Advanced materials are materials or material combinations with improved, novel or unique functionalities or properties. The European Commission considers nanotechnologies a key technology crucial for competitiveness and economic growth in the European Union (EU). EU research framework programmes, such as Horizon 2020 and Horizon Europe, reflect this importance. New developments range from innovative additives in food packaging and ultralight metal foams to transport systems for active ingredients in medicine or cosmetics. In many cases, these novel materials offer solutions to environmental problems, e.g. by saving energy and materials because of lighter weight. Consequently, they can contribute to a sustainable development of the environment, economy, and society. However, novel materials and/or new functionalities are also associated with uncertainties regarding human health and the environment. It is therefore important to highlight safety-relevant aspects at an early stage and identify potential risks in accordance with the precautionary principle. Because of the complexity of advanced materials, new approaches are required to gain all the necessary knowledge regarding their safety. The concepts of “safe by design” (SbD) and the more recent “safe and sustainable by design” (SSbD) are examples of such approaches. The aim is to integrate safety, recyclability, and functionality of products and processes throughout their whole life cycle to address potential risks to human health and the environment early in the innovation process of new materials. At present, it is still unclear whether all advanced materials are covered by existing chemical safety regulations. It is therefore necessary to review relevant regulations and corresponding risk assessment tools in this context to anticipate and fill any potential loopholes.