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Registration triggers for fertilizers and supplements

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Effective October 26, 2020, the amended Fertilizers Regulations are in force. Regulated parties can comply with either the "new" regulations or the "old" regulations for a period of 3 years. This applies to the manufacture, sale, import or export of fertilizers and supplements regulated under the Fertilizers Act.

New regulatory requirements (as of October 26, 2020)

Purpose

The purpose of this document is to provide general guidance to applicants on the registration status/triggers for fertilizers and supplements regulated under the Fertilizer Act.

Registration under the Fertilizers Act

All fertilizers and supplements when sold or imported into Canada are regulated under the federal Fertilizers Act and regulations. Pursuant to these regulations, the products must be safe with respect to plant, animal, human health and the environment, and properly labelled to ensure safe and appropriate use.

A fertilizer is defined in the Fertilizers Act as any substance or mixture of substances, containing nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium or other plant food, manufactured, sold or represented for use as a plant nutrient

A supplement is defined as any substance or mixture of substances, other than a fertilizer, that is manufactured, sold or represented for use in the improvement of the physical condition of soils or to aid plant growth or crop yields

Some fertilizers and most supplements are subject to mandatory pre-market assessment and registration by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) prior to importation and sale in Canada.

As part of product assessments, CFIA officials evaluate the safety information/data and review the label to verify product compliance with the act, regulations and prescribed standards. Please note that all ingredients in the product (both active and inert) as well as the potential contaminants and degradation products are considered when reviewing product safety.

All regulated products, including those requiring registration and those exempt from registration, must meet prescribed standards for safety and labelling before they can be imported or sold in Canada. In addition to pre-market assessment and registration, product compliance is verified by CFIA area staff through inspections, product sampling and analysis, and marketplace label verification. Non-compliant products are subject to enforcement actions which may include product detention, and in cases of severe and/or repeated non-compliance, prosecution.

Determining the regulatory status of a product under the Fertilizers Act and regulations largely depends on how the product is represented in the marketplace. This includes nutrient sources, guarantees and/or product grades. All fertilizers and supplements imported into or sold in Canada require registration unless they meet one or more of the exemptions provided for in the Fertilizers Regulations.

Fertilizers exempt from registration

The following fertilizers are exempt from registration (except seeds or growing media)

  • (a) a fertilizer that does not contain:
    • a substance produced by or derived from a living organism
    • a pesticide
    • a supplement that is not registered and is not set out in the List of Primary Fertilizer and Supplement Materials
    • a registered supplement, if the directions for use of the product are not consistent with those of the registered supplement
    • a micronutrient fertilizer that is not registered, and
    • a registered micronutrient fertilizer, if the directions for use of the product are not consistent with those of the registered micronutrient fertilizer
  • (b) a fertilizer that is set out in the List of Materials
  • (c) a customer-formula fertilizer and
  • (d) a fertilizer whose active ingredient consists solely of a mixture of fertilizers or fertilizers and supplements, if those fertilizers and supplements are exempt from registration or are registered for the proposed use of the mixture.

Supplements exempt from registration

The following supplements are exempt from registration, (except seeds or growing media):

  • (a) a supplement set out in the List of Materials and
  • (b) a supplement whose active ingredients consist solely of supplements, if
    • each supplement in the mixture is exempt from registration or is registered for the proposed use of the mixture and
    • in the case of a mixture containing one or more viable microorganisms as active ingredients, the mixture is not further cultured or manipulated

Seed and growing media

Seedsthat are treated with fertilizers, supplements, or both are exempt from registration if each of those fertilizers or supplements is either

  • Exempt from registration
  • Registered for that specific use

Growing media may include potting soils, liquid media, coco coir, wood fibers, peat moss, vermiculite, clay, pumice, and perlite

A growing medium that contains fertilizers or supplements or both is exempt form registration if each of those fertilizers or supplements is either exempt from registration or registered for that use, and is consistent with the direction for use of that media.

Triggers flow-charts

Consult the diagrams in below to determine if your product is exempt from registration. If you are still not sure if a product is exempt from registration after consulting the diagram, you can submit an inquiry (IQ) to the CFIA.

