Guidance

Manufacturing and marketing fertilisers

The rules that manufacturers and importers of fertilisers need to follow when trading with the UK.

Domestic framework rules

Current domestic frameworks for Great Britain and Northern Ireland are in place allowing fertilisers to be sold in the UK.

Manufacturing and selling fertilisers in Great Britain

You can manufacture fertiliser under domestic fertiliser legislation in Great Britain.

You can sell your products in Great Britain as ‘UK fertiliser’ if:

  • you’re established in the UK
  • your product has been tested by a UK approved laboratory, where testing is required

You can place fertiliser products from Northern Ireland on the Great Britain market providing they are ‘qualifying Northern Ireland goods’.

‘Qualifying Northern Ireland goods’ are defined as:

  • in ‘free circulation’ in Northern Ireland, on the basis that they are not under customs supervision (excepting any supervision arising from the good being taken out of Northern Ireland or the EU)
  • any good which has undergone processing operations in Northern Ireland under the inward processing procedure; and which only incorporates inputs from Great Britain, or which were in free circulation in Northern Ireland.

Selling ‘EC fertiliser’ labelled products in Great Britain

There’s a 2-year transition period from 1 January 2021, during which you can continue to manufacture and sell material labelled as an ‘EC fertiliser’ in Great Britain. These products must conform to EU standards. Read the EU’s position on these standards. Manufacturers will need to be established within the EU or in Northern Ireland.

EC fertiliser that’s a ‘qualifying Northern Ireland good’ can be placed on the Great Britain market on an ongoing basis.

Manufacturing and selling fertilisers in Northern Ireland

You can manufacture and market fertilisers under domestic fertiliser legislation in Northern Ireland.

You can manufacture and sell your products in Norther Ireland as ‘EC fertilisers’ but you’ll need to make sure you meet EU standards. Read the EU’s position on these standards. Manufacturers need to be established within the EU or in Northern Ireland.

Products that meet the requirements for ‘UK fertilisers’ can also be sold in Great Britain as ‘UK fertilisers’ provided:

  • you’re established in the UK
  • your product has been tested by a UK approved laboratory, where testing is required

Trading with the EU and EEA

You can manufacture your products as ‘EC fertilisers’ and export to the EU or EEA, but you must meet EU standards. The European Commission has published detailed guidance setting out the EU’s position on these standards. Manufacturers will need to be established within the EU or Northern Ireland.

If you’re based in Great Britain and are sending goods to the EU you’ll need to complete a UK customs export declaration. Read the Border Operating Model.

Great Britain cannot import or export fertiliser from the EU using the mutual recognition principle. You can import into Northern Ireland from the EU under this principle, but you can not export to the EU.

The EU carries out additional checks on goods imported into and placed on the EU market from third countries. Great Britain is qualified as a third country and will be subject to these checks.

Return rejected fertiliser exports to Great Britain

If your consignment is rejected at an EU border control post (BCP), it can re-enter Great Britain through any point of entry.

For consignments of solid ammonium nitrate fertiliser with a nitrogen content of more than 28% of its weight, in a consignment weighing 500 kilograms or more, you must:

  • notify the return port authority of the consignment type, arrival date and that it’s a returned good and the reason for return
  • email fertilisers@defra.gov.uk at least 5 days before the shipment arrives in Great Britain.

You’ll need to provide Defra with:

  • a valid detonation resistance test (DRT) certificate
  • the sampling certificate
  • Defra’s Shipment Identification Document
  • the reason for the return outlined in the covering email

If a valid DRT certificate is not presented, Border Force will detain the goods and the Trading Standards Office (TSO) will be contacted.

Ammonium nitrate imports

You must have a detonation resistance test (DRT) certificate if you are importing ammonium nitrate fertilisers from any country and:

  • the nitrogen content is more than 28% of its weight
  • the consignment weighs 500kg or more

Until 1 January 2023, you can get a DRT certificate from any approved laboratory in the UK or EU that is accredited under standard ISO 17025.

Each DRT certificate should relate to a sample from each production run batch. A ‘batch’ means the quantity of material manufactured without alteration of composition or characteristics. The maximum batch run is 92 days.

You must also:

  • make sure any batch, or part batch, from outside the EU arrives in Great Britain no more than 60 days after the laboratory issued the DRT certificate
  • email fertilisers@defra.gov.uk at least 5 days before the shipment arrives in Great Britain
  • keep records of any batch, or part batch, and their DRT certificates for at least 2 years

After 1 January 2023, you must:

  • get a DRT certificate from a laboratory in the UK, accredited under standard ISO 17025
  • make sure that each batch, or part batch, from anywhere in the world arrives in Great Britain no more than 60 days after the laboratory issued the DRT certificate
  • keep records of any batch, or part batch, and their DRT certificates for at least 2 years
  • email fertilisers@defra.gov.uk at least 5 days before the shipment arrives in Great Britain
Published 31 December 2020