation

How to prepare for K-REACH legislation

About the author

Dr Matthieu Duchemin

As Head of the Consultant’s group, one of Matthieu’s main responsibilities is to nurture and develop Envigo’s regulatory and scientific expertise and knowledge base to support customers’ research and development needs.


  • Regulatory affairs and consultancy in crop protection, biocides and chemicals
  • Ecotoxicology and Environmental sciences
  • Modeling and chemical analysis
  • Environmental risk assessments for pharmaceuticals
  • Expert in marine and maritime environment

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Category // Chemical, regulations, K-REACH, Matthieu Duchemin