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Classification, packaging and labelling of dangerous substances

Classification, packaging and labelling of dangerous substances and preparations is harmonised in order to protect health and the environment and ensure the free movement of such products. The provisions on classification, packaging and labelling of dangerous substances and preparations have been amended with the entry into force of the new Regulation (EC) No 1272/2008 and the creation of the European Chemicals Agency.


Council Directive 67/548/EEC of 27 June 1967 on the approximation of laws, regulations and administrative provisions relating to the classification, packaging and labelling of dangerous substances [See amending acts].


This is the first harmonising Directive in the field of chemical products. Given the extent of that field, the Commission limited the scope of this first Directive to the harmonisation of the classification, packaging and labelling of dangerous substances.

The Directive does not affect provisions relating to:

  • medicinal products;
  • cosmetic products;
  • mixtures of substances in the form of waste;
  • food;
  • animal feed;
  • pesticides;
  • radioactive substances;
  • other substances or preparations for which notification or approval procedures exist;
  • the carriage of dangerous substances;
  • unrefined substances which are in transit and are subject to customs inspection.


Within the meaning of the Directive, the term "substances" means chemical elements and their compounds as they occur in the natural state or as produced by industry. “Preparation” refers to mixtures or solutions composed of two or more substances.


The classification of dangerous substances is based on categories clearly defined in the Directive according to the greatest degree of hazard and the specific nature of the risks. These categories include explosive substances, inflammable substances, toxic substances, harmful substances, etc.

The Annexes to the Directive contain, among other things, a list of dangerous substances (Annex I), their classification and the provisions for their labelling, the symbols relating to each substance, the standard phrases relating to the nature of the special risks of each substance as well as, if the case arises, any phrases giving advice on safety precautions for the substance.


The packaging of substances must comply with the following provisions:

  • the packaging must prevent any loss of the contents, except where special safety devices are prescribed;
  • the materials constituting the packaging and fastenings must not be liable to attack by the contents or liable to form harmful or dangerous compounds with the contents;
  • packaging and fastenings must be resistant and solid.


The labelling must indicate:

  • the name of the substance;
  • the origin of the substance (name and address of the manufacturer, distributor or importer);
  • danger symbols and indication of danger involved in the use of the substance;
  • a reference to the special risks arising from such dangers.

This information must be presented in accordance with the Annexes to the Directive (symbols, standard phrases, etc.). The same applies to any advice on safety precautions.

The labelling must, in addition, comply with provisions on the size of the labelling. In particular, the dimensions of the label must not be less than those of a standard A8 sheet (52 x 74 mm), and each symbol must cover at least one tenth of the surface area of the label.

Member States may require their national language or languages to be used in the labelling of dangerous substances.

Where the packaging is too small, the labelling may be affixed in some other manner.

Member States may allow dangerous substances which are not toxic or explosive to derogate from the general rules on labelling established in Articles 23 and 24 of this Directive. The labelling of these substances may therefore be optional or differ from the established rules if they are present in such small quantities that there is no danger to users,

In the context of the international and/or national transport of dangerous substances, the labelling must comply with the international and/or national rules. Member States may not hamper the free movement within the European Community of dangerous substances which comply with the Directive, unless they establish that the substance constitutes a hazard to health and/or the environment. In such a case, the Member State must inform the Commission, which must launch a consultation procedure to assess the hazards and take any other necessary action

Member States must inform the Commission of measures taken pursuant to the Directive.


Annex I is removed by Regulation (EC) No 1272/2008 on the classification, packaging and labelling of chemicals and their mixtures and replaced by Table 3.1 of Annex VI to this Regulation from 20 January 2009.

Annex II will be repealed on 1 June 2015.

Annex III will be repealed on 1 June 2015.

Annex IV will be repealed on 1 June 2015.

Annex V is replaced by Regulation (EC) No 440/2008 laying down test methods pursuant to Regulation

(EC) No 1907/2006 of the European Parliament and of the Council on the Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals (REACH) with effect from 1 June 2008.

Annex VI will be repealed on 1 June 2015. However, the provisions on the labelling and packaging of substances in Annex VI will no longer apply with effect from 1 December 2010.

Annex VII A, VII B, VII C, VII D and Annex VIII are deleted by Directive 2006/121/EC with effect from 1 June 2008.

Annex IX will be repealed with effect from 1 June 2015.

This Directive will be repealed in its entirety on 1 June 2015.


ActEntry into force Deadline for transposition in the Member StatesOfficial Journal
Directive 67/548/EEC



1.1.1975 (Ireland)

OJ P 196 of 16.8.1967

Amending act(s)Entry into forceDeadline for transposition in the Member StatesOfficial Journal

Directive 71/144/EEC



OJ L 74 of 29.3.1971

Directive 73/146/EEC



OJ L 167 of 25.6.1973

Directive 75/409/EEC



OJ L 183 of 14.7.1975

Directive 79/831/EEC


 Specific measures for the articles in the market before this date
 deadline for the remaining articles

OJ L 259 of 15.10.1979

Directive 92/32/EEC



OJ L 154 of 5.6.1992

Directive 96/56/EC



OJ L 236 of 18.9.1996

Directive 1999/33/EC



OJ L 199 of 30.7.1999

Regulation (EC) No 807/2003



OJ L 122 of 16.5.2003

Directive 2006/121/EC



OJ L 396 of 30.12.2006

Regulation (EC) 1272/2008



OJ L 353 of 30.12.2008

Last updated: 09.09.2011
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