The inquiry service is available to assist companies in understanding regulatory requirements, and to give clearer guidance on the type of information/data that will be required to support product registration. Applicants should consult the checklist of information required for an IQ to ensure that the CFIA has the information it needs to provide an accurate and timely response. An evaluator will review the submitted information and provide a comprehensive response within 30 working days of receipt of the inquiry, as per published Service Delivery Standards. There is no charge for the inquiry process.

If a product does not meet an exemption, registration must be obtained before the product can be legally sold or imported in the Canadian marketplace.

The sale and importation of a non-compliant fertilizer or supplement product is considered a contravention under the Fertilizers Act, and may be subject to enforcement action.

Registration requirements for fertilizers

Registration requirements for fertilizers. Description follows
Description of flowchart – Registration requirements for fertilizers

The table below outlines when a fertilizer must be registered as shown in the flowchart image above

Fertilizer type On list of primary fertilizer and supplement materials Origin The pesticide and its proposed use comply with requirements of the Pest Control Products Act (PCPA) Formula Register or exempt
Micronutrient n/a n/a n/a n/a Register
Customer formula n/a n/a n/a n/a Exempt
Commercial (soil)
Home and Garden (soil) Hydroponics and other (non – soil)
yes n/a n/a n/a Exempt
Commercial (soil)
Home and Garden (soil) Hydroponics and other (non – soil)
no plant or animal origin n/a n/a Register
Commercial (soil)
Home and Garden (soil) Hydroponics and other (non – soil)
no not plant or animal origin n/a n/a Exempt
Contains or is a pesticide n/a n/a yes Customer formula Exempt
Contains or is a pesticide n/a n/a yes Not customer formula Register
Contains or is a pesticide n/a n/a no n/a Refuse registration
Mixture n/a n/a n/a n/a Go to "mixtures"

Registration requirements for supplements

Registration requirements for supplements. Description follows
Description of flowchart – Registration requirements for supplements

The table below outlines when a supplement must be registered as shown in the flowchart image above

On list of materials Contains or is a pesticide The pesticide and its proposed use comply with requirements of the Pest Control Products Act Register of exempt
Yes n/a n/a Exempt
No n/a n/a Register
n/a Yes Yes Register
n/a Yes No Refuse registration

For mixtures, please go to: "Registration requirements for mixtures".

Registration requirements for mixtures

Registration requirements for mixtures. Description follows
Description of flowchart – Registration requirements for mixtures

The table below outlines when a mixture must be registered as shown in the flowchart image above

Ingredients The mixture contain viable microorganisms The product is further cultured or manipulated once mixed Register or exempt
All ingredients exempt or registered for the purpose of the mixture yes yes Register
All ingredients exempt or registered for the purpose of the mixture yes no Exempt
All ingredients exempt or registered for the purpose of the mixture no n/a Exempt
All ingredients are not exempt or are not registered for the purpose of the mixture n/a n/a Register

Registration requirements for products containing seeds

Registration requirements for products containing seeds. Description follows
Description of flowchart – Registration requirements for products containing seeds

The flowchart shows when fertilizers or supplements containing seeds require registration:

  • Fertilizer or supplement that is registered for the proposed use for example registered for use with seeds and directions for use are consistent with final treated seeds, is exempt from registration
  • Fertilizer or supplement that is registered but not for the proposed use for example not registered for use with seeds and directions for use are not consistent with final treated seeds, must be registered
  • Fertilizer or supplement that is exempt from registration and contains seeds, is exempt from registration
  • Fertilizer or supplement that is not exempt from registration and contains seeds, must be registered

Registration requirements for products containing growing media

Registration requirements for products containing growing media. Description follows
Description of flowchart – Registration requirements for products containing growing media

The flowchart shows when fertilizers or supplements containing growing media require registration:

