Guidance

Manufacturing and marketing fertilisers

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

Domestic framework rules

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

Manufacturing and selling fertilisers in GB

You can continue to manufacture under the domestic GB regulation for fertilisers. Products previously marketed as ‘EC fertilisers’ can be sold in GB as ‘UK fertilisers’ provided:

  • you’re established in the UK
  • a UK approved laboratory has been used to test the product

Fertiliser products from NI can be placed on the GB market providing they are ‘qualifying Northern Ireland goods’.

‘Qualifying Northern Ireland goods’ are defined as:

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

This is part of a phased approach to provide unfettered access. A longer-term approach will be introduced later in 2021.

Selling ‘EC fertiliser’ labelled products in GB

There’s a 2-year transitional period from 1 January 2021, during which you can continue to manufacture and sell material labelled as an ‘EC fertiliser’ in GB provided those products conform to EU standards. Read the EU’s position on these standards. Manufacturers will need to be established within the EU or in NI.

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

Manufacturing and selling fertilisers in NI

You can continue to manufacture and market fertilisers under NI domestic fertiliser regulation.

You can manufacture and sell your products in NI 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 NI.

Products marketed as ‘EC fertilisers’ can also be sold in GB as ‘UK fertilisers’ provided:

  • you’re established in the UK
  • a UK approved laboratory has been used to test the product

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

GB cannot import or export fertiliser from the EU using the mutual recognition principle. You can import into NI 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. GB is qualified as a third country and will be subject to these checks.

Return rejected fertiliser exports to GB

If your consignment is rejected at an EU border control post (BCP), it can re-enter GB 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 GB.

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

There will be changes to the rules for the import of ammonium nitrate fertilisers from EU and non-EU countries into GB.

This will affect solid ammonium nitrate fertilisers if:

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

These rules are the same for all countries.

To import ammonium nitrate, you’ll need to apply for a DRT certificate issued by a UK-based competent laboratory accredited under standard ISO 17025.

Each 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, with a maximum batch run of 92 days.

You also need to:

  • make sure that each batch, or part batch, arrives in GB no more than 60 days after the DRT certificate is issued
  • email fertilisers@defra.gov.uk at least 5 days before the shipment arrives in GB.

You must keep the records of any batch or part batch and their DRT certificates for at least 2 years.

For imports from the EU, there is a 2-year transitional period to introduce these changes. For imports from non-EU countries (third countries), the 2-year transitional period will not apply. NI’s AN import rules will not change.

Published 31 December 2020