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This article applies to selling in: United Kingdom

Rules for Fertilisers

EU requirements: Regulation (EC) 2003/2003 (the “EC Fertilisers Regulation”) sets out requirements for mineral fertilisers consisting of one or more plant nutrients sold in the EU. Please note that other fertilisers are governed by EU Member State national legislation. In addition to specific chemical and technical requirements, the EC Fertilisers Regulation sets out labelling, traceability, and information requirements. The EC Fertilisers Regulation will be replaced by Regulation (EU) 2019/1009 (the “New EU Fertilising Products Regulation”) with effect from July 16, 2022.

It is your responsibility to comply with the EU requirements if you are selling fertilisers in the EU. You must also comply with national laws and regulations in Member States in which you sell these products.

Please see below for further information about EU requirements.

UK Requirements: Until the end of the Brexit transition period (December 31, 2020), the EC Fertilisers Regulation sets out requirements for mineral fertilisers consisting of one or more plant nutrients sold in the UK. In addition to specific chemical and technical requirements, the EC Fertilisers Regulation sets out labelling, traceability, and information requirements. The UK Fertilisers Regulation 1991 (No. 2197) also sets out requirements for the labelling and packaging of fertilisers sold in the UK.

After the end of the Brexit transition period (December 31, 2020), an amended version of the EC Fertilisers Regulation will apply to the supply and sale of fertilizers in the UK as a result of The fertilisers and Ammonium Nitrate Material (Amendment) (EU Exit) Regulations 2019 (the “UK Regulation on Fertiliser Products”). Different rules apply to goods you sell in: (1) Great Britain (England, Scotland and Wales); and (2) Northern Ireland. We have noted below where there will be relevant changes in the UK requirements following the Brexit transition period.

It is your responsibility to comply with the UK requirements if you are selling fertilisers in the UK. If you also sell on Amazon EU websites, then you must also comply with the EC Fertilisers Regulation and with other national requirements in the countries in which you sell these products.

Please see below for further information about UK requirements.

This material is for informational purposes, and you should not take it as a substitute for legal advice. We encourage you to consult your legal counsel for any concerns about the laws and regulations relating to your product. This material only reflects the position at the date of writing and requirements in the EU and the UK may change – particularly in light of the developing position with Brexit. You should refer to current UK Brexit guidance about your products (where available) to learn more about changes that may affect you following the end of the transition period.

EU requirements: What products are in the scope of the EU requirements?

The EC Fertilisers Regulation applies to fertilisers (defined as a material, the main function of which is to provide nutrients for plants) that belongs to one of the types listed in Annex I of the EC Fertilisers Regulation and are designated as EC Fertilisers.

Who has obligations under the EU requirements?

The EC Fertilisers Regulation applies to manufacturers of fertilisers. However, you are considered to be the manufacturer if you are responsible for offering a fertiliser for sale or supply in the EU. Offering a fertiliser for sale or supply in the EU includes:

  • Supply of a fertiliser either for payment or free charge
  • Storage for the purpose of supply
  • Import of a fertiliser into the customs territory of the EU

In particular, you will be considered a manufacturer if you are a producer, importer, a packager working for your own account, or if you change the characteristics of a fertiliser.

Distributors who do not change the characteristics of a fertiliser are not deemed to be the manufacturer.

Importantly, the manufacturer must be established in the EU and is responsible for the conformity of the fertiliser with the EC Fertiliser Regulation.

What are the key obligations on manufacturers under the EU requirements?

Fertiliser designation

Fertilisers that are marked as "EC Fertiliser" are able to freely circulate in the EU. Fertilisers that meet the requirements of the EC Fertiliser Regulation and belong to a type of fertiliser listed in Annex I can be marked as "EC fertiliser".

A fertiliser can only be included in Annex I if:

  • It provides nutrients in an effective manner
  • Relevant sampling, analysis, and if required, test methods are being provided
  • Under normal conditions of use, it does not adversely affect human, animal, or plant health, or the environment

Fertilisers that do not comply with the requirements of the EC Fertiliser Regulation must not be designated as an "EC Fertiliser".

The EC Fertiliser Regulation contains specific provisions relating to particular types of fertiliser. You must ensure compliance with these provisions to the extent they apply to your fertiliser products.

Labelling and information

Packages, labels, and accompanying documents must bear the following markings. These markings must be clearly separated from any other information on the packages, labels, and accompanying documents:

  • "EC FERTILISER"
  • Designation of type per Annex 1 of the EC Fertilisers Regulation, if applicable
  • 'Blend', for blended fertillisers, after the designation of type
  • Compulsory identification markings relating to inorganic primary nutrient fertilisers, inorganic secondary nutrient fertilisers, and inorganic micro-nutrient fertilisers (see Article 19, 21, and 23 respectively)
  • Nutrients (indicated both in words and by chemical symbol)
  • Name of micro-nutrient if applicable and the relevant qualifier, listed in the alphabetical order of their chemical symbol
  • Specific directions for use (if applicable, see E.1 and E.2 of Annex I of the EC Fertilisers Regulation)
  • Quantity of fluid fertiliser (expressed by mass)
  • Net or gross mass, and optionally, volume for fluid fertilisers
  • Name or trade name and address of manufacturer

If the fertilisers are packed, these identification markings shall appear on the packages or labels. If the fertilisers are in bulk, these markings shall appear on the accompanying documents. Packaged fertilisers must be closed in such a way, manually or by a device, that ensures that the fastening, fastening seal, or the package itself gets irreparably damaged once it is opened. Valve sacks may be used.

Fluid fertilisers sold in the EU must be accompanied by suitable additional instructions, which must cover, in particular, storage temperature and prevention of accidents during storage.

Additional optional identification information can also be marked, for example, indications of dose rates.

Language

The label, the markings on the package, and the accompanying documents must appear in the national language or languages of Member States in which the EC fertiliser is sold.

Traceability

The EC Fertilisers Regulation requires the manufacturer to maintain records of the origin of the fertilisers. These records must be available for inspection by Member State authorities as long as the fertiliser is being supplied to the EU and for a period of two years after the manufacturer has stopped supplying it.

There are no general EU-level registration requirements. However, high nitrogen content ammonium nitrate fertilisers must pass a “resistance to detonation” test and the test results must be submitted to the relevant competent authorities at least 5 days before offering the fertiliser for sale or supply in the EU, or in the case of imports, at least 5 days before the arrival of the fertiliser at the borders of the EU. Following this, the manufacturer should continue to ensure that all fertilisers sold in the EU can pass the test.

Do distributors have obligations?

Although the EC Fertilisers Regulation does not impose obligations on distributors as long as they are not considered to be a manufacturer (see “Who has obligations under the EU requirements”), distributors do have obligations under the General Product Safety Directive when selling to consumers.

These include:

  • A general obligation of due care in respect of safety requirements
  • An obligation to inform the authorities if they know, or ought to know on the basis of information in their possession, that a product poses a risk to consumers because it does not comply with the general safety requirement
  • An obligation to cooperate with the authorities at their request to avoid risks posed by products they supply or have supplied

The New Regulations

The New EU Fertilising Products Regulation will repeal the EC Fertilisers Regulation. Changes to the regulatory regime include:

  • the expansion of the scope to include secondary raw material based and bio-based fertilising products;
  • new rules on safety, quality and labelling requirements for fertilising products – for instance:
    • it will divide fertilising products into separate product function categories that will each be subject to specific safety and quality requirements; and
    • it will divide component materials for fertilising products into different component material categories that will each be subject to specific process requirements and control mechanism;
  • the introduction of new limits on toxic contaminants in fertilising products.

Additional information

We strongly encourage you to visit the European Commission’s websites for more information on the EU requirements for fertilisers:

http://ec.europa.eu/DocsRoom/documents/8871/attachments/1/translations/?locale=en

http://ec.europa.eu/growth/sectors/chemicals/legislation_en

UK requirements: Where do the UK requirements for fertiliser products apply?

