Photo IDs needed for ammonium nitrate fertiliser

Ammonium nitrate stacked up in a storehouse

Following a change in the law last year growers will need to provide photo identification before they can purchase AN (ammonium nitrate) fertiliser.

A widening of the Control of Poisons and Explosives Precursors Regulations 2023 affected sales of AN fertilisers with a nitrogen content of 16% or more from 1 October 2023 onwards.

New verification requirements apply to compounds, blends and mixtures such as NPK fertilisers that exceed the AN threshold regardless of the overall nitrogen content. It also applies to CAN (Calcium Ammonium Nitrate) and potassium nitrate.

Key points to help you prepare

The photo ID doesn't need to be a passport or driving licence. You will need to record the type of business and VAT number if the business has one.

At this stage, we don’t believe you’ll have to present photo ID in person – sending via email, text or another app will suffice – as long as it matches the name of the person placing the order or account holder if an individual. 

The ID provided can be of anyone in the farm business who is tasked with making the purchase, and verification will be kept on record and will need to be updated every 18 months in the case of professional users, or if there is a change to a usual order.

“Farmers need to be aware of this new regulation so that they can work with their suppliers to ensure it doesn't cause problems with purchases.”

NFU Crops Board chair Matt Culley

After raising concerns about the potential for this to be another barrier to placing an order in a fertiliser market which is still in a state of flux, we’ve had assurances that there should be no requirement to provide the ID to place the order – it can be sent over afterwards.

If there are multiple people in a farm business, it should only need one person to provide the ID on behalf of that business. As there are many and varied scenarios where this could apply, we cannot give comprehensive examples of how this will work, but if someone is seeking to buy fertiliser on behalf of others, the key test is likely to be who is acquiring the fertiliser on delivery. If you’re buying on behalf of a group, a photo ID belonging to someone from the farm the fertiliser will be delivered to is likely be required by the merchant.

The photo ID will be kept on file by the merchant in accordance with their data security and storage policies. All standard GDPR and legal requirements for the safe storage of your personal data will apply.

Changes could affect farmers nationwide

NFU Crops Board Chair Matt Culley said: "The NFU has stressed the importance of ensuring additional measures such as this do not put barriers in place that disrupt a grower's ability to purchase important crop nutrients, especially during times of urgency to get fertiliser on farm and applied within the appropriate timeframe.

“Farmers need to be aware of this new regulation so that they can work with their suppliers to ensure it doesn't cause problems with purchases.”

The changes have been the subject of considerable lobbying from fertiliser trade association the AIC (Agricultural Industries Confederation), which has said that ‘tens of thousands’ of farmers could be caught out by the change.

AIC Head of Fertiliser Jo Gilbertson said: “While we will always support efforts to further minimise the public safety risks of fertiliser falling into the wrong hands, the government has failed to understand how ammonium nitrate products are bought and sold within agriculture."

The NFU has been working with the wider supply chain to explore the possibility of earned recognition to reduce the burden on members. We want to ensure the safe use of fertilisers, however, we have made the case that there are already many industry, Red Tractor and FIAS (Fertiliser Industry Assurance Scheme) procedures around the purchase, storage and application of fertiliser. 

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This page was first published on 04 September 2023. It was updated on 30 January 2024.

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