Find out how fertilisers are defined and what legal requirements you need to meet if you want to import, manufacture, sell, or use a fertiliser in New Zealand.

Legal requirements for fertilisers

If you import, manufacture, sell, or use fertilisers in New Zealand, you must meet the requirements of the ACVM Act 1997 and Regulations. These products may also have requirements under other legislation, such as the Hazardous Substances and New Organisms Act 1996, the Animal Products Act 1999, and the Biosecurity Act 1993.

Defining fertiliser

Under the ACVM Act, a fertiliser is a subset of agricultural compound that is used to sustain or increase the growth, productivity, or quality of plants or, indirectly, animals through the application (to plants or soil) of nutrients and fertiliser additives*.  

Fertilisers and fertiliser additives do not include substances that are plant growth regulators that modify the physiological functions of plants.

* A fertiliser additive is a non-nutrient substance added to a fertiliser, or applied by itself to land or plants, that:

  • improves the supply and uptake of nutrients or
  • increases biological activity or
  • modifies the physical characteristics of a fertiliser to make it more fit for its purpose.

When a fertiliser is not a fertiliser

If you make claims about your product that go beyond the definition of a fertiliser – for example, saying the product will control bud break – the product is no longer considered a fertiliser. It becomes an 'agricultural chemical' and will likely require registration.

If you are unsure of your product's status under the ACVM Act, we can do a class determination for you. There is a fee for this service. 

Importing fertilisers

For commercial imports of fertilisers, you will need a class determination letter to present to border officials before the product will be released. There is a fee for this service.

For private imports of fertilisers, check with MPI first to get advice on whether the product fits the definition of a fertiliser. An email confirmation can be provided for clearance at the border.

If you want to import a fertiliser of plant origin, you must meet strict biosecurity requirements. These requirements are to prevent the entry of unwanted organisms into New Zealand. For more on this, see here:

Exporting fertilisers

New Zealand exports fertilisers ranging from nutrients to soil additives. If you want to export a fertiliser product, you will need to meet the requirements of overseas markets. 

Requirements for fertilisers

Even if your fertiliser is exempt from registration, you must still comply with the requirements in the ACVM (Exemptions and Prohibited Substances) Regulations 2011.

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