  • Fertilizer or supplement that is registered for the proposed use for example registered for use in growing media and directions for use are consistent with final treated growing media, is exempt from registration
  • Fertilizer or supplement that is registered but not for the proposed use for example not registered for use in growing media and directions for use are not consistent with final treated growing media, must be registered
  • Fertilizer or supplement that is exempt from registration and contains growing media, is exempt from registration
  • Fertilizer or supplement that is not exempt from registration and contains growing media, must be registered

Contact information

Fertilizer Safety Section
c/o Pre-market Application Submissions Office (PASO)
Canadian Food Inspection Agency
59 Camelot Drive
Ottawa, ON K1A 0Y9
Canada
Phone: 1-855-212-7695
Fax: 613-773-7115
Email: cfia.paso-bpdpm.acia@inspection.gc.ca

Old regulatory requirements (until October 26, 2023)

All fertilizers and supplements when sold or imported into Canada are regulated under the federal Fertilizers Act (FzA) and Regulations (FzR). Pursuant to these Regulations, the products must be safe with respect to plant, animal, human health and the environment, and properly labelled to ensure safe and appropriate use.

A fertilizer is defined in the Fertilizers Act as "any substance or mixture of substances, containing nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium or other plant food, manufactured, sold or represented for use as a plant nutrient", whereas a supplement is defined as "any substance or mixture of substances, other than a fertilizer, that is manufactured, sold or represented for use in the improvement of the physical condition of soils or to aid plant growth or crop yields."

Some fertilizers and most supplements are subject to mandatory pre-market assessment and registration by the Fertilizer Safety Section of the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA), which is responsible for administering the Fertilizers Act and Regulations. As part of product assessment, CFIA officials evaluate safety information/data and review the label to verify product compliance with the Act, Regulations and prescribed standards. Please note that all ingredients in the product (both active and inert) as well as the potential contaminants and degradation products are considered when reviewing product safety.

All regulated products, including those requiring registration and those exempt from registration, in the Canadian marketplace must meet all the prescribed standards. Product compliance is verified by CFIA area staff through inspections, product sampling and analysis, and marketplace label verification. Non-compliant products are subject to enforcement actions which may include product detention, and in cases of severe and/or repeated non-compliance, prosecution. Determining the regulatory categorization of a product under the Fertilizers Act and Regulations largely depends on label claims (i.e. how the product is represented in the marketplace). This includes nutrient sources, guarantees and/or product grades.

The following types of products are exempt from registration under the Fertilizers Act and Regulations:

  1. Customer-formula fertilizers which contain a pesticide registered under the Pest Control Products Act for the purpose stated on the label [Section 3.1(1) Fertilizers Regulations].
  2. Single ingredient fertilizers and supplements that are listed in Schedule II of the Fertilizers Regulations [Section 3.1 (3)(a) Fertilizers Regulations].
  3. Mixed farm fertilizers that contain nutrients in a mineral form (obtained by extraction or by physical or chemical processes) and that do not contain pesticides [Section 3.1(3)(b) Fertilizers Regulations].
  4. Supplements sold only for correction of soil acidity or alkalinity [Section 3.1(3)(c) Fertilizers Regulations]
  5. Supplements that consist of seeds that are treated with a fertilizer or a supplement that: (i) is exempt from registration, or (ii) is registered, and whose label indicates that it is for use in treating seeds [Section 3.1(3)(d) Fertilizers Regulations]
  6. Peat, peat moss, sphagnum moss, tree bark and other fibrous organic matter that is represented for use only in improving the physical conditions of the soil [Section 3.1(3)(e) Fertilizers Regulations]
  7. Customer-formula fertilizers (prepared in accordance with a written formula that sets forth the name, amount and analysis of each ingredient, the fertilizer grade of the total mixture and the signature of the person for whose use for fertilizer purposes it has been prepared) [Section 3.1 (3)(f) Fertilizers Regulations].
  8. Specialty fertilizers (a fertilizer recommended for use only on household plants, urban gardens, lawns or golf courses or in nurseries or greenhouses) [Section 3.1(3)(g) Fertilizers Regulations].
  9. Potting soils that contain a fertilizer or a supplement that: (i) is exempt from registration, or (ii) is registered, and whose label indicates that it is for use in potting soils [Section 3.1(3)(h) Fertilizers Regulations].

