It is a question I often receive from manufacturers of electrical or electronic equipment. Can I request RoHS3 exemptions for my device?
Your product may be entirely out of the RoHS scope. How do you find out?
As a manufacturer, you must refer to the RoHS regulation itself. For example, article 2 of the European Union (EU) Directive 2011/65/EU lists various exclusions from RoHS, such as:
If your product is out of scope, then RoHS does not apply at all, and you don’t have to look after exemptions. However, if your product falls under the RoHS scope, at least partially, then exemptions may apply to specific applications within your device.
RoHS restricts the concentration of various hazardous substances contained in electrical and electronic equipment:
However, some materials and applications may need these substances above the general threshold for technical reasons. It is the case for example of lead compounds in some brass alloys, glasses, or fuses.
Enviropass maintains the current list of EU RoHS3 exemptions. In total, there are 40ish general EU RoHS exemptions. Another list of exemptions applies to monitoring and control instruments and medical devices.
Exemptions are authorized under certain conditions when it is impossible to avoid the use of RoHS substances for scientific and technical reasons. However, as science progresses, the intent is to get rid of these exemptions.
As a result, exemptions are revised by default every five years, per article 5 of Directive 2011/65/EU. Nevertheless, they can be modified at any time by the European Commission. Exemptions are either prolonged, modified, split, or set to expire. This is why it is crucial, as a manufacturer, to monitor the current exemptions and make sure your products still benefit from valid ones.
Let’s say your product is RoHS compliant except for one part. Can you request a specific exemption for that part?
The quick answer is yes. However, you need to demonstrate that an EU RoHS exemption is inevitable to make the product available on the market.
In the European Union, the applicant must submit a comprehensive dossier to the European Commission. Such dossier includes:
The whole evaluation process typically takes 18 to 24 months. Be ready to answer questions from the European Commission!
Since the Brexit, the UK has its exemption validation process, separately from the EU.
As a result, if you plan on selling your products in the EU and the UK, you must request exemptions from both jurisdictions. One may accept your application and not the other.
Exemption request is a tedious and cumbersome process. The outcome is not guaranteed as the European Commission can refuse the grant the exemption. Most of the time, it is possible to find alternatives and not request a specific exemption.
As a result, before requesting a RoHS exemption, Enviropass recommends that you verify whether any other option is available. If there is no other choice, then you will have to submit a robust dossier.