The UK requirements for fertiliser products apply to all products sold in the UK, but the provisions apply differently to Great Britain (England, Scotland and Wales, “GB”) and Northern Ireland. You can read more about the position in Northern Ireland (“NI”) below.

What products are in the scope of the UK requirements?

The UK requirements for fertiliser products apply to fertilisers (defined as a material, the main function of which is to provide nutrients for plants) that belong to one of the types listed in Annex I of the EC Fertilisers Regulation and are designated as “EC Fertilisers” (until the end of the Brexit transition period) or Annex I of the UK Regulation on Fertiliser Products and are designated as “UK Fertilisers” (after the end of the Brexit transition period).

Who has obligations under the UK requirements?

The UK requirements apply to manufacturers of fertilisers. However, you may be considered to be the manufacturer if you are responsible for offering a fertiliser for sale or supply in GB. Offering a fertiliser for sale of supply in GB includes:

  • Supply of a fertilisers either for payment or free charge
  • Storage for the purpose of supply
  • Import of a fertiliser into GB

In particular, you will be considered a manufacturer if you are a producer, importer, a packager working for your own account, or if you change the characteristics of a fertiliser.

Distributors who do not change the characteristics of a fertiliser are not deemed to be the manufacturer.

Importantly, the manufacturer is responsible for the conformity of the fertiliser with the UK requirements for fertilisers. Until the end of the Brexit transition period (December 31, 2020) the manufacturer must be established within the EU. After the end of the Brexit transition period, the manufacturer must be established in GB.

What are the key obligations for manufacturers under the UK requirements?

Fertiliser designation

Fertilisers that meet the UK requirements for fertilisers can be marked with one of the following designations which enable the fertiliser to freely circulate in the UK:

  • until the end of the Brexit transition period (December 31, 2020) as “EC Fertilisers”, provided it belongs to one of the types listed in Annex I of the EC Fertilisers Regulation; and
  • after the end of the Brexit transition period (December 31, 2020) as “UK Fertilisers”, provided it belongs to one of the types listed in Annex I of the UK Regulation on Fertiliser Products.

A fertiliser can only be included in Annex I if:

  • It provides nutrients in an effective manner
  • Relevant sampling, analysis, and if required, test methods are being provided
  • Under normal conditions of use, it does not adversely affect human, animal, or plant health, or the environment

Fertilisers that do not comply with the requirements must not be designated as either an "EC Fertiliser" (until the end of the Brexit transition period) or a “UK Fertiliser” (after the end of the Brexit transition period).

The UK requirements for fertilisers contain specific provisions relating to particular types of fertiliser. You must ensure compliance with these provisions to the extent they apply to your fertiliser product(s).

Labelling and information

Packages, labels, and accompanying documents must bear the following markings. These markings must be clearly separated from any other information on the packages, labels, and accompanying documents:

  • "EC FERTILISER"(for the period until the end of the Brexit transition period, December 31, 2020) or “UK FERTILISER” (after the end of the Brexit transition period, December 31, 2020). Products labelled “EC FERTILISER” can continue to be sold in the UK until January 1, 2023, provided that these products conform with EU standards and the manufacturer is based in the EU or NI.
  • Designation of type per Annex 1 of EC Fertilisers Regulation / UK Regulation on Fertiliser Products, as applicable
  • 'Blend', for blended fertillisers, after designation of type
  • Compulsory identification markings relating to inorganic primary nutrient fertilisers, inorganic secondary nutrient fertilisers, and inorganic micro-nutrient fertilisers (see Article 19, 21, and 23 respectively)
  • Nutrients (indicated both in words and by chemical symbol)
  • Name of micro-nutrient if applicable and the relevant qualifier, listed in the alphabetical order of their chemical symbol
  • Specific directions for use (if applicable, see E.1 and E.2 of Annex I of EC Fertilisers Regulation / UK Regulation on Fertiliser Products)
  • Quantity of fluid fertiliser (expressed by mass)
  • Net or gross mass, and optionally, volume for fluid fertilisers
  • Name or trade name and address of manufacturer

If the fertilisers are packed, these identification markings shall appear on the packages or labels. If the fertilisers are in bulk, these markings shall appear on the accompanying documents. Packaged fertilisers must be closed in such a way, manually or by a device, that ensures that the fastening, fastening seal, or the package itself gets irreparably damaged once it is opened. Valve sacks may be used.

Fluid fertilisers sold in the UK must be accompanied by suitable additional instructions, which must cover, in particular, storage temperature and prevention of accidents during storage.

Additional optional identification information can also be marked, for example, indications of dose rates.

Language

The label, the markings on the package, and the accompanying documents must appear in English. Information may also appear in other languages in addition to English.

Traceability

The EC Fertilisers Regulation requires the manufacturer to maintain records of the origin of the fertilisers. These records must be available for inspection by UK enforcement authorities as long as the fertiliser is being supplied to the UK and for a period of two years after the manufacturer has stopped supplying it. The enforcement authorities in the UK are Trading Standards, local Scottish Councils and the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs in Northern Ireland.

There are no general registration requirements. However, high nitrogen content ammonium nitrate fertilisers must pass a “resistance to detonation” test and the test results must be submitted to the Secretary of State for the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs at least 5 days before offering the fertiliser for sale or supply in GB, or in the case of imports, at least 5 days before the arrival of the fertiliser in GB. Following this, the manufacturer should continue to ensure that all fertilisers sold in the UK can pass the test.

Note: Products that are first made available in the EU or UK on or before December 31, 2020, can continue to circulate until they reach their end user and do not need to comply with the changes that take effect from January 1, 2021. You can retain evidence of when products were first made available in the UK or EU by keeping documents including contracts of sale, invoices and documents concerning the shipping of goods for distribution.

Do distributors have obligations?

Although the EC Fertilisers Regulation does not impose obligations on distributors as long as they are not considered to be a manufacturer (see the “Who has obligations under the UK requirements?” section, above), distributors do have obligations under the UK’s General Product Safety Regulation when selling to consumers.

These include:

  • a general obligation of due care in respect of safety requirements
  • an obligation to inform Trading Standards if they know, or ought to know on the basis of information in their possession, that a product poses a risk to consumers because it does not comply with the general safety requirement
  • an obligation to cooperate with Trading Standards at their request to avoid risks posed by products they supply or have supplied

Northern Ireland

Please note that different rules will apply in NI from January 1, 2021, as a result of the Northern Ireland Protocol. In particular:

  • You should ensure that products meet EU requirements .
  • You are a manufacturer if you are established in the EU or NI and you sell products from a country outside of the EU and Northern Ireland (including from GB) into NI. Products sold in NI should be marked with details of any EU / NI based manufacturer.
  • “Qualifying Northern Ireland goods” will be able to be sold in GB with the CE mark. The UK Government is issuing guidance on how this will work.

Brexit: UK Government guidance

The UK Government has released guidance on selling products in GB and NI after Brexit. This guidance provides information for manufacturers, importers and distributors regarding compliance requirements from January 1, 2021, including on:

  • whether your legal responsibilities will change as a result of Brexit;
  • whether you need to provide GB importer information, and methods for doing this (including transitional arrangements until the end of 2022);
  • what documentary evidence is required to show that products have been placed in the UK or EU before the end of the Transition Period; and
  • specific rules for selling products in NI.

We encourage you to review this guidance (linked below), alongside any other specific UK Government guidance that applies to your product. You should consult your legal counsel if you have questions about how the laws and regulations apply to your products from January 1, 2021.

The Brexit guidance can be found here:

Additional information

We strongly encourage you to visit the following UK Government websites for more information on the UK requirements for fertilisers, including changes as a result of Brexit from January 1, 2021:

https://www.gov.uk/guidance/manufacturing-and-marketing-fertilisers-from-1-january-2021

We also encourage you to visit the Business Companion website, which contains further guidance on UK product compliance rules:

https://www.businesscompanion.info/en/get-started

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