RoHS Exemptions - Background, Directive Annexe III and IV


RoHS2 restricts the use of certain hazardous substances in electrical and electronic equipment (EEE). The Directive is regularly updated according to scientific and technical progress, reflected in the lists of very specific exemptions from the substance restrictions in Annexes III and IV to RoHS 2. The rules for applications and for granting exemptions under RoHS 2 are clear-cut. Whereas Annex IV is exclusively for the EEE categories “medical devices” and “monitoring and control instruments”, Annex III is open for all categories.

The use of hazardous substances and any adaptation of the above mentioned Annexes need to follow specific requirements. In particular:

  • Articles 4(1) and 4(2) provide that Member States shall ensure that EEE (as referred to in Articles 2(1) and 3(1)) placed on the market, including cables and spare parts for its repair, its reuse, updating of its functionalities or upgrading of its capacity, does not contain the substances listed in Annex II. The maximum concentration value by weight in homogeneous materials as specified in Annex II shall be tolerated.
  • Annexes III and IV to RoHS2 currently list a limited number of specific applications of lead, mercury, cadmium and hexavalent chromium, which are exempted from the restriction in Article 4(1).
  • Adaptation to scientific and technical progress is provided for under Article 5 of RoHS 2. Pursuant to Article 5(1) of RoHS2, the inclusion in, under certain conditions, or deletion from Annexes III or IV of materials and components of EEE shall be adopted by the Commission by means of individual delegated acts (cf. Articles 20-22 of RoHS2).
  • Article 5(1) (a) provides for the exemption of materials and components from the RoHS substance restrictions if this does not weaken the environmental and health protection afforded by REACH Regulation (EC) No 1907/2006 and where any of the following conditions is fulfilled:

    1. their elimination or substitution via design changes or materials and components which do not require any of the materials or substances referred to listed in Annex II is scientifically or technically impracticable;
    2. the reliability of substitutes is not ensured;
    3. the total negative environmental, health and consumer safety impacts caused by substitution are likely to outweigh the total environmental, health and consumer safety benefits thereof.
  • The decision on inclusion of materials and components of EEE in Annexes III or IV on exemptions and the duration of possible exemptions shall take into account the availability of substitutes and the socio-economic impact of substitution. Decisions on the duration of possible exemptions shall take into account any potential adverse impacts on innovation. Life-cycle thinking on the overall impacts of the exemption shall apply, where relevant.
  • Pursuant to Article 5(2), all exemptions have expiry dates and can only be renewed after an application for renewal. For applications for renewal of exemptions the same criteria apply as for applications for new exemptions.
  • On the basis of these provisions, the Commission is receiving requests for (granting, renewing, but possibly also for deleting) exemptions that need to be evaluated in order to assess whether they fulfil the requirements of Article 5(1). Where the requirements of Article 5(1) are fulfilled, the Commission shall under the set procedure adopt a measure amending the Annexes to the RoHS Directive.

Links to the relevant legislation and useful Guidance Documents


Guidance documents: