Steps to exporting grains, seeds, and nuts

Plant health (phytosanitary), food safety, quality grade, and labelling requirements differ widely between countries. So when exporting grains, seeds, or nuts, 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.

Who to contact

MPI uses authorised independent verification agencies (IVAs) to provide information for exporters including, destination country requirements, ePhyto requests and verification, phytosanitary inspection, and pest surveys.

If you have questions about phytosanitary requirements, contact an IVA.

For other enquiries, email

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What you need to know

An overview of exporting grains, seeds, and nuts from start to finish.

To export grains, nuts, or seeds successfully, you need to know about:

  • New Zealand's food safety requirements (which you must meet first)
  • phytosanitary, food safety, quality grade, and labelling requirements for your destination country
  • using MPI-authorised independent verification agencies (IVAs) or MPI-approved service providers or facilities for phytosanitary activities
  • export requirements set by the industry sector.

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 Service. It will also pay to check with the importing agent in your destination country that you haven't overlooked any requirements.

Exporting related products

Processes for exporting products related to grains, seeds, and nuts are elsewhere on the website.

  • Processed foods
    If your grains, seeds, or nuts for export include other products, like in a muesli snack bar, follow our guide to exporting processed foods.
  • Grains and seeds for sowing
    If your seeds are for sowing or growing, not for human consumption, follow our guide to exporting grains and seeds.
  • Animal feeds
    To export grains and seeds that will be used for animal feed, like feed wheat or barley, follow our guide to exporting animal feeds.

Information for organic exporters

If you are exporting organic grain, nuts, or seeds, you need to know about the Official Organic Assurance Programme (OOAP). This programme is designed to make it easier to export organic products to specific countries.

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 most 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 New Zealand food safety requirements

All food produced in New Zealand for sale in New Zealand or for export must comply with the New Zealand Food Act, the joint Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code, and for pesticide residues the New Zealand maximum residue limit (MRL) standard. Make sure that you are familiar with these requirements. Refer to the:

Check your destination country's food safety requirements

Some destination countries have different or additional food safety standards or requirements and it is your responsibility to comply with these. They may include food safety, pesticide residues, microorganisms, and contaminants or 'foreign bodies'.

Check the importing country's food safety requirements by contacting their official food regulator or ask your import agent.

Check pesticide maximum residue levels (MRLs)

Most countries have MRLs for pesticides to protect consumer health and to promote good agricultural practice (GAP) in the use of insecticides, fungicides, herbicides, and other agricultural compounds.

Sometimes the MRLs set by your destination country are more stringent than New Zealand's. The country you are exporting to may carry out border testing to ensure your consignment meets their MRLs.

The MRLs for many different countries are held in a searchable database maintained by MPI. You can search by country, crop, or pesticide. MPI cannot guarantee the accuracy of the database. You should also check the destination country's relevant legislation before exporting your product. 

Tree nuts are not listed in the pesticide database. Exporters should contact MPI for more information about MRLs set for your destination market or check your destination country's MRL legislation.

Find out more
Undertake testing for pesticide residues, if required

Your industry group may have an export programme for your product. It may specify rules around pesticide use and residue testing. Contact the industry group for more information.

If residue testing is required, MPI has recognised several laboratories that do residue analysis using specified test methods.

Check requirements of the industry group

Industry groups sometimes set other requirements. You may be able to find contact details for your product on these industry websites, or contact them for more information.

For example, if you are exporting chestnuts then check the Horticulture Export Authority's (HEA) requirements.

Check labelling and packaging requirements of your destination country

Your destination country may have food, packaging, or other labelling requirements for your product. Ask your importer or agent about any requirements that your produce 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.

Getting your export documentation

How you know you've met MPI requirements.

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

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