Buying and using professional rodenticides

20 September 2023

A pair of rats

Unsure of the best way to access professional rodenticides? Read our guide to find out which assurance schemes you may need to participate in and where and how rodenticides can be used.

Proof of competence 

The UK Rodenticide Stewardship Scheme run by the CRRU (Campaign for Responsible Rodenticide Use) was set up in 2015 to assure the HSE (Health and Safety Executive), the UK government body responsible for the regulation of rodenticides, that rodenticides can continue to be used safely.

Under the scheme only those who are able to show they are sufficiently competent in the use of professional rodenticides can now purchase and use them. Proof of competence is either a certificate from a CRRU approved course, or membership of a CRRU approved farm assurance scheme

This only applies to rodenticide products applied outside buildings and does not involve rodenticides restricted to use indoors or fumigant gases.

How to purchase rodenticide 

There are two options for farmers wishing to purchase and use professional rodenticide products themselves:

  • Become a member of a CRRU approved farm assurance scheme.
  • Obtain a certificate through undertaking a CRRU UK approved training course.

Alternative options are:

  • Employ a certified pest management professional.
  • Purchase and use amateur rodenticide products.

For an initial purchase with a supplier a declaration form and photo ID will also be required.

Declaration form – A form is required for each supplier a farmer intends to purchase rodenticides from. There are different forms for those certified through a training scheme and those through a farm assurance scheme. Both are downloadable from the CRRU website under the ‘Point of Sale’ tab in the Stewardship section. The supplier will keep this form. 

Photo ID – For cash accounts, or initial purchase with a supplier, photo ID (passport, driving licence etc.) is required alongside proof of competence. Once a customer is known to the supplier, and has an existing account, then photo ID is no longer required. 

Farm assurance schemes

For farmers who are members of an approved scheme, membership documents presented at point of sale will be regarded as proof of competence and certification with no further proof required.

There are currently 17 farm assurance schemes recognized by the CRRU stewardship scheme:

  • Agricultural Industries Confederation
  • British Egg Industry Council Code of Practice for Lion Eggs
  • Farm Assured Welsh Livestock - Beef & Lamb
  • Laid in Britain
  • Northern Ireland Farm Quality Assurance Scheme - Beef and Lamb
  • Northern Ireland Farm Quality Assurance Cereals Scheme
  • Quality Meat Scotland - Beef & Lamb
  • Quality Meat Scotland - Pigs
  • Red Tractor Farm Assurance – Beef and Lamb
  • Red Tractor Farm Assurance – Chickens
  • Red Tractor Farm Assurance – Crops
  • Red Tractor Farm Assurance – Dairy
  • Red Tractor Farm Assurance – Ducks
  • Red Tractor Farm Assurance – Fresh Produce
  • Red Tractor Farm Assurance – Pigs
  • Red Tractor Farm Assurance – Turkeys
  • Scottish Quality Crops

CRRU UK approved training courses

Farmers who are not members of an approved scheme, but who wish to purchase and use professional rodenticides themselves, will need to have a certificate showing they have completed and passed a CRRU approved training course.

What if I've already completed a training course?

If you've completed a training course previously, check if your certificate is for one of the following CRRU approved courses:

  • RSPH/BPCA Level 2 Award in Pest Management (2010 onwards)
  • RSPH/BPCA Level 2 Certificate in Pest Management (2010 onwards)
  • City & Guilds NPTC Level 2 Award in the Safe Use of Pesticides for Vertebrate Pest Control for Rats and Mice (QCF) (PA-R&M) (2013 onwards)
  • Lantra Awards Level 2 Award in Rodent Management (2022-onwards)
  • Open Awards Level 2 Award in the Principles of Rodent Control (2023-onwards)
  • RSPH Level 2 Award in the safe use of rodenticides (2015 onwards)
  • BPCA Using Rodenticides Safely (Exam through Lantra) (2023-onwards)
  • Open Awards Level 2 Award in Rodent Control for Gamekeepers and Rural Environments (2023-onwards)

These courses are all approved and still available to undertake. They must have been completed after or during the year shown next to them in brackets to be valid. 

The CRRU also specify a number of grandfather certification courses – these are courses which are no longer available to undertake, but are still valid as proof of competence under the CRRU scheme. If your certificate from one of the grandfather courses was completed within the date specified on the course, then you can also use that to purchase professional rodenticide. 

What if my certificate is out of date?

