Frequently asked questions - Growsafe

What certification do I need to use agrichemicals?

Do I need a Growsafe certificate?

There are a number of different training and certification requirements for users of agrichemicals:
  1. Under the Health and Safety at Work Act and associated regulations, all users of hazardous substances must be trained in their use.   Whilst there is no specific certification requirement, the Growsafe certificates have been designed to meet the requirements set out in the regulations.
  2. Also, Growsafe certificates are one way to meet the requirements of the EPA for the use of highly ecotoxic substances.  EPA requirements depend on the level of risk by considering the equipment used, distance from sensitive areas etc.  
  3. In addition, many regional councils require commercial users of agrichemicals to hold Growsafe certificates.  The RMA/regional plan section of our Resources page provides details of the requirements in each region.  Even if a plan doesn't specifically require Growsafe certification, it is likely to require compliance with NZS8409: Management of Agrichemicals.  A Growsafe course will provide you with the information you need.
  4. Most quality assurance schemes, such as NZGAP, require evidence of Growsafe certification.

The Growsafe certificates have been designed to meet all the training and certification requirements of WorkSafe, EPA, regional councils and industry.  It's the easy way to meet all your requirements.

Any other reason why should I get a Growsafe certificate?

Agrichemicals are an important part of our production systems, but we are increasingly being questioned about the use of agrichemicals on food and in the environment.  If we want to maintain the ability to use agrichemicals in a practical way, we all need to do our bit to illustrate that we are using them in a safe and responsible manner.  It is one thing to have confidence in your own skills and experience, but these days you need proof.  A Growsafe certificate is credible evidence for your customers, and the authorities, that you are meeting your obligations, and understand and use agrichemicals in a responsible and professional way.

So which certificate should I get?

A Growsafe Basic certificate is for first-time users and people operating under supervision whereas the Standard certificate is for those who have responsibility for a workplace and/or staff.  We recommend that all staff using agrichemicals do at least the Basic course and that at least one person per workplace holds a Standard certificate.  We've developed a decision tree to help you out or see our Certificates page for more information.  There is also a range of specialist certificates for contractors, calibrators etc.

What is the difference between a Growsafe Basic certificate and a Growsafe Standard certificate, and how do these compare to the Growsafe Introductory certificate?

The Introductory certificate was withdrawn on 31 December 2017 and replaced by the Basic and Standard certificates.   Whilst the content of the Standard certificate is similar to that of the Introductory course, the assessment requirements are more challenging.  The content of the Basic course is significantly less than the Introductory course and the assessment easier. If you have an Introductory certificate, you can choose to renew at either the Basic or Standard level.

If your regional plan requires you to hold a Growsafe Introductory certificate as part of the permitted activity activity conditions of agrichemical use, then you should hold a Growsafe Standard (or higher) certificate, or be working under the supervision of someone with this certificate.

Do I need a Certified Handler certificate?

It is a legal requirement for highly toxic (class 6.1A and 6.1B) substances to be under the control of a Certified Handler.  Other people can handle these agrichemicals if they are instructed and under the supervision of a Certified Handler.  Note that many holders of Approved Handler will not need to obtain the Certified Handler certificate, and a Growsafe certificate will be sufficient for regulatory compliance as well as market requirements. See our FAQs for more information on Certified Handler certification .

What is the difference between a Growsafe certificate and a Certified Handler certificate?

Certified Handler certification is managed by WorkSafe and certificates are issued by Compliance Certifiers.  Growsafe certificates are issued by the New Zealand Agrichemical Education Trust (NZAET) and are recognised by most industry and regulatory organisations such as EPA, regional councils, quality assurance schemes and export organisations.

Do I need a Growsafe certificate if I use a contractor for most of my spraying?

If you do not use any products with hazard classifications, there are no requirements under EPA or WorkSafe.  Note however that there may still be requirements under your regional plan which will usually cover all agrichemical use without limiting it to chemicals with hazard classifications.

In most cases, however, if you do your own herbicide spraying you will be using a product with a hazard classification.  So there is a WorkSafe requirement for training - though no specific certification.  Some herbicides will trigger EPA requirements due to high ecotoxicity.  If so, and they are used with motorised equipment, then a Growsafe certificate or equivalent is required.  Again, there may be a regional plan requirement to be certified - this may depend on the type of equipment you are using, or how close you are to water or sensitive areas - each plan is different.  

