Steps to exporting semen and embryos

To export animal semen and embryos you must meet several requirements. We've created a step-by-step process so you can see what's involved.

When to alert MPI

As an exporter you’re responsible for telling MPI within 24 hours if the certified commodity:

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

Who to contact

If you have questions about exporting semen and embryos, email

Follow the steps 

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What you need to know

An overview of exporting semen and embryos from start to finish.

To export semen or embryos from livestock or horses you need to know about:

  • registering as an exporter or using the services of a registered exporter, if you're exporting commercially
  • relevant legislation
  • making sure the semen and embryos are produced and processed at a facility registered as an export-approved premises
  • checking market requirements and whether a current Overseas Market Access Requirements document (OMAR) is available
  • referring to the Operational code: Export germplasm
  • checking whether the destination country requires an import permit 
  • engaging a recognised agency to assess your operation
  • accessing export certificate templates (optional).

You may have to meet other requirements as well. These requirements might be commercial, or set by other government agencies like the New Zealand Customs Service (NZ Customs). It will also pay to check with the 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)
  • Operational code: Export germplasm.


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.

Operational code

Operational code is the guidance material containing the recommended standards for germplasm (semen and embryos) exports.

Download the Operational code: Export germplasm [PDF, 1.2 MB]

In addition, the Export Verification Programme document sets out the operational detail that an operator of an export-approved premises (semen centres, embryo teams, and poultry hatcheries) needs to follow.

Export Verification Programme [PDF, 81 KB]

Exporting related products

Processes for exporting products related to animal semen and embryos are provided elsewhere on this website. Follow these steps if you're exporting:

Export Laboratory Programme

Exporters should also be familiar with the Recognised Laboratory Programme. All laboratories that test live animals, semen and embryos for export must operate under this 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]

What you need to do

The tasks you need to complete.

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

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

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', also called an 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.  

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 about the requirements that 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 this to MPI's animal export team.

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

For more information

Register your premises 

Semen and embryos for export from livestock and horses must be produced and processed at export-approved premises. These premises must operate a quality assurance system that complies with the Export Germplasm Code of Practice and the OMAR for the destination country. Premises also usually employ an approved veterinarian.

Contact a verifier to audit the premises 

Producers of semen and embryos need to contact an MPI-recognised agency to initiate the verification process. The recognised agency audits the premises and, if satisfied, will provide an audit report that allows the premises to apply to MPI for listing as an export-approved Premises.

Once registered, the premises must be audited according to the Export Verification Programme. The listing must be renewed if you wish to continue exporting after two years.

Download the application form for export-approved premises listing [PDF, 763 KB]

For more information:

You don't need to have approved premises if you export canine and feline semen.

If you're the exporter of another producer's semen and embryos, you need to make sure the producer's premises are registered.

Use export certificate templates (optional)

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

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

Have an approved vet complete and sign the export eligibility declaration

Export-approved premises usually employ an approved veterinarian who can complete and sign a declaration using the export certificate template. The veterinarian then passes the document to an MPI official veterinarian, who issues the export certificate (official assurance) on security paper.

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 your wood packaging to make sure it's free of pests and diseases. 

Other plant materials, like those used as bedding or food, may also need to meet the importing country's requirements.

Getting your export documentation

How you know you've met MPI requirements.

You're officially ready to export animal semen and embryos when you have an:

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