If your certificate is no longer valid then you will need to complete a current approved training course. There are 9 courses currently available; the CRRU recommends 4 of these as being most suited to farmers. You only need to complete one course.

The 4 recommended courses and the options available to undertake them are as follows:

Training can be online, or classroom based. There is also an option to take an exam without training if you feel you already have the knowledge required.

For more information, visit: | CRRU Training & Certification

CPD and refreshing your training

Continued Professional Development, otherwise known as CPD, is encouraged by CRRU to ensure you maintain your knowledge to stewardship levels, although it is not a formal requirement for the purchase of professional rodenticides.

For a list of established CPD schemes, visit: | CPD and Stewardship

BPCA also offer free CPD resources including refresher quizzes, which can be accessed through joining the BPCA's free affiliate scheme.

CRRU has produced some free learning resources of their own that are available on the CPD page of the website for rodenticide users outside of established schemes to use. There are 6 presentations available to download.

An alternative to CPD is to repeat training and certification at regular intervals. For example, Lantra recommend retaking their courses after 5 years.

Chemical control options

Two non-anticoagulant actives are currently authorised for professional use in the UK; cholecalciferol (vitamin D3) and aluminium phosphide releasing phosphine gas.

Chemical rodenticides fall in to three categories: FGARs (first generation anticoagulant rodenticides), SGARs (second generation anticoagulant rodenticides) and non-anticoagulant rodenticides.

Although they were in use for more than 50 years, FGAR actives are no longer authorised in the UK. Resistance to them was first recorded in 1959, but recent years have seen growing resistance in both rats and mice. This has now led to their withdrawal from the market.

Please note that authorisation and sale of warfarin-containing products ended on 1 September 2023, however there is a use-up period that runs until 28 February 2024.

A second generation of anticoagulants (the SGARs) was developed in the 1970s and 80s, to combat resistance to the FGARs. These are generally more effective against all rodent pests, both anticoagulant-susceptible and resistant, and are widely available to professional users in the UK.

Five SGAR actives are currently authorised for professional use in the UK; brodifacoum, bromadiolone, difethialone, difenacoum and flocoumafen. Rodenticide products generally contain only one of these actives, but there are some products available that contain both bromadiolone and difenacoum – each at half strength.

Interactive maps of anticoagulant resistance in rats and mice are published by the international rodenticide resistance action committee.

Using chemical rodenticides

There are five areas in which professional rodenticides can be used. Areas permitted for use vary between products, and will be listed on the product label. By law, the instructions on the product label must be adhered to.

The five areas for rodenticide use are:

  • Indoors: bait can be applied inside a building that has a rodent infestation.
  • Outdoors (around buildings): bait can be used outside, in the vicinity of a building that is associated with a rodent infestation, and to protect the building where you anticipate the infestation may enter the building.
  • Outdoors (open areas): bait can be used outside, away from buildings, in an area where a rat infestation is not demonstrably associated with a building.
  • Outdoors (waste dumps): bait can be used at open-air waste-handling facilities, such as landfill sites.
  • Sewers.

Buildings vs open areas

There is not a specific distance away from a building where bait points stop being considered as ‘around buildings’ and begins to be considered to be ‘open areas’. However, baits can only be used within the ‘outdoors (around buildings)’ label scenario when it is either known that the rodents being treated outdoors are entering the building or it is reasonably anticipated that they may do so.

Difenacoum and bromadiolone are the only SGARs that have professional products permitted for use in ‘outdoors (open areas)’ sites. Please note that not all products containing these actives are permitted for use in ‘outdoors (open areas)’ sites, only specific ones – please ensure you check individual product labels.

Please note: Authorisation for use of products containing difenacoum and/or bromadiolone in ‘outdoors (open areas)’ sites will be withdrawn during 2024.

Read: Upcoming changes to rodent control – what you need to know.

Professional products containing the remaining three SGARs (brodifacoum, difethialone and flocoumafen) only have authorisation to be used either indoors, outdoors (around buildings) or both or in sewers.

Look out for labels

Two other important phrases may be found on some product labels:

Rodent burrows – bait may be placed directly into burrows in all of the five areas listed above, but only when the product label says that this is permissible.

Permanent baiting – some bromadiolone, difenacoum and cholecalciferol baits can be used for permanent baiting. This is when there is no existing rodent infestation but the professional in charge of the site believes it has a high potential for reinvasion and other methods of control have proven insufficient.

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