On a different note, many quality assurance schemes such as NZGAP will require you to hold a Growsafe Standard certificate so that you are aware of the potential impact of herbicides on MRLs or plant health, and also your responsibilities when you use a contractor.   Under the Health and Safety at Work Act, as the owner/manager of a workplace, you cannot opt out of all responsibility for health and safety simply because you employ a contractor.  You have a responsibility to discuss and agree the spray plan, ensure the contractor is qualified , brief them on safety issues relevant to your property, manage the notification process etc.  A Growsafe certificate will also ensure that you understand the spray application process and can discuss requirements with your contractor effectively.  

Do I need a Growsafe certificate if I am an organic grower?

If you do not use any products with hazard classifications, there are no requirements under EPA or WorkSafe.  Note however that there may still be requirements under your regional plan which will usually cover all agrichemical use without limiting it to chemicals with hazard classifications.

Note that copper sprays are widely used in organic spraying.  There are many different formulations of copper products but most (if not all) have hazard classifications - both for human health and ecotoxicity - and are usually being sprayed in a wide dispersive manner (for example, airblast sprayer).  So, risks to the user, neighbours, bees, MRLs etc still exist and need to be managed.  Growsafe certification is evidence that you are aware of these risks and know how to manage them appropriately.

What certificate do I need to buy agrichemicals?

For agrichemicals with class 6.1A or 6.1B hazard classification, you need to provide a copy of your Certified Handler certificate.  For some other classes, such as 6.1C, 6.7A and 8.2A you are required to provide evidence of competency in the use of agrichemicals and confirm they will be used in the workplace (not domestically).  There can also be product specific restrictions which should be written on the label (though you can ignore generic requirements to hold an Approved Handler for ecotoxic products used in a wide dispersive manner).  Your Growsafe Standard certificate is sufficient evidence of competency.  We have developed a decision tree to assist retailers.  

Certificates - Administration

I completed my course successfully but haven't received my certificate(s).

Certificates usually take about 2 weeks to be issued after course requirements have been completed.  If you have not received your certificate(s), contact your trainer first to check that you successfully completed all the requirements of the course and that your results have been submitted for processing.

I've lost my Growsafe certificate, how can I get a new one?  I can't remember my Growsafe certificate number, how can I find it out?

Email your details (full name and date of birth) to or ring us on 0508 476 972 and leave your details.  You will be sent a pdf of your certificate for no cost.

How long is a certificate valid?

A certificate is valid for 5 years.

Growsafe courses

Can I arrange an in-house Growsafe course for my staff?

If you have a number of staff who need to do a Growsafe course, an in-house course is recommended.  The on-site training can be tailored to your operation and can help you to meet your obligations to train staff in workplace procedures and the specific agrichemicals your staff use.  Contact one or more Growsafe trainers near you to discuss the options and price.

How much does it cost to attend a Growsafe course?

The cost of Growsafe courses is set by the trainer/provider delivering the course.  Contact trainers in your area to find out what they charge.  Ask about any additional charges for Certified Handler or unit standards (if available).

Approved Handler certificates

I've lost my Approved Handler certificate, how can I get a new one?

Note that the Approved Handler scheme was replaced by the Certified Handler scheme on 1 December 2017.  So you may not need to renew your Approved Handler as requirements have changed.

Approved Handler certificates were issued by Test Certifiers (not Growsafe).   If you did not do your Approved Handler certificate through a Growsafe course we cannot help you.  If you can remember the name of your Test Certifier, contact them for a replacement certificate.  There is a list of current Compliance Certifiers on the WorkSafe website which may jog your memory.  Or you can try ringing WorkSafe on 0800 030 040 - although they will be unable to issue you with a certificate, they may be able to tell you who your Test Certifier was and the expiry date of your certificate.

If you did your Approved Handler certificate through a Growsafe course, then your Growsafe Trainer will know the name of your Test Certifier (or may also be your Test Certifier).   Ring us on 0508 GROWSAFE or email us on and we can tell you who your Growsafe trainer was and how to contact them.

If you renewed online from February 2015, then email us at and we will be able to provide a copy of your certificate.  If you renewed online prior to this (through FarmSafe), then we do not have details of your Approved Handler certificate.   Unfortunately, FarmSafe is no longer operating, nor is the Test Certifier who issued their certificates.  Your best option is to try WorkSafe as noted above.


