About Reference Standards

British Pharmacopoeia chemical reference substances (BPCRS) are primary standards. We establish these using absolute methods and the declared content figures are determined without comparing to another substance.

You should use BPCRS to perform the tests in the British Pharmacopoeia (BP) or BP (Veterinary). Do not eat BPCRS or feed them to animals – you should only use BPCRS for chemical analysis.  They are not suitable for any other use.

Purchasing BPCRS

BPCRS are supplied in unit packs containing enough material to carry out the test procedures. BPCRS are tested in our laboratory to make sure they are suitable for their use.

Please note that all orders (including those for Controlled Drugs) are to be placed through the BP Website. Your Order will be processed as soon as it is received, and an invoice and tracking number will be sent to you on the following day.

View the catalogue and buy a BPCRS 

Prices and payment

Please note that all prices of BP Reference Standards can be obtained from the BP Website. 

  • Quantitative BPCRS (that have a declared content) cost £117.
  • Qualitative BPCRS (without a declared content) cost £102.

Handling and courier costs apply to each order:

  • for orders within the United Kingdom - £15
  • for orders to Europe, USA and Canada - £50
  • for orders to anywhere else - £75
  • for some items, such as controlled drugs or dangerous goods, additional charges and requirements apply

Once your purchase has been validated you will receive an invoice to allow you to make payment for the outstanding amount. All invoices must be settled upon receipt of invoice.

Please ensure the payment reference ‘BPxxxx SINVxxxxxx (your account number and invoice no)’ is included with your payment instructions, and a copy of your proof of payment (with the invoice number(s) clearly stated) is emailed to sales.invoices@mhra.gov.uk and copy (cc) in bpcrs@mhra.gov.uk

How to pay online using credit or debit card

Access secure online payments service - GOV.UK Pay.

You can pay online for a range of our services 24 hours a day, 7 days a week using your credit or debit card. We accept debit cards (DC) - Maestro; Delta; Visa Electron and credit cards (CC) – Mastercard, Visa and American Express.

Please ensure you quote the relevant reference number when making a payment.

For alternative payment options please see MHRA payments page.

Order quantities and shipping

We ship BPCRS in vials or ampoules containing enough material to perform the tests.

View information about the vial components.

View information about the vial labels.

You should only order the amounts you need. BPCRS are of the correct quality when dispatched but there is a risk they can degrade over time.

Do not store BPCRS for long periods after opening.

If a BPCRS needs to be stored in a freezer (-20°C), we ship these only on certain days and under cold packs. This is to protect the materials and avoid delays. You must store these at the correct conditions when you receive them. We ship all other items at ambient temperature.

You are responsible for clearing all orders through local customs, this includes the payment of customs duties and taxes. If an order is not cleared and the order is returned to us, you will be liable for the cost of the order. As we cannot guarantee the stability of the standards they will be disposed of upon return. Should you still wish to obtain the standards, a new order will have to be placed.


Leaflets which you can download from the catalogue contain all pertinent information regarding analytical data, storage conditions and advice on safe-handling where necessary.

Declared content figures and/or reference chromatograms are supplied where required. The BPC does not supply certificates of analysis.

Requirements for controlled drugs and precursor chemicals

Controlled drugs (narcotics) and drug precursors (category 1 substances) are subject to import and export restrictions. You must obtain the correct documents to comply with the laws of the importing country.

For all applications, the name and address of the exporter must be:

British Pharmacopoeia Commission Laboratory
Queens Road
TW11 0LY
United Kingdom.

Schedule 1 to 5 Controlled Drugs (narcotics):

  • if you are a UK customer, you must provide a copy of your Home Office licence to possess and supply
  • if you are a non-UK customer, you must provide a valid import licence, showing the name and address of the Exporter, the name and address of the Importer and the quantity of the controlled substance(s) required. We will then obtain the relevant export licence(s) before shipping

Category 1 substances (precursor chemicals):

Storage and expiry

We supply all BPCRS in sealed containers.  Long term storage instructions are available on the safety data sheet from the website catalogue.

You should keep the BPCRS in the original, unopened pack. You should keep BPCRS under the storage conditions described. 

We monitor all BPCRS for stability and we show the valid batch (lot) on our website.

As long as the batch (lot) number on the vial is shown as the current batch (lot) on the website, it is valid and suitable for use, provided it is unopened and stored according to the instructions given.

If the batch (lot) number on the vial is different from the current batch (lot) on the website, then you should apply an expiry date of 12 months from the date of dispatch provided it is unopened and stored according to the instructions given. To obtain the appropriate leaflet for the previous batch you would need to contact the BP Secretariat directly BPCRS@mhra.gov.uk

Once we ship the vials, we no longer have control and therefore we can only give a limited guarantee of the BPCRS for a short time. After this, you must store the BPCRS correctly.

We can offer no guarantee or warranties regarding the use of previously opened BPCRS.  You must make any decision about using a previously opened BPCRS.

Returns policy

If we cancel an order

We try to make sure that all prices shown on our website are correct, but sometimes an error may occur. If we discover a price error before we send the order, we will ask if you want to continue at the correct price or cancel the order. Unless we have already sent the order, we do not have to supply products at the wrong price.

If we cancel your order for any reason, we will offer either replacement items or a refund if you have already paid.

If you cancel an order before it is sent

To cancel your order before we send it, you should contact the BPCRS sales team (e: bpcrs@mhra.gov.uk) giving us your full name, address and order ID.

If you have already paid, then we will either substitute product(s) of the same value, credit your account with the value of your order or refund any money taken from your credit or debit card account as soon as possible.

If you cancel an order after it is sent

Unfortunately we will not cancel or refund orders after we have sent them unless they are damaged, defective, or we have sent the wrong items.

We try to process and dispatch orders within 48h (except for Controlled Drugs).

Already placed an order but realised that you've made a mistake with your address? 

Email bpcrs@mhra.gov.uk as soon as possible, however if this order has already been processed we will be unable to make any changes.

If we do not confirm that we have received your order within 2 working days then you should contact the BPCRS sales team.

If you do not receive your order, we have not sent the items that you ordered, or there are damaged items, you must tell us about this within 10 working days of the delivery date.

You should contact the BPCRS sales team, giving us your full name, address, order reference number and contact details so we can tell you what action to take.

We will offer either replacement items or a refund, at our discretion.

We will ask you to either return the items (at our cost) or throw them away.

Impact of the European REACH directive on BPCRS

The European directive EC 1907/2007 on the Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of chemical substances (REACH) is now in force.


  • Since the quantities of BPCRS produced are very small, a maximum of 250 g per substance in any 1 year, no registration is necessary.


  • We write our Safety Data Sheets in line with the directive and make these available on the website as soon as they are completed.


EU and UK reach

Under the European Union (withdrawal) Act 2018, the EU REACH Regulation was brought into UK law on 1 January 2021 and is known as UK REACH. Further details can be found on HSE Gov


declaration of specific use - PDF 75.8 KB

External Links


MHRA payments page

IRMM website

ECHA website