CLP Regulation Basics

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What is CLP?

CLP is a regulatory framework for the classification and labelling of substances and mixtures in the EU. It is based on an international agreement known as the Globally Harmonised System (GHS). The CLP Regulation progressively replaced the EU's Dangerous Substances and Dangerous Preparations Directives which were repealed on 1 June 2015.

As in the past, the CLP Regulation requires chemicals to be classified for their hazards and their packaging labelled accordingly. Under CLP, labels are very different to those under the previous regulatory framework. CLP has been phased in gradually over a seven-year transitional period, so that the burden on business was reduced. Consequently, labels on the packaging of hazardous substances and mixtures have been changing since 2010.

The CLP Regulation also has some important additional notification requirements which may affect you if you import or manufacture and supply to EU customers.


CLP has broadly the same scope as the old scheme. It deals with the majority of chemicals which are put on the industrial, professional and consumer markets in the EU, including those supplied free of charge and in very small quantities. However, a few chemical product types are exempt – for example, finished cosmetics and medicines.

Changes under CLP

Depending on their role in the supply chain, companies' main obligations under CLP relate to classification, labelling and notification to the C&L Inventory. Classification is the process of identifying and comparing intrinsic properties with agreed criteria; labelling is the communication of that information on packaging.

Classification and labelling under CLP

The CLP Regulation has made major changes to the way substances and mixtures are classified and labelled in the EU. One of the most striking changes is the introduction of three new pictograms:

  • the ‘exclamation mark’, which indicates lower acute toxicity and irritation effects;
  • the ‘silhouette’ (sometimes referred to as the ‘exploding man’), which indicates serious, chronic health effects; and
  • the ‘gas cylinder’ for gases under pressure.

Click on the images below to find out more about what these pictograms mean.

In the pre-CLP regime there were fifteen danger classes; CLP comprises some twenty-nine hazard classes divided into three areas: physical, health and environmental hazards. Unlike previous system, CLP's hazard classes are sub-divided into categories with different criteria for classification.

For the physical hazards, CLP sees a move from five to sixteen hazard classes, introducing new hazard classes such as ‘corrosive to metals’. In doing so, it brings the classification for supply in line with the requirements for the transport of dangerous goods.

For health effects, a chemical previously classified as ‘harmful’ could be classified under CLP according to its acute toxicity, aspiration toxicity, specific target organ toxicity – single exposure (‘STOT SE’), or specific target organ toxicity – repeated exposure (‘STOT RE). In addition, the transition to CLP may cause an apparent increase in hazard for some properties due to the classification criteria for the different CLP categories. In the case of acute oral toxicity, for example, a chemical classified as harmful may instead be classified as toxic under CLP. And some mixtures previously not classified for skin or eye effects may need to carry additional labelling.

Notification to the C&L Inventory

The obligation to notify to the C&L Inventory applies to manufacturers and importers of substances placed on the EU market which are either:

  • subject to registration under REACH, or
  • hazardous and imported on its own, or
  • imported in a mixture in concentrations leading to the classification of that mixture under CLP.

The notification must be submitted within a month of first placing the substance on the EU market.

Companies are also required to maintain their notifications and submit updates where new information leads to a change in classification. Notifiers and REACH registrants are also required to make every effort to come to an agreed classification where more than one has been submitted. Read our briefing note, "Reaching agreement on industry classifications", here.

REACHReady's Gold subscribers can find more detailed advice on how to manage their obligations on the CLP pages of our website. If you aren't a Gold subscriber, contact us to find out more.

Transitional arrangements

CLP entered into force in January 2009 and notification to the C&L Inventory started on 1 December 2010.

In addition since 1 December 2010, the classification, packaging and labelling aspects of the regulation have applied to substances placed on the market. There was a derogation for substances already labelled in accordance with DSD and already placed on the market by that date, which meant re-labelling to CLP was not required until 1 December 2012.

Since 1 June 2015, classification, packaging and labelling in accordance with CLP has also applied to mixtures, meaning that the basic requirements for substances and mixtures are the same. However, there is two-year grace period for mixtures already labelled to DPD and already placed on the market by that date, meaning they do not need to be re-labelled until 1 June 2017.

Dealing with mixtures under CLP

If you import or formulate and supply mixtures you must classify and, where required, label them to CLP before placing them on the market. Are you about to place on the market a new batch of an existing product? Or perhaps you have a new formulation to supply? If so, the first task will be to gather and assess information in order to (re-)classify your mixtures. Once classified to CLP, you may need to (re-)design your labels, with input of course from your marketing department! If you haven't already done so, you may also need to invest in colour printing facilities.

All of these tasks require time and a budget. If you have the expertise and resources to do the work in-house you can find out more about how to re-classify and label at our next CLP workshop. Our Gold subscribers can also read our CLP guidance on the password-protected part of the REACHReady website to help them get started.

Alternatively, you may decide to outsource the work - why not let us to put you in touch with some suitable Approved Service Providers though our Matchmaker service?


If you need to understand how the CLP Regulation affects your products and what you must do to comply, come along to one of our training days. We regularly run workshops which will provide an introduction to both REACH and CLP – check out the training section of the website to find out more. Alternatively we can deliver bespoke training tailored to deliver just what you and your colleagues need to know about REACH and CLP in your own workplace.

REACHReady's Gold subscribers also get swift advice through our Helpdesk and support through additional information on the password-protected section of our website. Why not contact us for more information?

Join us by becoming a member of REACHReady sign up now. Call us on +44 (0) 20 7901 1444 for more information. Then you’ll be ready for anything.

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