Consult the diagrams below to determine if a product is exempt from registration. If still not sure if a product is exempt from registration after consulting the diagram, you can submit an Inquiry to the CFIA's Fertilizer Safety Section. The Inquiry service is provided to assist companies in understanding regulatory requirements, and to give clearer guidance on the type of information/data that will be required to support product registration. An evaluator will review the submitted information and provide a comprehensive list of requirements within 30 working days of receipt of the Inquiry, as per published Service Delivery Standards. There is no charge for the inquiry process. A list of information required to accompany a submitted inquiry can be found on CFIA website.

If a product does not meet an exemption, registration must be obtained before the product can be legally sold or imported in the Canadian marketplace.

The sale and importation of a non-compliant fertilizer or supplement product is considered a contravention under the Fertilizers Act, and may be subject to enforcement action.

Fertilizer

Registration requirements for single and mixed ingredient fertilizers

Click on image for larger view
Registration requirements for single and mixed ingredient fertilizers. Description follows.

  1. Any product that meets the definition of a pest control product under PCPA ((a) a product, an organism or a substance, including a product, an organism or a substance derived through biotechnology, that consists of its active ingredient, formulants and contaminants, and that is manufactured, represented, distributed or used as a means for directly or indirectly controlling, destroying, attracting or repelling a pest or for mitigating or preventing its injurious, noxious or troublesome effects; (b) an active ingredient that is used to manufacture anything described in paragraph (a); or (c) any other thing that is prescribed to be a pest control product.) including conventional pesticides and products with pesticidal mode of action.
  2. Single ingredient fertilizer vs mixed ingredients fertilizer, excluding inert formulants where inert formulants is defined as any substance or mixture of substances, other than an active ingredient, that is intentionally added to a fertilizer or supplement as a filler or to improve its physical characteristics, such as sprayability or spreadability.
Description for Registration requirements for single and mixed ingredient fertilizers

The table below outlines when a fertilizer must be registered as shown in the flowchart image above

Nutrients Ingredients Use Formula Form Register
or
Exempt
Only N, P, or K;
Only Ca, Mg, or S;
NPK+Ca, Mg, S, B, Cl, Cu, Fe, Mn, Mo, Zn
Mixed ingredient Table Note 2 For Farm Use Not Customer formula Nutrients in Mineral form Exempt
(FzR 3.1(3)(b))
Only N, P, or K;
Only Ca, Mg, or S;
NPK+Ca, Mg, S, B, Cl, Cu, Fe, Mn, Mo, Zn
Mixed ingredient Table Note 2 For Farm Use Not Customer formula Nutrients in non-mineral form, or mineral and non-mineral form Register
(Farm fertilizer)
Only N, P, or K;
Only Ca, Mg, or S;
NPK+Ca, Mg, S, B, Cl, Cu, Fe, Mn, Mo, Zn
Mixed ingredient Table Note 2 For Farm Use Customer formula n/a Exempt
(FzR 3.1(1))
Only N, P, or K;
Only Ca, Mg, or S;
NPK+Ca, Mg, S, B, Cl, Cu, Fe, Mn, Mo, Zn
Mixed ingredient Table Note 2 For lawns, household plants, golf courses, greenhouses, nurseries or urban gardens only n/a n/a Exempt
(FzR 3.1(3)(g))

The table below outlines when a fertilizer must be registered as shown in the flowchart image above

