E-commerce: online selling of products overseas

E-commerce is the sale of goods online. If you sell goods to overseas customers, this is exporting. Anyone who is exporting needs to meet certain requirements.

What is e-commerce?

E-commerce is the sale of goods online. For example, this could be through:

  • your own website
  • an online marketplace
  • an app.

If you sell goods to overseas customers, this is exporting. 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.

Find out about MPI's role in exporting

What e-commerce means for your business

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).
Expand All
New Zealand requirements for export

You must meet New Zealand requirements before you can export a product.

New Zealand has a reputation as a trusted producer of high-quality primary products. This is largely based on our regulatory systems, standards, and requirements.

If you want to export you need to meet New Zealand's requirements for export – even small shipments of product sold through e-commerce. For some products, you'll need to be a registered exporter.

Find out the requirements for exporting your product

Destination market requirements

Depending on the product there may be additional destination market import requirements.

Goods that are made for sale in New Zealand may be able to be sold online to overseas customers. But you need to do your own research to be sure.

Products like animal products, New Zealand grape wine, organics, and plants often have more requirements.

Check market-specific export requirements (OMARs) for animal products, New Zealand grape wine, and organics

Check market-specific export requirements for plants and plant products

Even if you've sold a product through e-commerce channels, you may still need an export certificate or export eligibility statement to send it overseas.

Find out about export certification

Understanding the risks of exporting

You need to get your export and e-commerce trade right to protect New Zealand's reputation. New Zealand's reputation is very important to our exporting success.

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 a number of options to ensure appropriate actions are taken. If non-compliance is serious, you may be prosecuted.

Have a food recall plan

A food recall stops the sale, distribution, and consumption of food that is unsafe or unsuitable. All exporters 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 this of New Zealand's export industry.

Find out how to develop a food recall plan

Export non-conformances

Products are sometimes refused entry into another country. For exports of any animal products, 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.

Find out about export non-conformances

Other government support for exporters

Export – New Zealand Customs Service

Exporting with NZTE – New Zealand Trade and Enterprise

Advice to help businesses succeed – business.govt.nz

How we help exporters – Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade

Commerce Commission

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.

Sending food or animal products overseas for personal use or as a gift

Who to contact

If you have any questions about exporting, our Exporter Regulatory Advice Service (ERAS) can help you understand regulations and requirements.

Get help with exporting

Last reviewed: