North Dakota Department of Agriculture

Fertilizer Registration and Licensing Guidelines


The North Dakota Department of Agriculture regulates fertilizer and soil amendment products through the authority provided by Chapter 19-20.1 of the North Dakota Century Code (N.D.C.C.).  The fertilizer law is primarily a consumer protection law, ensuring that labeling for fertilizer products accurately reflects product composition and the concentration of key ingredients.  N.D.C.C. 19-20.1 is also a licensing law, requiring certain businesses to be licensed to distribute and sell fertilizer products, thereby providing a level playing field for businesses and uniform regulatory oversight.  Therefore, the Department uses its statutory authority to regulate the registration, distribution, sale, and labeling of fertilizer products.


General Requirements

North Dakota Century Code (N.D.C.C.) 19-20.1-03 requires that all fertilizers, micronutrients, soil amendments, plant amendments, and specialty fertilizers be registered with the North Dakota Department of Agriculture prior to their distribution or offering for sale in the state.  The law defines “fertilizer” to mean, “…any substance containing one or more recognized plant nutrients which is used for its plant nutrient content and which is designed for use or claimed to have value in promoting plant growth, except unmanipulated animal and vegetable manures, marl, lime, limestone, wood ashes, and other products excluded by the commissioner by rule.”  The term “soil amendment” includes substances besides fertilizers, unmanipulated animal or vegetable manures, and pesticides that are intended to improve the characteristics of the soil.

Each brand and grade of a product must be registered by the person whose name appears on the label.  Registrants are required to inform the Department of all container sizes offered for sale for a given product.  Registrations cover a designated two-year period beginning July-first of every even-numbered year and ending June-thirtieth of the following even-numbered year. 

Each registration application must include:

  1.  A completed Application for Registration of Fertilizer (SFN 2842)
  2.  A copy of the product labeling (PDF)
  3.  Fertilizer registration fee ($50 per product)

Please note that the preferred format for submission of all fertilizer labels is portable document format (PDF) submitted online at, via email at, or on a compact disc.  If electronic versions of these documents are not available, applicants are asked to submit original, color hard copies of sufficient quality to scan.

The Department will review the fertilizer registration application for completeness and to ensure that the labeling meets minimum requirements.  Once the application is approved, the Department will provide a certificate of registration to the applicant.

Registration renewal applications are due July 31 following the registration expiration date.  Registrants who submit renewal applications after July 31 are subject to a late penalty fee of twenty-five dollars per product. The fertilizer registration application form can be found below. 

Proof of Effectiveness

The Department may require proof of claims made for the product covered by this chapter and may require proof of value to the user when used as directed or recommended.  The Department must rely on data from scientifically designed and reported studies conducted under conditions similar to those in this state.  The Department may accept or reject other sources or proof as additional evidence.  Testimonials are not considered proof and are not accepted.

Guaranteed Analysis

N.D.C.C. 19-20.1-03.4 requires that all fertilizer and specialty fertilizers sold in North Dakota have a guaranteed analysis on the label.  The guaranteed analysis must be in the following order and form:

  1. Total Nitrogen (N)____%
  2. Available Phosphate (P2O5)_________%
  3. Soluble Potash (K2O)__________%

The guarantees for any other nutrient must be expressed in the form of the element. The guaranteed analysis of a soil amendment or plant amendment must be an accurate statement of composition, including the percentages of each ingredient.

Product Name Changes

The Department is contacted frequently by registrants to update our registration records to reflect changes to a product name. This raises questions as to whether these changes require a new product registration.  Minor changes to a product name can be handled through updates to the Department's registration records.  The Department will use its discretion to determine when changes to the product name are significant enough to justify new registrations.

Licensing of Distributors

General Requirements

N.D.C.C. 19-20.1-03.1 prohibits any person from distributing a fertilizer, soil amendment, or plant amendment in North Dakota without first obtaining a fertilizer distributor's license from the Department.  A “distributor” is defined in N.D.C.C. 1-20.1 to mean any person who imports, consigns, manufactures, produces, compounds, mixes, blends, sells, or offers for sale a fertilizer, soil amendment, or plant amendment product in state.   A license must be obtained for each location or mobile mechanical unit used in North Dakota. 

A distributor's license is not required for those distributors selling only non-agricultural specialty fertilizers such as lawn and garden products. 

Some out of state firms manufacture and market fertilizer products to in-state companies that subsequently re-sell or blend the products.  Such out of state firms do not need a fertilizer distributor's license as long as they are not selling products directly to an end user and no manufacturing, mixing, blending, or other distribution occurs in the state.

A distributor's license covers a designated two -year period beginning July first of every even-numbered year and ending June thirty first of the following even-numbered year.  Licenses are not transferable, and a license certificate must be conspicuously posted at each location and must accompany each mobile mechanical unit in the state. The fertilizer distributors' license application can be found below. 

Each license application must include a completed Commercial Fertilizer Distributor's License Application (SFN 17990) and a fee of one hundred dollars. 

Changes to Company Name or Ownership

The Department is contacted frequently by license holders to update our records to reflect changes to a company name or ownership. This raises questions as to whether these changes require a new distributor's license.

Minor changes to the name of the company that are not based on changes in company ownership can be handled through updates to the Department's records.  The Department will use its discretion to determine when changes to a company name are significant enough to justify a new license.

N.D.C.C. 19-20.1-03.1 states that licenses are not transferable from one business to another.  This includes instances when a business changes ownership.   When there is a change to the ownership of a company, a new distributor's license is required.

Inspection Fees and Tonnage Reports

Each licensed distributor is required to submit an annual report to the Department listing the net tons of each fertilizer, soil amendment, or plant amendment sold or distributed in the state for a given calendar year and pay an inspection fee based on those tonnages.  The inspection fee is calculated based on twenty cents per ton, with a minimum fee of ten dollars. 

There are two exemptions to the annual reporting and inspection fee requirements: 1) sales and distributions of fertilizers, soil amendments, and plant amendments made to parties other than unlicensed end users, and 2) fertilizer products sold exclusively in packages of twenty five pounds or less.  When products are sold in different package sizes, inspection fees must only be paid on those packages over twenty five pounds. 

Inspection Fees for Specialty Fertilizers

Registrants of specialty fertilizers are required to submit an annual tonnage report and pay inspection fees on those specialty fertilizers distributed in package sizes over twenty five pounds.  When more than one person or business is involved with the distribution of a registered specialty fertilizer, the last person or business that registers the product and distributes it to a non- registrant is responsible for reporting the tonnage and paying the inspection fee.  If a specialty fertilizer retailer serves as the registrant, then the retailer would be responsible for paying annual inspection fees.

Late Fees for Tonnage Reports and Inspection Fees

Tonnage reports and inspection fees are due January 31 of each year to reflect the amount of product distributed the previous calendar year.  Each November, the Department mails out tonnage notices and Annual Fertilizer Tonnage Reports (SFN 17161) to licensed distributors and specialty fertilizer registrants who are subject to inspection fees.  Reports and fees received after January 31 are subject to a late fee of ten percent of the inspection fee, with a minimum of ten dollars.  A separate Annual Fertilizer Tonnage Report is required for each licensed entity.

Importing Fertilizers from Canada or Other Countries

N.D.C.C. 19-20.1 requires that any fertilizer, soil amendment, or plant amendment distributed in the state be registered with the Department.  The law also requires that distributors of such products, except for specialty fertilizers, hold a fertilizer distributor's license.  The term “distributor” as defined in N.D.C.C. 19-20.1 includes persons importing fertilizers, soil amendments, or plant amendments.

Therefore, all products being distributed or sold in North Dakota need to be registered, regardless of whether they are purchased at a local retailer, out of state, or in another country.  Persons can contact the Department with questions on a product's registration status or search the Department's online registration database at

Furthermore, any person importing a fertilizer, soil amendment, or plant amendment from Canada for subsequent re-sale is required to obtain a fertilizer distributor's license.  Growers and other persons importing these products for their own use are not required to obtain a distributor's license.

Last updated: September 23, 2010