I don't have a Growsafe certificate, only an Approved Handler certificate.  Can I renew online?

Growsafe does not recognise Approved Handler certificates as equivalent to Growsafe certificates for renewal purposes, as the process for renewing these certificates varied substantially and in some cases was not up to Growsafe standards (one of the reasons for the demise of the scheme in late 2017).  For example, many renewals only required evidence of knowledge of changes to regulations, not demonstration of  current competency.  There are also differences in the content of the certificates.

Some people did a Growsafe course some years ago and got both a Growsafe and Approved Handler certificate but then only renewed the Approved Handler.  If this is your situation, you will need to attend a course to gain your Growsafe certificate.

How much does it cost to attend a Growsafe recertification course?

The cost of Growsafe courses is set by the trainer/provider delivering the course.  Contact trainers in your area to find out what they charge.  Ask about any additional charges for Certified Handler or unit standards (if available).

I'm having problems renewing my certificate online, who should I ring?

First refer to the information on online renewal.  If you still have queries, please call us on 0508 476 9723 or email us at

Can I renew my certificate if it has expired?

Our policy is that you can renew your certificate if is less than 12 months overdue (6 months for online renewal).  To renew, you must attend the face-to-face course.  However, note that many industries have a zero tolerance policy for certification under their quality assurance schemes in which case you must renew on or before the date your certificate expires.



In conjunction with Standards New Zealand, the New Zealand Agrichemical Education Trust published NZS8409:2021 Management of Agrichemicals. This Standard is the base reference resource for agrichemical users and suppliers and underpins all Growsafe training programmes. For further information, see the FAQs for NZS8409 .



I am a retailer selling agrichemicals.  Do I need a Growsafe certificate? Or Certified Handler?

There are no requirements under the RMA for suppliers of agrichemicals and you do not need a Growsafe certificate.  However, there is a recommended qualification for retailers called Growsafe Supplier which is a higher level certification.  Under the HSW Act, it is likely that your store will need at least one Certified Handler.  This Compliance Certificate needs to cover the classes and quantities of hazardous goods found in the retail store, which may include agrichemicals, oxidisers, flammable products etc.  It also needs to cover the appropriate lifecycles (for example, storage).  It does not need to cover use.

Note: the Growsafe Standard course covers the knowledge requirements for Certified Handler for agrichemicals but not for other classes of hazardous goods and not for large quantities so may not be appropriate to your needs.  However, the Standard certificate is a prerequisite for the Growsafe Supplier certificate so a good place to start training.  Under the HSW Act, you may also need a Location Compliance Certificate (previously Location Test Certificate) if you store large quantities of Class 2 or 3 flammable product.  Not many agrichemicals are Class 2 or 3, but other products in a rural retail store may be.

If you are selling agrichemicals, you should be aware of the new rules regarding evidence of competency required for the purchase of some classes of agrichemicals.  We've prepared a decision tree to help you with this process.  You are welcome to print this out for your store.

My neighbour is spraying and I am concerned about spraydrift onto my property.  What should I do?

In the first instance you should contact the neighbour and discuss the problem.  If this does not lead to resolution of the issue, contact the Incident Response Manager at your regional council.  All regional plans require the sprayer to ensure either that there is no spraydrift or at least there are no adverse effects from spraydrift.  If you believe there has been a spraydrift, you need to collect evidence such as photos or video of the spraying activities, photos of any negative impact, records of weather such as photo of windsock or anenometer reading.  You may also wish to take samples from plants that have been affected and keep them in airtight bags for possible future analysis.

Can I get recognition for a certificate in agrichemical use gained overseas?

Unfortunately we are unable to recognise certificates gained overseas.  While there will be some overlap in content such as practical skills, there is also a significant gap in content.  The Growsafe Standard certificate includes understanding of New Zealand legislation, regulations and Code of Practice.  Understanding the responsibilities of agrichemical users under this legislative framework is a key part of the Growsafe Standard course.

How old do I have to be to get a Growsafe certificate?

Legally you cannot use hazardous substances if you are under the age of 15.  So you must be 15 years old to obtain a Growsafe Basic certificate.   Because the Growsafe Standard is certifying that you are competent to take responsibility for a workplace, you must usually be 18 years old to obtain a Growsafe Standard certificate.   However, exemptions can be made to this in certain circumstances - talk with your trainer.