RoHS in the United Arab Emirates: Understanding Global Restriction of Hazardous Substances in Electronics

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What Is UAE RoHS?

RoHS stands for Restriction of Hazardous Substances and restricts the use of several hazardous materials in electronic and electrical equipment. The RoHS directive was originally issued in the European Union but similar laws have been passed in other countries, including UAE.

UAE RoHS works to reduce the negative environmental and health effects of hazardous substances by restricting their use in electronics. All electronic and electrical equipment (EEE) imported or sold in the UAE must comply with UAE RoHS.

uae flag - rohs in the uae

The UAE’s regulation was originally proposed in 2015 and went into effect in April 2017. The regulation was modeled after the EU’s RoHS directive, so there is much overlap.

It is important to note that UAE RoHS regulation is still undergoing updates and fixing problems in the legislation. While UAE RoHS was mainly derived from EU RoHS, even after it went into effect, the UAE legislation still included inconsistencies and unclear areas of text. 

UAE RoHS is being implemented in three parts, all aiming to bring the regulation in line with EU RoHS. The third and final part of UAE RoHS will be implemented in January 2022. This article aims to provide correct, up to date information.

Which Hazardous Substances Are Restricted by UAE RoHS?

UAE RoHS restricts ten hazardous materials that may only be used in electronics below a certain threshold. The materials are the same as those restricted by the EU’s RoHS directive.

The allowable amount for each substance except cadmium is 1000 ppm. The allowable amount for cadmium is 100 ppm. The materials include:

Products Restricted by UAE RoHS

It is important that manufacturers determine whether their product fits the definition of EEE, because all EEE is subject to UAE RoHS compliance requirements. UAE RoHS defines EEE as “equipment which is dependent on electric currents or electromagnetic fields in order to work properly and equipment for the generation, transfer and measurement of such currents and fields.”

EEE regulated under UAE RoHS includes a wide variety of products separated into eleven categories, ranging from large household appliances to medical devices. The eleventh category is all-encompassing, as it includes any EEE not covered in the previous ten categories. 

These categories directly mirror categories listed in the EU’s RoHS 3 directive. Categories include:

computer and phone - united arab emirates rohs
  1. Large household appliances (eg. refrigerators)
  2. Small household appliances (eg. hairdryers)
  3. IT and telecommunication equipment (eg. computers)
  4. Consumer equipment (eg. televisions)
  5. Lighting equipment (eg. light bulbs)
  6. Electrical and electronic tools (except for large-scale stationary industrial tools) (eg. drills)
  7. Toys, leisure and sports equipment (eg. video games)
  8. Medical devices (except for active implanted devices) (eg. In-vitro diagnostic medical devices like cameras) 
  9. Monitoring and control instruments (eg. smoke detectors)
  10. Automatic dispensers (eg. vending machines)
  11. Other EEE not covered by any of the categories above that falls within the definition of EEE described above
  12. [Beginning in January 2022, restricted products include cables and spare parts].

Exemptions

UAE RoHS also includes several product category exemptions, which also are derived from the EU’s RoHS directive. Exemptions include:

  • Equipment necessary for security, including arms, munitions and material intended for military purposes
  • Equipment designed to be sent into space
  • Large -scale stationary industrial tools
  • Large-scale fixed installations
  • Means of transport for people or goods
  • Non-road mobile machinery exclusively for professional use
  • Active implantable medical devices
  • Permanently installed photovoltaic panels to produce solar energy
  • Equipment designed for business-business research
  • Equipment that is designed to be installed in another type of equipment that is excluded under RoHS.

Compliance with UAE RoHS

Who is Responsible for Compliance?

All suppliers must be compliant with UAE RoHS. The law defines suppliers asthe manufacturer, importer, agent or collector of the product or any main distributor or sub-distributor whose activity has an effect on the product’s properties, or any commercial or legal representative liable for the import, installation and operating of the product covered by this [Cabinet Decision No 10 of 2017] and exercising [their] activity through a company or sole proprietorship licence in the state.” 

The main regulatory body in charge of enforcing UAE RoHS is the Emirates Authority for Standardisation and Metrology (ESMA), which is now included under the Ministry of Industry and Advanced Technology (MOIAT). ESMA plays a large role in the compliance process. For more information, visit their website.

It is the supplier’s responsibility to ensure their product complies with UAE RoHS, as suppliers or a representative of the supplier must submit applications for approval to ESMA. 

Because UAE RoHS regulation is still in the process of being updated and fully developed, it can be very confusing to navigate. Many suppliers choose to contract a third party business to help them gather the necessary information to submit an application.

Steps for Compliance with UAE RoHS

To achieve compliance, suppliers must submit documentation to ESMA’s online portal. This documentation must demonstrate compliance and must include information about the product’s design, testing, inspections, or other information requested by ESMA.

  1. Companies that do not have a full product assessment should submit a declaration of conformity (a legal document declaring the manufacturer has taken steps to comply with UAE RoHS) to ESMA’s website, in addition to a full RoHS test report of the complete product. If a test report of the complete product is not available, the supplier may submit test reports of at least 3 critical components of the product.

ESMA will verify the documentation and issue a certificate of compliance (CoC), valid for one year.

Read more: What Is a Declaration of Conformity?

  1. The Emirates Quality Mark scheme applies to companies that already have risk assessment documentation that proves compliance with UAE RoHS. Suppliers can complete a declaration of conformity and submit it online to ESMA.The supplier will also submit risk assessment documents. 

ESMA will perform a technical audit, inspection, and evaluation of the manufacturing site. Following ESMA’s approval, an Emirates Quality Mark label can be placed on the product. 

The EQM approval is valid for three years. 

Suppliers must pay the required fees to submit a request for approval through the portal (around 4,3000 AED or about $1,150). Only one product category can be included in a single application, so multiple types of products require multiple applications.

Suppliers can track the progress of their application through the online portal. The portal will also notify suppliers before their certification expires.

Penalties for Noncompliance with UAE RoHS

Penalties for noncompliance with UAE RoHS include:

  • Products that are noncompliant will not be allowed to enter the country, which causes monetary losses for the supplier.
  • Suppliers must recall noncompliant products from the market, facing monetary losses.
  • According to Federal Law No. 28 of 2001, which established ESMA, noncompliant suppliers may face imprisonment and fines of up to 30,000 AED.

Why is RoHS Important?

RoHS’s importance can be summarized into three main areas of impact: the market, the environment, and consumer health. While UAE RoHS creates increased costs for sellers and buyers of electronics, the law also protects the natural environment and human health.

1) The Market

RoHS raises costs for sellers and buyers of electronic products alike. 

Manufacturers must use less hazardous and often more expensive methods to produce RoHS-compliant products. Additionally, the application process through ESMA introduces more fees. This is equally true for manufacturers in the UAE or who are importing their products into the UAE.

Buyers also experience increased prices of electronics in their day to day lives as a result of UAE RoHS.

Of course, these increased prices come hand in hand with safer, more environmentally friendly devices.

2) The Environment

The restricted materials listed in UAE RoHS act as environmental pollutants that often end up in landfills. By limiting the amount of these hazardous substances that may be used, RoHS protects the environment and increases the amount of electronics that can be recycled safely.

3) Consumer Health

RoHS works to protect consumers of EEE and broader communities from the harmful health effects of hazardous materials. RoHS aims to minimize health impacts caused by EEE in every stage of a product’s lifecycle, from production to use to disposal.

Several materials restricted by RoHS create toxic waste and occupational hazards that negatively impact human health. Restricted substances not only harm workers in production and recycling phases, but also can create health concerns for users of end products.

Comparison Table: How Does UAE RoHS Differ from EU RoHS?

UAEEuropean Union
Restricted SubstancesCadmium (Cd)
Mercury (Hg)
Lead (Pb)
Hexavalent Chromium (Cr VI)
Polybrominated Biphenyls (PBB)
Polybrominated Diphenyl Ethers (PBDE)
Bis(2-Ethylhexyl) phthalate (DEHP)
Benzyl butyl phthalate (BBP)
Dibutyl phthalate (DBP)
Diisobutyl phthalate (DIBP)
The same as those restricted in the UAE.
Scope: Restricted ProductsAnything that falls under the definition of electrical and electronic equipment (EEE)Anything that falls under the definition of electrical and electronic equipment (EEE)
LabelingAn Emirates Quality Mark (EQM) label may be placed on a product following the supplier’s submission of a declaration of conformity and complete product risk assessments, and an on-site inspection performed by ESMA. See above for details.A CE marking is required on all RoHS-compliant products.

Read more: What is the CE Marking?
ExemptionsExemptions exist for several types of products, such as active implantable medical devices.Exemptions exist for several types of products, such as active implantable medical devices. A full list is available in Article 2 of RoHS 2 (Directive 2011/65/EU).
Conformity: Proving ComplianceEmirates Authority for Standardisation and Metrology (ESMA) must approve a supplier’s submissions of a Declaration of Conformity and relevant product information. A certificate of compliance may be issued upon approval.Compliance with EU RoHS can be self-declared through a Declaration of Conformity.

Read more: Compliance Statements

Read more about RoHS in the EU: What is RoHS?

Rules similar to RoHS have spread to many other regions, including India, China, South Korea, Vietnam, Japan, and the United States, including California and New Jersey. It is important for electronic companies to remain aware of shifting hazardous substance legislation in markets around the world.

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