SAWS Order 55 – The Measures for the Administration of Operating License for Hazardous Chemicals

Updated in June 2014

21 May 2012, the final version of the Measures for the Administration of Operating License for hazardous chemicals was published by the State Administration of Work Safety (SAWS) via its order 55. The SAWS Order 55 has set out the detailed requirements and procedures for operating license according to the Regulation on Safe Management of Hazardous Chemicals (Decree 591). The order replaced the old one issued in 2002 and came into force on 1 Sept 2012.
The key principle of the measures is companies who are involved in retail, wholesale or storage of chemicals in the Catalog of Hazardous Chemicals in China shall obtain a license from the county/city level of SAWS prior to engaging in those business activities in China. The license is valid for 3 years and has to be renewed 3 months prior to its expiry date. Only domestic companies can apply for a license. If you are a foreign company exporting hazardous chemicals in China, you do not need a license. 
In 2013, several large companies were penalized by regional Administration of Work Safety (SAWS) because they sold fuel additives which are listed in the Catalog of Hazardous Chemicals without obtaining operating licenses from the authority.



16 July 2014, CIRS is going to hold a free webinar about hazardous chemicals operating license in China. More info please click here.

The Scope of Hazardous Chemicals Subject to Operating License

Hazardous chemicals which are listed in the Catalog of Hazardous Chemicals are subject to SAWS Order 55. Not all the hazardous chemicals are listed. The current Catalog of Hazardous Chemicals (2002) is the official reference to determine whether the chemical is listed. The current catalog consist of three parts, the List of dangerous goods (GB12268-2005), Catalog of highly toxic chemicals(~150 chemicals) and other chemicals announced by authorities. A revised draft version of Catalog of Hazardous Chemicals was released on 27 Sept 2013 by the State SAWS. The revised draft version includes more hazardous chemicals compared with the older version. The alteration of the official catalog will lead to larger amount of hazardous chemicals that subject to Order 55 in the future. More information about the catalog can be found here.

Online Search Tool!

You can search if your substance is listed in the Catalog of Hazardous Chemicals by using CIRS's free Chinese Chemical Inventory Search System (CCISS) now.

Documents Required for Applying for an Operating License

According to SAWS Order 55, hazardous chemicals operating licenses are issued and supervised by local/regional SAWS. The local/regional regulations specify the document requirements for operating licenses according to local regulations. In addition, the documents required for an operating license are also depended on the types of hazardous chemicals and the business activities that the companies undertake in the administrative areas in China. For example, applying an operating license for highly toxic chemicals will pass stricter evaluation processes, and more documents are required than the general hazards. Besides, legal requirements for retailers are different from wholesalers owning warehouses in China.
According to SAWS Order 55, companies who sell hazardous chemicals in the Catalog of Hazardous Chemicals without a warehouse are required to submit the following documents to apply operating license:  

  • Official application form;
  • Constitution and rules within the company for safe work and safe operations at workplace;
  • Safe work certificates of safety administrator, operating workers and leading officer of the company (official training is organized by SAWS education partners)
  • Property rights certification of business operation sites;
  • Valid business license issued by the Industrial and Commercial Administrative Department in China
  • Emergency plan for accidents

If your company owns or rents a warehouse in China, you need to submit the following documents in addition to those documents above:

  • Property rights certification of the warehouse or a copy contract for renting a warehouse;
  • Safety Assessment Reports of the warehouse;
  • A copy of operating license for storage (rented warehouse)

How to comply

  1. Determine whether your products are listed in the Catalog of Hazardous Chemicals; [Note: We can provide checking service at a small fee. Please contact us if you need the service.]
  2. Check if you are involved in retail, wholesale or storage of hazardous chemicals in China
  3. Applying the required operating license for your products


Fig 1 Procedure of Applying Operating Licenses for Hazardous Chemicals


Term of Use of Hazardous Chemical Operating Licenses

An operating license is valid for 3 years. Companies have to notify the local SAWS in advance if they make changes in contents like companies’ names, official head. If Companies want to make changes to their operating activities or products. they need to reapply an operating license. Companies can apply for one operating license which includes different chemical products. The license will clearly show following information: company name, company address, name of official head in China, permitted operating chemicals and business activities, validity status, date of issue and expiry, code of the license and issuing authority (Fig 2 ).

Fig 2 An Example of Hazardous Chemicals Operating License in China



CIRS services

We can either provide full-package consultancy service for applying an Operating License for Hazardous Chemicals or half-package service

  • Full Package Service:

    Evaluate products, Collect data and check the Catalog of Hazardous Chemicals, consult on procedure, assist companies to get people trained and certificated from authority, paperwork preparation for applying an operating license.

  • Half Package Service: Evaluate products, consult on procedure, paperwork preparation for applying an operating license.


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About Us

Initially set up by China Inspection and Quarantine(CIQ) Bureau in 2007 to provide REACH compliance services to Chinese chemical industry, CIRS has grown to be a leading provider of comprehensive chemical compliance services for companies doing businesses in/with China.

Contact Us

If you have any questions regarding this new regulation, please consult:

  • 11F Building 1, Dongguan Hi-Tech Park, 288 Qiuyi Road, Binjiang District, Hangzhou 310052, China
    Tel: +86-571 8720 6555 | Fax: +86-571 8720 6533

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