EU Regulation of Drug precursors

BiochemThough this is not strictly a safety issue, the Safety Department receives periodic enquiries in relation to ordering substances that are designated as drug precursors.


Despite not actively trading in chemicals, higher education establishments are bound by the rquirements of EC Regulation No: 273/2004 concerning the control of drug precursors. The purpose of the Regulation is to prevent leakage of scheduled substances to illicit drug manufacture whilst minimising the impact on licit activities such as research.

Drug precursors are divided into a number of categories and those categories determine the requirements for compliance. Follow this link for the Home Office list of drug precursors

Category 1 Drug Precursors

Responsible Person

A responsible person must be appointed by the department / research group to 'regulate' the use of these chemicals - that is, to demonstrate vigilance and take reasonable measures to determine that the chemicals are being used for intended legitimate purposes and to report any suspicions. There is also a requirement to submit an annual return for all Category 1 precursors plus acetic anhydride if the 100 litres per calendar year threshold is exceeded.

License / Registration

For purchase or possession of Category 1 precursors, the department or research group will require a license issued by the Home Office. Further information and an application form may be found at the relevant Home Office link.

Customer Declaration of Specific Use

The 'customer' i.e. the department or individual ordering the chemical must complete a Declaration of Specific Use form before the substance can be supplied. This requires the license number to be quoted and details of the intended use e.g. research purposes. The form is normally provided by the supplier and must be returned to the supplier on completion. A copy of the form must be kept for a minimum of three years from the end of the calendar year in which the transaction took place.

Category 2 Drug Precursors

Responsible Person

See above.

License / Registration

A license is not reguired for Category 2 precursors. Domestic registration is not required providing end users do not Annex II of EC Regulation No:273/2004subsequently provide the substances to other entities. The only exception is acetic anhydride, where registration is required if more than 100 litres per calendar year is acquired.

Customer Declaration of Specific Use

The form must be completed as for Category 1 precursors bu the license information can be omitted e.g. enter 'N/A' in the relevant section.

Category 3 Drug Precursors

This category only concerns export of these chemicals and, as such, is unlikely to present an issue for the College.

First issued: February 2008