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Precursor Chemical Licence or Registration

With the exception of category 4 drug precursor chemicals, the legislation generally excludes medicinal products for human use, but covers all natural products and preparations (or mixtures) containing at least one scheduled substance, provided that they can be extracted by ‘readily applicable or economically viable means’.

Category 1

The following chemicals require a licence for use as well as for importing into the UK and exporting from UK:

  • 1-phenyl-2-propanone (BMK)
  • 3-4 Methylenedioxy-Phenylpropan-2-one (PMK)
  • Alpha-phenylacetoacetonitrile (APAAN)
  • Chloroephedrine
  • Chloropseudoephedrine
  • Ephedrine
  • Ergometrine
  • Ergotamine
  • Isosafrole
  • Lysergic Acid
  • N-acetylanthranilic Acid
  • Norephedrine
  • Piperonal
  • Pseudoephedrine
  • Safrole
  • 4-anilino-N-phenethylpiperidine (ANPP)
  • N-phenethyl-4-piperidone (NPP)
  • 3-(1,3-benzodioxol-5-yl)-2- methyloxirane-2-carboxylate (PMK methyl glycidate)
  • 3-(1,3-benzodioxol-5-yl)-2-methyloxirane-2-carboxylic acid (PMK glycidic acid)
  • Alpha-phenylacetoacetamide (APAA)
  • Methyl alpha-phenylacetoacetate (MAPA)
  • Methyl 2-methyl-3-phenyloxirane-2-carboxylate (BMK methyl glycidate)
  • 2ÔÇÉmethyl-3-phenyloxirane-2- carboxylic acid (BMK glycidic acid)


  • The stereoisomeric forms of the substances listed in this category excluding (+)-norpseudoephedrine (also referred to as cathine), whenever the existence of such forms is possible.
  • The salts of the substances listed in this category, whenever the existence of such salts is possible and excluding the salts of (+)-norpseudoephedrine (also referred to as cathine).

Category 2A

The Following chemicals and salts of these substances (whenever the existence of such salts is possible) may require registration if the amounts are over the thresholds indicated below per building/premise (not per academic research group):

Please note, academic research groups are expected to report the amounts of these chemicals within their laboratories to Health and Safety Services as part of their annual Regulatory Winter Returns so the amount of these chemicals per building/premise can be calculated.

  • Acetic Anhydride requires registration for use inside the UK and supply of more than 100 litres per calendar year.
  • Red Phosphorous requires registration for use inside the UK and supply of more than 0.1 kg per calendar year.

Additionally, both chemicals in category 2A require registration when exporting.

Category 2B

The following chemicals only require registration when exporting outside the UK:

  • Phenylacetic acid
  • Potassium Permanganate
  • Anthranilic acid
  • Piperidine

Category 3

The following chemicals onlyrequire registration for when exporting outside the UK above the stated amounts:

  • Acetone (> 50 kg per annum)
  • Ethyl Ether (> 20 kg per annum)
  • Hydrochloric Acid (> 100 kg per annum)
  • Methyl Ethyl Ketone (MEK) (> 50 kg per annum)
  • Sulphuric Acid (> 100 kg per annum)
  • Toluene (> 50 kg per annum)

Category 4

The following chemicals require licencing for exportation only:

  • Ephedrine
  • Pseudoephedrine

Please note: Category 4 covers medicinal preparations of some of the category 1 substances.

If you need a licence or registration or have an import or export query, please contact the University Regulatory Compliance Team for help with the application.


What legislation applies?

Articles 3(2), 3(6) & 6 of EU Regulation 273/2004 and Articles 6(1), 7(1) and 17 of EC Regulations 111/2005, as amended by the Law Enforcement and Security (LENS) Regulations 2019 (GB premises only).


Further Information

Precursor Chemical Licensing. 

Precursor chemical import and export authorisation.

It is the responsibility of anyone who plans on disposing precursor chemicals to do so in accordance with the applicable legislation. You cannot use the standard waste contractor to dispose of these chemicals. The contractor collecting them must hold a special licence to receive them.  Contact the  University Regulatory Compliance Team for advice before the disposal of such material.

 Last reviewed: November 2023; Next review: November 2024