Steps to exporting

If you're exporting organic products, you need to comply with the standard exporting requirements and meet requirements that are specific to organics. We've created a step-by-step process so you can see what's involved.

Follow the steps

Step 1

What you need to know

An overview of exporting organics from start to finish.

MPI administers an Official Organic Assurance Programme (OOAP) that covers exports of organic products to:

  • the European Union
  • Japan
  • Switzerland
  • Taiwan
  • USA.

These steps cover exports under the OOAP. For all countries not covered by the OOAP, you need to find out the exporting requirements for your organic product. We suggest you contact the Organic Exporters Association for support.

Organic products covered under the OOAP

Organic products that are usually covered by the OOAP include:

  • processed plant and animal products for human or animal consumption (for example, dairy products, wine, and fruit juices)
  • unprocessed plant products, animal products, and animals (for example, fruit and vegetables, seeds, and unprocessed raw wool).

Not all organic products are covered for all countries under the OOAP.

To export organic products, or supply them for export, under the OOAP you must:

  • comply with all regular exporting requirements for your product
  • register as an organic operator with an MPI-recognised third party agency (TPA) for the OOAP
  • understand the OOAP Standards and your destination markets' requirements
  • develop an organic management plan, have it verified by your TPA, and follow it
  • ensure all operators involved in producing your product are covered by the MPI organic standard OP3
  • register with MPI as an organic exporter or use a registered organic exporter
  • apply to MPI for an official organic assurance for your consignments (organic exporters only). This means:
    • have your consignment verified as eligible by your TPA (all markets)
    • have your consignment registered with MPI (all markets)
    • get a certificate issued by MPI (EU, Japan and Switzerland only)
    • get a certificate for exporting organic products to Taiwan from your TPA
  • pay any fees for registration and participation in the programme.

Organic operators

These are defined as those responsible for the day-to-day management of producing, processing, and handling organic products.

Organic exporters

Exporters are a type of organic operator under the OOAP. They must meet the same requirements as operators, as well as some additional export requirements.

Exports to Australia

Australia and New Zealand operate under a Trans-Tasman Mutual Recognition Arrangement. This usually means that goods that can be legally sold in New Zealand as organic, can also be sold in Australia as organic.

Exports to the European Union or Switzerland

Consignments that are eligible for an official organic assurance must be accompanied by a certificate issued by MPI.

If you are exporting organic products to the European Union (EU), consignments must have a Certificate of Inspection (COI) generated through the EU Trade Control and Expert System (TRACES).

If you are exporting organic products to Switzerland:

  • from 1 January 2018 until 31 December 2018, consignments may have either a COI generated through TRACES or issued on MPI letterhead
  • from 1 January 2019, consignments must have a COI generated through TRACES

Exports to Japan

If you are exporting plant products or processed products of plant origin to Japan, you may choose to export under the OOAP, but you do have other options.

Exports to Taiwan

Products must be certified to the OOAP Technical Rules of Production, except food additives and processing aids used in processed products must comply with Taiwanese lists.

For each consignment, you must have:

  • an official organic assurance (MPI won't issue a certificate)
  • a certificate issued by your TPA.

Exports to the USA

Products must be produced and certified to the US Department of Agriculture National Organic Program by an MPI-recognised TPA. You must have an official organic assurance for each consignment. MPI won't issue a certificate because the US government doesn't require one.

Step 2

What you need to do

The tasks you need to complete.

Comply with regular export requirements

Make sure you comply with the export requirements for your product type. For example, if you export organic wine, you also need to meet all requirements for conventional wine, whether New Zealand grape wine or fruit wine. Check the requirements page for your product type.

Register as an organic operator

Under the Official Organic Assurance Programme (OOAP) all operators involved in the production, processing and export of your product must be certified as an organic operator with an MPI-recognised TPA:

You will be charged for services by these agents.

Understand the OOAP standards and market requirements

You must be familiar with the MPI organic standards and the relevant organic overseas market access requirements (OMARs).

Under the OOAP, organic OMARs outline the requirements of your destination market.

Have a registered and verified organic management plan

Organic operators producing products for export under the OOAP must have an organic management plan that is registered and verified by an MPI-recognised TPA. This plan describes everything about your organic operation and activities, including:

  • conversion from conventional to organic production
  • production
  • processing
  • transport
  • storage
  • traceability
  • recall.

Organic exporters need an organic management plan that focuses on handling and traceability.

You need this plan to show how you will meet the OOAP standards and market requirements, and ensure products are eligible for export under the OOAP. Your TPA will evaluate the plan and your operations during regular on-site audits.

Follow your organic management plan

After your TPA certifies your operation, you must follow your organic management plan. If you want to make any changes to your plan, or do something differently, you must first discuss this with your TPA.

Report regularly to your TPA

You must report regularly to your TPA on your OOAP activities, including any non-conformances. Non-conformances include failing to meet requirements of:

  • your organic management plan
  • relevant OMARs.

If you don't conform, you can't export under the OOAP.

Register as an organic exporter or use a registered organic exporter

If you're exporting commercially, you must register as an organic exporter with MPI or use the services of a registered organic exporter. You can register as an exporter online or by completing a form.

To designate a registered exporter to apply for official organic assurances, use this form:

Download the designated operator and authorised persons for the OOAP form [DOCX, 61 KB]

Contact us if you have questions, or to let us know if your key people or contact details change, by emailing:

Non-commercial exporters don't usually have to register

If the purpose of your export is non-commercial, you don't have to register as an exporter or use the services of a registered exporter unless your shipper (airline or shipping company) asks you to.

Get an official organic assurance for your consignments

For exports to the EU, Japan, Switzerland, Taiwan (as of 1 January 2018), and the USA, you must complete an official organic assurance application form for each organic product consignment. Instructions are on the form.

Download the official organic assurance application form [XLS, 253 KB]

The information you put on the application form will be verified by your TPA.

If eligible, MPI will issue an official organic assurance. This means we'll:

  • register your organic product consignment
  • issue a certificate, if needed. 

We'll email to let you know:

  • that your consignment has been registered, or
  • that your official organic assurance is ready to collect (if this is your preferred delivery method), or
  • that your official organic assurance is being couriered to you, with a copy of the tracking reference.
Official organic assurance requirement for specific markets

There are specific requirements when exporting organics to the EU and Switzerland.

Step 3

How you know you're ready to export

Getting your export documentation.

Your organic products will be eligible for export when an MPI-recognised TPA has certified your operation as conforming to OOAP standards and relevant OMARs.

Your consignment is ready to export when you:

  • are registered as an organic exporter with MPI
  • have met all of the other regular export requirements for your product type
  • have an official organic assurance for each consignment, meaning:
    • your TPA has verified your consignment as eligible for an official organic assurance, and it has been registered by MPI
    • you have a certificate issued by MPI for exports to the EU, Switzerland, and Japan (if exporting through the OOAP), or
    • you have a certificate issued by your TPA for exports to Taiwan.

You may have to meet other non-MPI requirements. These might be commercial requirements or set by other government agencies such as the New Zealand Customs Service. It will also pay to check with the importing agent in your destination country.

When to alert MPI

As a food exporter you're responsible for telling MPI if your organic product for export:

  • fails to meet relevant organic overseas market access requirements (OMARs)
  • is stopped at an international border
  • doesn't have the required export documents – they have been removed or lost.

Who to contact

If you need to contact MPI about exporting organics, email info@mpi.govt.nz.

You can also call our help desk on 0800 00 83 33.

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