Steps to exporting live bees

To export live bees across international borders you must meet several requirements. We've created a step-by-step process so you can see what you need to consider.

When to alert MPI

As an exporter you're responsible for telling MPI within 24 hours if the certified live bees:

  • don't have the required export documents – for example, if they have been removed or lost
  • fail to meet relevant Overseas Market Access Requirements (OMARs)
  • are refused entry by a foreign government.

Who to contact

If you have questions about exporting live bees, email

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Follow the steps

Step 1
What you need to know

An overview of exporting live bees from start to finish.

To export live bees you must:

  • register as an exporter or use the services of a registered exporter – if the purpose of your export is commercial
  • make sure the apiaries are registered so that their disease status is known, if required
  • be aware of relevant legislation
  • check market requirements and whether there is a current Overseas Market Access Requirements document (OMAR) available
  • refer to codes of practice for guidance
  • check whether an import permit is required by the destination country
  • engage a recognised agency to assess your operations and apiary registrations
  • access export certificate templates (optional).

You may have to meet other requirements as well. These might be of a commercial nature, or requirements set by other government agencies like the New Zealand Customs Service (NZ Customs). It will also pay to check with your importing agent in your destination country to make sure you haven't overlooked any requirements.

Official assurance programme (OAP)

Exporters should be familiar with the official assurance programme (OAP), which is supported by the Animal Products Act and related legal notices, especially those dealing with official assurance specifications, recognised agencies and persons, export-approved premises, and export verification requirements.

The programme is published as 2 types of document that set the standards and specifications for export. Those documents are:

  • Overseas Market Access Requirements (OMARs)
  • Codes of practice.

The Overseas Market Access Requirement (OMAR) is the legal document that lays out the requirements for exporting your commodity from New Zealand to your destination country.

Codes of practice

The codes of practice are the guidance material containing the recommended standards for exporters of live animals and germplasm exports.

Download the code of practice for general live animal exports [PDF, 172 KB]

American Foulbrood pest management

American Foulbrood is a significant bee disease that occurs in New Zealand. This disease is managed under a control programme called a pest management strategy. Although the disease occurs virtually worldwide, most countries require some level of control of American Foulbrood to be in place before bees can be exported to their country. Your OMAR may include requirements relating to the New Zealand control programme, or require an inspection of the hives as part of the preparation for export.

The National Pest Management Strategy has more information about efforts to eliminate American Foulbrood in New Zealand.

Exporting related products

Processes for exporting products related to live bees are provided elsewhere on this website. Follow these steps if you're exporting:

Recognised Laboratory Programme

Exporters should also be familiar with the Export Laboratory Programme. All laboratories that test live animals and germplasm for export must operate under the programme.

Advice on supplying pre-export, pro-forma documents or certificates

Some overseas competent authorities may ask for information about a consignment before they issue an import permit. Sometimes airlines may also ask for this information.

They may want it supplied in the same format as the relevant export certificate template. However, issuing a document that looks like an export certificate (official assurance) could pose some risk to exports if done incorrectly.

MPI has published a document, which provides guidance and advice to exporters when preparing pro-forma certification for live animal, semen and embryo exports.

Download the guidance document [PDF, 139 KB]

Step 2
What you need to do

The tasks you need to complete.

Register as an exporter or use the services of a registered exporter

If you're exporting commercially, you must register with MPI or use the services of a registered exporter. Exporter registration can be done online, or by completing a printed form.

If you have questions about registering as an exporter, email

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 requested by your shipper (airline or shipping company).

Check the overseas market requirements

You need to check the Overseas Market Access Requirements (OMAR) for your destination country. OMARs differ between countries and commodities. Check the OMAR to find out whether the destination country must issue an import permit.

If there's an OMAR for your export destination, you'll need an 'official assurance' (or export certificate) before you can send your commodity. Official assurance is the New Zealand Government's assurance to the destination country that your commodity meets the standards set out in the OMAR.

Arrange examinations or tests, if required

To make sure your bees have met agreed standards, they may have to be examined or have tests done. For some countries this includes approving the apiaries for export.

Where a country such as the European Union (EU) requires apiaries to be approved for export, contact an MPI-recognised agency and they'll guide you through the process of applying for the required apiary clearance process.

Once the recognised agency has processed the application, they'll send their recommendation for listing as an approved EU apiary to MPI.

Ensure you're referring to the latest requirements

OMARs published by MPI are the latest requirements as understood by MPI. But they may not be up-to-date. This is because importing countries don't always tell MPI about changes. And while import permits issued by the importing country often contain their latest import requirements - these won't always have been agreed with MPI.

Don't start pre-export preparations until you've checked if there's an OMAR. Where an import permit is required, exporters should also:

  • get the permit before beginning pre-export preparations
  • check the permit requirements match the OMAR.

Where permit requirements don't match an OMAR, contact the animal exports team immediately. Early contact helps ensure there's enough time before export to make changes, or complete negotiations if needed.

For help or to ask questions, email

Work with your importing agent if there's no OMAR

If there's no OMAR for your destination country, work directly with your importing agent to find out what requirements apply.

If negotiations are required or new market access is requested, you'll have to pay MPI for these services. You should complete the Request for Services form and return it to MPI's animal export team. MPI recovers all costs from the applicant.

Download the form to request services from MPI's animal exports team [PDF, 312 KB]

For more information

Use export certificate templates (optional)

You may want to use export certificate templates. You either need to be a registered exporter to get access to the templates, or the recognised agency can provide you with a copy. Using the templates will save you time when completing other export documents.

Download the form to apply for access to the export certificate template

Engage a recognised agency to complete the export preparations

Only MPI-recognised agencies can supervise the preparation of live animals for export.

Live bees for export must come from registered apiaries, and the recognised agency needs to make sure the apiary meets the importing country's requirements. In some cases, inspection by an approved beekeeper or testing is required.

When satisfied that all steps have been completed and all of the required paperwork has been provided by the exporter, the recognised agency staff complete and sign a declaration using the export certificate template. They then pass the document on to the MPI official veterinarian, who issues the export certificate (official assurance).

Are you using wood packaging and other plant materials?

If you use wood packaging products (other than paper) for your export, check that your wood packaging meets the phytosanitary requirements of the destination country. Most countries require you to treat wood packaging to make sure it's free of pests and diseases. Other plant materials, for example for use as bedding or food, often need to meet the importing country's requirements as well.

Step 3
Getting your export documentation

How you know you've met MPI requirements.

You're officially ready to export live bees when you have an:

  • import permit for your destination country, if required
  • MPI export certificate (official assurance), if required.


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