Steps to exporting grains and seeds for sowing

Plant health (phytosanitary) requirements differ widely from country to country so you need to comply with the requirements of your destination country. 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 providing a report to your independent verification agency (IVA) within 5 working days if:

  • the importing country intercepts your MPI phytosanitary-certified produce and stops it clearing the border. This might happen if your produce has to be treated or destroyed because of a quarantine pest
  • importers or other offshore organisations identify risks relating to MPI export phytosanitary certification. Risks may include quarantine pests or incorrect documentation.

Who to contact

If you have questions about exporting plant products, contact an IVA.

For other enquiries, email

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Follow the steps

Step 1
What you need to know

An overview of exporting grains and seeds for sowing from start to finish.

To export grains or seeds for sowing you need to know about:

  • phytosanitary (plant health) and labelling requirements for your destination country
  • using MPI-authorised independent verification agencies (IVAs) or MPI-authorised service providers or facilities for phytosanitary activities
  • seed varietal certification requirements, if required
  • export requirements set by industry groups.

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

Exporting related products

Export processes and information related to grains and seeds are elsewhere on the website:

Information for organic exporters

If you are exporting organic grain or seeds, you need to know about the Official Organic Assurance Programme (OOAP). This is a programme designed to facilitate the exporting process of organic product to specific markets.

Step 2
What you need to do

The tasks you need to complete.

Check and comply with phytosanitary requirements

Each country has different phytosanitary (plant health) requirements. For some countries, you can find out the requirements by reading the importing country's phytosanitary requirements – known as an ICPR.

If your export destination has an ICPR, you need to comply with the requirements and contact an MPI-authorised independent verification agency (IVA) for help. There may be other requirements (like documentation, tests, or treatments) that the IVA will be able to advise you on. Fees may apply.

When there is no ICPR

For countries that don't have an ICPR, you may need an import permit. Ask your importer or agent in your destination country to check their country requirements.

You can read more about phytosanitary certificates issued when there's no ICPR in Section 3.3.2 of the MPI Certification Standard: Assurance System Framework.

Check requirements of the industry group

Sometimes other requirements are set by industry groups. Check for industry updates on the NZ Grain and Seed Trade Association website:

Meet seed varietal certification requirements, if needed

MPI has a standard detailing the minimum technical requirements to get certification of seeds for sowing.

If you need seed varietal certification, the standard explains what you have to do.

Download the seed varietal certification requirements standard [PDF, 455 KB]

Check labelling and packaging requirements of your destination country

There may be packaging or other labelling requirements for your product. Ask your importing agent about any requirements that your product needs to meet.

Check wood packaging requirements

If you use wood packaging products, other than paper, for your export product, check 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.

Request a phytosanitary certificate, if required

Phytosanitary certificates are issued only when MPI determines that your products meet all the importing country's phytosanitary requirements.

If you need a phytosanitary certificate, request it through MPI's online phytosanitary certification system – ePhyto.

You have to register before you can use ePhyto. If you don't want to register yourself, ask an independent verification agency (IVA) about other options.

You may need to include the phytosanitary certificate in the documents you give to your freight or shipping company.

Step 3
How to know you've met MPI requirements

Getting your export documentation.

You've met MPI requirements when you're issued with all the authorised documentation, like a phytosanitary certificate, as required by the destination country.

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