Nutrients Ingredients Schedule II Use Register
or
Exempt
Only N, P, or K;
Only Ca, Mg, or S;
NPK+Ca, Mg, S, B, Cl, Cu, Fe, Mn, Mo, Zn
Single ingredient Table Note 2 In Schedule II n/a Exempt
(FzR 3.1(3)(a))
Only N, P, or K;
Only Ca, Mg, or S;
NPK+Ca, Mg, S, B, Cl, Cu, Fe, Mn, Mo, Zn
Single ingredient Table Note 2 Not in Schedule II Use include Farm/Agricultural Register
(Farm fertilizer)
Only N, P, or K;
Only Ca, Mg, or S;
NPK+Ca, Mg, S, B, Cl, Cu, Fe, Mn, Mo, Zn
Single ingredient Table Note 2 Not in Schedule II For lawns, household plants, golf courses, greenhouses, nurseries or urban gardens only Exempt
(FzR 3.1(3)(g))
Ca, Mg, S + B, Cl, Cu, Fe, Mn, Mo, Zn only
or
B, Cl, Cu, Fe, Mn, Mo, Zn only
n/a n/a n/a Register (Micronutrient)
Nutrient guarantee(s) + pesticide Table Note 1 guarantee or pest control claims Customer-formula n/a n/a Exempt
(FzR 3.1(1))
Nutrient guarantee(s) + pesticide Table Note 1 guarantee or pest control claims Not Customer-formula n/a n/a Register (Fertilizer-pesticide)

Table Notes

Table note 1

Any product that meets the definition of a pest control product under PCPA ((a) a product, an organism or a substance, including a product, an organism or a substance derived through biotechnology, that consists of its active ingredient, formulants and contaminants, and that is manufactured, represented, distributed or used as a means for directly or indirectly controlling, destroying, attracting or repelling a pest or for mitigating or preventing its injurious, noxious or troublesome effects; (b) an active ingredient that is used to manufacture anything described in paragraph (a); or (c) any other thing that is prescribed to be a pest control product.) including conventional pesticides and products with pesticidal mode of action.

Return to table note 1  referrer

Table note 2

Single ingredient fertilizer vs mixed ingredients fertilizer, excluding inert formulants where inert formulants is defined as any substance or mixture of substances, other than an active ingredient, that is intentionally added to a fertilizer or supplement as a filler or to improve its physical characteristics, such as sprayability or spreadability.

Return to table note 2  referrer

Supplements

Registration requirements for supplements

Click on image for larger view
Registration requirements for supplements. Description follows.

Description for Registration requirements for supplements

The table below outlines when a supplement must be registered as shown in the flowchart image above

Ingredients Use Register or Exempt
Non-viable product for the improvement of plant growth, crop yield, or the physical condition of the soil not associated with a recognized plant nutrient; non-nutrient guarantees Listed in Schedule II Exempt
(FzR 3.1(3)(a,c,e)
Non-viable product for the improvement of plant growth, crop yield, or the physical condition of the soil not associated with a recognized plant nutrient; non-nutrient guarantees Sold to solely adjust soil pH Exempt
(FzR 3.1(3)(a,c,e)
Non-viable product for the improvement of plant growth, crop yield, or the physical condition of the soil not associated with a recognized plant nutrient; non-nutrient guarantees Fibrous organic material only Exempt
(FzR 3.1(3)(a,c,e)
Non-viable product for the improvement of plant growth, crop yield, or the physical condition of the soil not associated with a recognized plant nutrient; non-nutrient guarantees Does not meet an exemption Register (supplement)
Product for the improvement of plant growth, crop yield or the physical condition of the soil containing live organisms Applied to soil, plants or seed Register (supplement)

Seeds and potting soils

Registration requirements for seeds and potting soils

Click on image for larger view
Registration requirements for seeds and potting soils. Description follows.

Description for Registration requirements for seeds and potting soils

The flowchart shows when seeds and potting soils require registration:

  • Seeds and potting soils that are treated with or contains an exempt or registered product (whose label indicates that it is for this use) are exempt (Exempt FzR 3.1(3)(d,h).
  • Seeds and potting soils that are treated with or contains a product requiring registration but is not registered for this use must be registered (as per Fertilizer / Supplement product).

Contact information

If you have any questions about this document, please contact:
Fertilizer Safety Section
c/o Pre-market Application Submissions Office (PASO)
Canadian Food Inspection Agency
59 Camelot Drive
Ottawa, ON K1A 0Y9
Canada
Phone: 1-855-212-7695
Fax: 613-773-7115
Email: cfia.paso-bpdpm.acia@inspection.gc.ca

Date modified: