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Underestimating the size of your company when registering substances is one of the most common mistakes we see in our work.

Now, ECHA (European Chemicals Agency) has made it very clear that there could be financial consequences should they find out that the stated company size is incorrect. Taking into account ECHA’s administrative charge the minimum penalty amounts to € 19 900. The company will be required to pay the difference to the applicable registration fee along with the already-mentioned administrative charge.

If you are not familiar with the background, then the following quick review might help.  

When it comes to REACH registrations, companies often try to save on administrative fees which have to be paid directly to ECHA. Besides the annual tonnage band, this fee also depends on the size of the company. There are four size categories. The first three, often abbreviated as SME, are Micro, Small and Medium-sized companies. Companies which do not conform to the SME criteria fall in the last category: Large companies.

SME companies are entitled to lower fees but their size has to be determined in accordance with the criteria provided in the Commission Recommendation 2003/361/EC.

Three criteria are used to determine if a company is an SME company:

  • Staff headcount
  • Annual turnover, and
  • Annual balance sheet total.

SME companies in general are those that employ fewer than 250 persons and have either an annual turnover not exceeding EUR 50 million or an annual balance sheet total not exceeding EUR 43 million. (you can read more about the SME subject in the ”User guide to the SME definition” here).

Two more things to note before we add fees to this equation.

While meeting the staff headcount criterion is mandatory to be considered an SME, you have alternatives when it comes to the other two criteria.

A company may choose to meet either the turnover or the balance sheet total ceiling. It does not need to satisfy both requirements and may exceed one of them without impact on its SME status.

Now, since administrative fees can vary substantially depending on whether you are a Micro, Small or Medium-sized company, companies often “feel encouraged” to adjust their enterprise data, so that they would fit in a lower-fee category. Your fee could actually be three times lower if you claimed to be a Micro-sized company than if you claimed to be a Medium-sized company.

This obviously came to ECHA's radar as they announced in early May that they will be actively verifying data concerning the actual size of companies.

I advise you to ensure that you (or your consultants) have uploaded the required supporting documents in REACH-IT proving your enterprise size is correct. This could save you a severe headache, not to mention money or your company’s reputation.

If you need help in getting REACH under control, then drop me a line. We helped numerous companies over the years and I am sure we can help you as well.


Information on this blog is prepared with utmost care, but it is not about (chemical) consulting, and the provider does not assume any responsibility or liability for the correctness, accuracy and up-to-dateness of published content. If you need advice for a specific case, you can write to us at
REACH | May 13, 2021

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