Steps to importing

To import honey and bee food products you must either be registered as a food importer with MPI, or use a registered food importer. There are also other standards and requirements. We've created a step-by-step process to explain what's involved.


Follow the steps

Step1

What you need to know

An overview of importing honey and bee products from start to finish.

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To import honey and bee products successfully you need to know about:

Biosecurity requirements
  • ensuring your product is covered by an import health standard (IHS)
  • complying with the requirements of the IHS
  • having a permit to import (biosecurity permit), if needed
  • relevant legislation
  • arranging zoosanitary certificates and manufacturers' declarations, if needed
New Zealand Customs Service requirements
  • product prohibitions and restrictions
  • tariffs and permits
  • using a customs broker
Food Act requirements
  • food importer registration
  • general requirements of registered food importers – sourcing and keeping food safe and suitable, records, and recalls
  • the Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code, including labelling, composition and restricted foods
  • fees and charges that apply for services provided by MPI and other agencies.
Guides to help you
Additional requirements

Organic food, irradiated food, genetically modified food, and supplemented foods have additional requirements besides the Food Act. Learn more:

If you are importing honey, check that it's from a permitted country

Only honey from the following countries can be imported into New Zealand:

  • Niue
  • Pitcairn Island
  • Samoa
  • Tonga
  • Tuvalu
  • Solomon Islands.

This includes commercial consignments of honey and personal consignments of liquid honey. 

Are you using wood packaging?

If your consignment is shipped to New Zealand on wooden pallets, or wood has been used to package any part of your consignment, you'll also need to comply with the requirements for importing wood packaging.

Export goods returning to New Zealand

If you have New Zealand-origin bee products returning to New Zealand – for example, a consignment that has been rejected by an importing country – you'll need to meet the requirements of the IHS.

Exporters of honey and bee products or by-products are legally obliged to notify MPI if their export goods are returning to New Zealand and will be re-exported. You can use the export non-conformance report to do this.

Step2

What you need to do

The tasks you need to complete.

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Meet biosecurity requirements

You'll need to understand and comply with the biosecurity requirements for your honey or bee product.

Find the import health standard for your product

Biosecurity requirements are detailed in documents called import health standards (IHS). The IHS for your product will tell you what you need to do to successfully import it, including any treatment requirements, arranging a zoosanitary certificate or a manufacturer’s declaration, and getting a permit when required.  

Bee products from all countries (other than the Pitcairn Islands) that are not for pet food or processed in-flight meals are imported under a single IHS.

Honey and bee products that are from the Pitcairn Islands or used in pet food or in-flight meals use a different IHS.

Requesting to import your product under equivalent measures (equivalence)

If your product doesn't meet all of the IHS requirements (for example, it has been treated using a different method from the one listed in the IHS), you can ask MPI about assessing your product under equivalent measures.  This is known as 'equivalence'.

You'll need to supply information to show how the risks managed by the IHS will be managed to an equivalent level (for example, by providing information about treatment, cooking times, and temperatures, and other processing details).  

You'll need to provide MPI with supporting information as listed in each IHS. If your request is approved, MPI will issue a biosecurity permit for your product. To ask about equivalence, email animal.imports@mpi.govt.nz.

Options when your product is not included in the IHS                     

If there's no IHS for your product, you can't import it. However, you can ask MPI to consider developing a new IHS for your product.

To make a request, use a separate form for each commodity and email or post the form(s) and any additional information to MPI.

MPI prioritises each request for a new IHS, and it may take several years to finalise your request.

Arrange transitional storage

MPI approves transitional facilities to hold and manage imported goods that might have some associated biosecurity risk. These goods may be inspected or treated at the transitional facility before they can be cleared by MPI.

Bulk untreated bee products must go to an approved bee-proof transitional facility. You also need a biosecurity import permit for untreated bee products, and you’ll need to identify the transitional facility on the permit.

You or your customs broker need to arrange for the transfer to the transitional facility, before your goods arrive in New Zealand. 

Download the biosecurity import permit (animal products) application form:

All treatments at a transitional facility must be done by an approved treatment provider. You are liable for any costs associated with non-compliance or contamination.

Search for an approved treatment provider [PDF, 132 KB]

Meet New Zealand Customs Service requirements

Check with NZ Customs whether:

  • you can import the product without restriction
  • the product will be subject to duties or tariffs
  • an NZ Customs permit is needed (such as for health products).

Visit the NZ Customs website to:

Consider using a customs broker

A customs broker will help you get import entry clearance. Some services provided by the New Zealand Customs Service can only be accessed by registered customs brokers.

Many freight and transport companies employ their own brokers but if you need help finding one, contact the Customs Brokers and Freight Forwarders Federation.

Meet Food Act requirements

Registered food importers

All food coming into New Zealand must be imported by a registered food importer. If you want to import food, you can:

  • use a registered food importer, such as an agent
  • register as a food importer (available to New Zealand residents only).
Becoming a registered food importer

You can request to be a food importer when completing your New Zealand Customs Service (Customs) client registration application. Tick 'Yes' when asked if you wish to be a food importer.

When you have completed your form you can:

If you need help, phone NZ Customs on 0800 42 87 86.

Transition from listed food importer to registered food importer

If you were a listed food importer with MPI before 1 March 2016, you are considered to be a registered food importer until at least 1 July 2016. You'll need to re-apply after 1 July 2016 to continue to be a registered food importer. To find out when you need to register by:
  • Check your Letter of Listing to find out what day and month you became a listed food importer. It doesn't matter what year.
  • Find the corresponding day and month between 1 July 2016 and 30 June 2017.
That is the date by which you must register as a food importer. If you can't find out the day and month you became a listed food importer, email approvals@mpi.co.nz.

Comply with regulations and standards

All food businesses must comply with the Food Act 2014, Food Regulations 2015 and the Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code. For example, food sold in retail shops must have labels in English, with a New Zealand distributor's name and address.

You must also comply with regulations about sourcing foods that are safe and suitable, storing and transporting those foods, and keeping records.

Find out more

Step3

Getting your import documentation

How you know you've met MPI requirements.

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All imported honey and bee products need to have biosecurity clearance.

Biosecurity clearance

If a biosecurity inspector is satisfied that your products comply with the import health standard (IHS), clearance will be issued soon after your goods arrive.

If your products do not comply with an IHS, your goods may not be cleared. However, you may be given the chance to provide further documentation about your products. 

Importer responsibilities and alerts

Food can't be sold that is unsafe, unfit for human consumption, or contaminated. It's your responsibility as an importer to ensure that all legal requirements are met.

Food importers should regularly check any alerts issued for food recalled overseas, and for developing risks.

Who to contact

If you have questions about:

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