Agricultural fertilisers and the ACVM Act 1997

Agricultural fertilisers do not need to be registered for use, manufacture, sale or importing to New Zealand, but you must meet other requirements of the Agricultural Compounds and Veterinary Medicines (ACVM) Act 1997, ACVM Regulations 2011, and other legislation.

What is an agricultural fertiliser?

Fertilisers are nutrients and additives that are applied to plants or soil to maintain or increase the growth, productivity, or quality of plants (or indirectly animals). 

A fertiliser additive is a substance (not a nutrient) that is 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
  • changes the characteristics of a fertiliser to make it more fit for its purpose.

Fertilisers don't include plant growth regulators (also called plant hormones) that change the physiological functions of plants.

Definition of fertiliser in ACVM Regulations 2011

Requirements for agricultural fertilisers

If you import, manufacture, sell, or use fertilisers in New Zealand, you must meet the requirements of the ACVM Act 1997 and Regulations.

Under the Regulations, many ACVM products have to be registered, but fertilisers are exempt (unless they're used for non-fertiliser purposes). Even if your fertiliser is exempt from registration, you must comply with the requirements in the ACVM (Exemptions and Prohibited Substances) Regulations 2011.

You may also have to meet requirements under other legislation, such as the:

What a fertiliser is not

If you make a claim about your product that is outside the definition of a fertiliser – for example, that it controls bud break – it's no longer classed as a fertiliser under the ACVM Act. It becomes an agricultural chemical and will probably require registration.

Register an agricultural chemical 

If you are unsure of your product's status under the ACVM Act, a class determination will tell you.  

Class determinations under the ACVM Act 1997 

Importing agricultural fertilisers

For commercial imports, you'll need to present a class determination letter to border officials before they'll release your product. 

For private imports, check with MPI to confirm if the product fits the definition of a fertiliser. You can use an email confirmation from MPI for clearance at the border.


If you want to import a fertiliser of plant origin, you must meet strict biosecurity requirements to prevent unwanted organisms from getting into New Zealand. 

Importing agricultural fertilisers of plant origin

Exporting agricultural fertilisers

If you want to export a fertiliser, you need to meet the requirements of the destination market. 

Exporting agricultural fertilisers from New Zealand

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