Import of Fertilisers
An EU product that does not meet the GB Fertiliser Regulation 1991 may still be able to be imported under the Mutual Recognition Regulation (MRR). Mutual Recognition is the principle that a product lawfully marketed in one Member State and not subject to EU harmonisation may be marketed in another Member State, even when the product does not comply fully with the technical rules of the importing State.
There is no registration or licensing process in place for the marketing of inorganic mineral fertilisers in Great Britain. To sell mineral fertilisers in GB, importers need to satisfy themselves that they meet the requirements of EU Fertilisers Regulation (EC) 2003/2003 or, if selling only in mainland GB, (Northern Ireland operates under separate legislation), the requirements of the GB Fertiliser Regulations 1991 or (if relevant) the Ammonium Nitrate (High Nitrogen Content) Safety Regulations 2003. The products must also comply with GB trade descriptions legislation as well as all EU and domestic legislation designed to ensure environmental protection, human health and safety and product security.
Importers of mineral fertilisers are not required to obtain official registration or Government approval of EC designated products prior to distribution in GB. Annex 1 of EU Fertiliser Regulation (EC) 2003/2003 (currently undergoing a comprehensive review) defines the designation, compositional tolerances, identification, marking, labelling and packaging of fertilisers designated as EC fertilisers. A list of approved laboratories nominated by national governments for the purposes of confirming conformance with the Regulations is available at: Approved Laboratories 2014.
All EC designated fertilisers can be freely sold in GB.
These Regulations enact EC 2003/2003 in England and Wales and specify penalties for breaches by economic operators of the requirements of Fertiliser Regulation (EC) 2003/2003. Local authorities are responsible for enforcing these Regulations and appoint inspectors for this purpose. Inspectors have powers of entry and can take samples for analysis and serve compliance notices.
Similarly, fertilisers imported for sale exclusively in GB do not have to be registered or approved by Government. The Fertilisers Regulations 1991 as amended specify the composition, labelling and packaging of the product and place a responsibility on the manufacturer to declare the nutrient content. The Regulations include a series of Schedules listing type designations of fertilisers. Imported products that have not been designated EC fertilisers under EU Fertilisers Regulation (EC) 2003/2003 must comply with standards and composition requirements of these Regulations. (See Flowchart at Appendix 3).
Importers of fertilisers made from processed animal by-products must comply with the Fertilisers Regulations 1991 and the Guidance on Fertiliser from Processed ABP.
It may be possible to product manufactured in another Member State that does not meet the requirements of the GB Fertiliser Regulations due to the Mutual Recognition Regulation (MRR). In intra-EU trade in goods, mutual recognition is the principle that a product lawfully marketed in one Member State and not subject to Union harmonisation should be allowed to be marketed in any other Member State, even when the product does not fully comply with the technical rules of the Member State of destination. (See Flowchart at Appendix 3)
The EC designated fertilisers parts of the GB Regulations 1991 have been dis-applied by subsequent legislation (The EC Fertilisers (England and Wales) Regulations 2006). The GB Regulations 1991 are outdated and will be revised or revoked following enactment of a revised EU Regulation.
Local authorities are responsible for enforcing these Regulations and appoint inspectors for this purpose. Inspectors have powers of entry and can take samples for analysis and serve compliance notices.
These Regulations prescribe the official methods for enforcement authorities when taking and handling samples and checking the accuracy of the nutrient declarations of fertilisers sold in GB. The Regulations specify the qualifications of those who can take samples and the form of certification of analysis.
Imported ammonium nitrate (AN) in solid form, with a nitrogen content that is more that 28% of its weight, must comply with the Ammonium Nitrate Materials (High Nitrogen Content) Safety Regulations 2003. Importers of AN fertiliser into Great Britain are required to notify Defra at least five days before its expected date of arrival in a British port. The following documents must be forwarded to Defra:
a) An identification document showing:
- the importers name and address;
- the quantity of the AN material in the batch;
- the reference number of the Detonation Resistance Test Certificate together with a certificate from a sampling body certifying the sample passed the Detonation Resistance Test and was representative of the batch;
- the actual date and place of loading the material onto the vessel for delivery into Great Britain;
- the name of the vessel;
- the port of departure and port of arrival.
- the date of arrival,
- the date of off-loading the material.
- the name and address of the person to receive some/all of the material into a store immediately following importation.
