How to start exporting

As an exporter, it's your responsibility to ensure you meet all the requirements for your product and the destination market.

Before you start

First, you need to work out whether exporting is an option for you and then set up your business. Guides are available to help you.

Choose a market

Different markets have different rules and regulations for products entering their borders. Before you decide where to export to, you should:

  • check if your product has access to that market
  • check if you need an import permit for it
  • ideally, have an importer in the market
  • consider getting a reliable freight forwarder who works with that region.

You should also check whether your product needs:

  • an export certificate
  • to come from a registered manufacturer under a plan or programme, for example, a Risk Management Programme
  • to come from a manufacturer that's listed with export market Government authorities.

In some cases, you can only find these things out by reading password protected documents, which you may not be able to access without registering as an exporter. Our export advice team can give you some information before you register.

Ensure your product meets requirements

For all primary industry exports, you need to meet both the New Zealand requirements and any additional overseas market requirements.

Requirements depend on the product you're exporting and the market you're exporting to, but can include things like:

  • operating under a particular plan or programme throughout production
  • having operations regularly verified by an approved verifier
  • including specific information on labels.

Check the steps to meet specific requirements for your product

Comply with New Zealand laws

Primary industry export requirements in New Zealand are covered by the following Acts:

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Animal Products Act (APA) 1999

The APA 1999 applies to products including meat, dairy products, seafood, honey and bee products, pet food, hides and skins, wool, live animals and genetic material. The Official Assurances Specifications sets out the rules for getting export certificates. For more information refer to the:

Food Act 2014

The Food Act 2014 covers all the requirements expected of food manufacturers, processors, distributors, and sellers of food that is sold or traded. The Food Act 2014 came into force in 2016.

Wine Act 2003

The Wine Act 2003 includes provisions for exporting New Zealand grape wine, other fruit wine, cider and mead. For more information refer to the Act.

Biosecurity Act 1993

The Biosecurity Act underpins New Zealand assurances about animal products, and is used when exports return to New Zealand. For more information refer to the Act.

Find out more

We've got legal overviews you can read if you want to learn more about the regulation we administer for the primary sector.

Check if you need to register as an exporter

You'll need to register as an exporter with MPI if you export:

  • animals and animal products (like meat, seafood, live animals, live bees, germplasm, dairy products, and foods containing animal products)
  • organic products produced under the Official Organic Assurance Programme that are destined for certain markets
  • non-New Zealand grape wine, fruit wine, cider, and mead.

Some exporters don't need to register but are still required to meet other export or destination country requirements. You don't need to register if you're exporting:

  • non-animal-product food products (unless exported under the Official Organics Assurance Programme - OOAP)
  • wine made from New Zealand grapes
  • plant products
  • organic products that are not produced under the OOAP
  • owners exporting their own animals for non-commercial reasons, like pet cat and dog owners.

If you need an export certificate

We use E-cert (electronic certification) to manage and track many products that will be exported and to issue official assurances or export certificates.

There are different e-cert applications for different products:

If your product is not managed through an electronic certification system, it may not need MPI certification. You'll need to check the requirements of the importing country.

If you are exporting food products manufactured in New Zealand, you may need a Free Sale Certificate (FSC) or a Free Sale Statement (FSS).

Request an export certificate

An export certificate is a type of official assurance that provides an importing country with confirmation from the New Zealand Government (MPI) that your product or commodity meets specified standards and requirements. You don't need one for all products.

Most export certificates are applied for through an e-cert system, but some are done differently.

Report any problems with an export

If you export animal products or material, or wine, you must report export non-conformances to MPI within 24 hours. If you don't, there are penalties. Non-conformance is when your product no longer meets requirements or is turned back at the border.

The reporting provides MPI with essential details for discussing issues with overseas counterparts, which may lead to improved access arrangements.

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