What is e-commerce?
E-commerce is the buying or selling of goods online. For example, this could be through:
- your own website
- an online marketplace or platform
- an app.
Selling goods online to customers overseas is also known as cross border e-commerce (CBEC). This includes selling and sending goods direct-to-consumers. For example, if overseas based customers purchase goods from your New Zealand website, you’re exporting.
What e-commerce means for your business
If your business is thinking about e-commerce or already selling online, the same exporting requirements apply as physical businesses. Anyone involved in exporting has to manage any risks to product and consumer safety. It's also important to protect New Zealand’s reputation as a supplier of safe and suitable food.
Understanding the risks of exporting
Most overseas destination markets have the same import requirements for products, regardless of how the product is sold or shipped.
All exported products need to meet:
- relevant New Zealand export requirements
- any market-specific export requirements as notified by MPI, such as overseas market access requirements (OMARs).
If you are exporting, you are responsible for ensuring the products meet all the relevant requirements. If you don't comply with regulations and requirements, this could undermine how overseas customers view our primary products. MPI has several options to ensure appropriate actions are taken. If non-compliance is serious, you may be prosecuted.
Food exporters must have a food recall plan
A food recall stops the sale, distribution, and consumption of food that is unsafe or unsuitable. All exporters of food, animal products, and wine should have a recall plan. This will help trace products and protect your business and consumers.
Recall plans are important when selling products overseas. Overseas governments expect New Zealand exporters to have a recall plan.
From 1 July 2023, businesses with a plan or programme under the Food Act, Wine Act, or Animal Products Act, as well as exporters, need to carry out a simulated recall within 12 months. You need to do one every 12 months after your last simulated recall, or after a real-life recall.
Products are sometimes refused entry into another country. For exports of any animal products or wine, you need to notify MPI within 24 hours of entry being refused. As the exporter, you will be responsible for either the costs of destruction or the return of the product to NZ. In some situations, you may be able to send these products on to another market. All of this applies to goods sold online too.
Other government support for exporters
Sending products overseas for personal use or as a gift
If you're sending food, drinks, or animal products overseas for personal use or as a gift, there may still be requirements you need to meet.
Contact us if you have questions
Our Exporter Regulatory Advice Service (ERAS) can help you understand regulations and requirements.