- details of the location of each store for the material and the quantity destined for each store;
- evidence that each store which receives the imported material is available to the importer and the person who controls that store can legally take delivery of the intended quantity of material at that store;
- if applicable, the name and address of any purchaser or intended purchaser of some/all of the material;
- a statement of the intended end use of the material; and
- if the material is intended to be used as a fertiliser or as an ingredient of a fertiliser, details of the declared CN code number to the Commissioners for Customs and Excise under the Integrated Customs Tariff of the United Kingdom (2002 edition)
b) A "Detonation Resistance Test Certificate" - the original or a guaranteed (signed and authorised by a duly appointed person in the accredited laboratory) copy of a certificate issued by a competent laboratory in the English language relating to a Detonation Resistance Test of a sample of relevant ammonium nitrate material confirming that the tested sample is resistant to detonation.
c) "Sampling Certificate" When ammonium nitrate material is imported from outside of the European Union it must be accompanied by a certificate from a sampling body certifying a representative sample of the material has been taken and been subjected to a Detonation Resistance Test undertaken in a competent laboratory within the European Union not more than sixty days before the material arrives into Great Britain. Completed notification forms should be sent to the Fertilisers Mailbox within Defra.
A “Guidance Note for Manufacturers, Importers, Blenders, Transporters, Store Keepers and Suppliers of Ammonium Nitrate Based Fertilisers” advises economic operators of their responsibilities and the serious consequences in the event of a batch of ammonium nitrate fertiliser failing a Detonation Resistance Test.
AN product which has been manufactured for non-fertiliser use (e.g.as an explosive) cannot be supplied or used as a fertiliser in GB.
Local authorities are responsible for enforcing the AN (High Nitrogen Content) Safety Regulations and appoint inspectors for this purpose. Inspectors have powers of entry and can take samples for analysis and detonation resistance testing and can serve compliance notices.
For further information on these Regulations, contact Defra’s Fertilisers Mailbox at email@example.com.
In Northern Ireland, it is illegal to import and/or take possession of fertilisers which have more than 79% AN, (27.65% of the mixture by weight), unless licensed by the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) Explosives Inspectorate. A farmer would also have to apply to the PSNI Explosives Inspectorate to be allowed to possess AN. Most fertilisers in Northern Ireland are based on calcium ammonium nitrate.
Chemical substances imported into GB in amounts of 1 tonne per year must have been registered with the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) in Helsinki. The passage of information up and down the supply chain is a key feature of REACH. A safety data sheet (SDS) in the prescribed format must be provided by the importer for every ‘hazardous’ substance or mixture for progression down the supply chain. The data sheet can be supplied as a paper copy or ‘electronically’. Requiring customers to obtain an SDS from the importer’s company website or from a catalogue of SDS’s is not considered ‘appropriate’ by the GB Health and Safety Executive (HSE). Customers may also request an SDS for non-hazardous materials.
HSE are responsible for enforcing this Regulation.
This Regulation was enacted to protect workers, consumers and the environment from the impacts of hazardous chemicals. It incorporates the Globally Harmonized System (GHS) of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals criteria into EU Law and complements the REACH Regulation. Some materials have been re-classified due to the REACH process which has led them to fall under the CLP Regulation (e.g. AN). Manufacturers, importers, and downstream users are required to classify, label, and package substances and mixtures in accordance with the CLP Regulation before placing them on the market within the EU.
The UK has identified a significant threat to national security. The current threat level is ‘Severe’ which means a terrorist attack is highly likely. In common with other economic operators, importers need to be vigilant to help prevent terrorist activity. EU Regulation 98/2013 identifies a number of substances that are difficult to control because, in addition to professional use, they can be used for illicit purposes. The list includes a number of nitrogen fertilisers. Article 9 of the Regulation gives economic operators the right to refuse a suspicious transaction and also imposes a duty on them to report any suspicious transactions as well as significant disappearances and thefts involving these substances to the national contact points designated by Member State authorities. Disappearances and thefts of amounts of precursor materials that are unusual to the business should be reported to the Anti-Terrorist Hotline on 0800 789 321. Reporting should be done without undue delay. In an emergency, dial 999.
The Home Office is responsible for enforcing the EU Explosives Precursors Regulation.
Importers of fertilisers into GB should seek certification under the Fertiliser Industry Assurance Scheme (FIAS), which covers the assurance of fertilisers intended for agriculture, horticulture, forestry, amenity and any other such commercial use. The Scheme, which is supported by the British Government, requires companies to demonstrate that they comply fully with:
- all relevant EU & GB legislation
- product safety
- the standards required of suppliers to the agricultural sector.
Participants in FIAS are audited annually by assessors appointed by an independent certification body.
Although membership of FIAS is voluntary, importers will find it difficult, if not impossible, to do business with other parts of the fertiliser supply chain if they are not members of the Scheme. Information on FIAS can be found on the AIC Trade Assurance website.
Importers of fertiliser products from outside the EU may be required to pay an anti-dumping tariff. Anti-dumping measures address the situation where fertilisers are imported into the EU at less than their true value in their home market, allowing the exporter to artificially lower the cost of the products. These are a matter of international and EU law. The EU Commission will not open an anti-dumping case without substantial evidence of injury to European producers and measures are only applied if dumping is found to exist.