Equivalence, co-management, and recognised systems

Biosecurity risk management operates in a dynamic environment. MPI recognises that alternative risk management systems may sometimes be appropriate. This page has information for those interested in helping MPI manage biosecurity risks through equivalence, co-management or recognised systems.

Managing biosecurity risks

While many risk management systems operate at the border, the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) recognises new systems and different points of intervention may also be appropriate at or before the border.
Equivalence, co-management, and recognised systems are ways that industry can be involved in helping us manage biosecurity risks.

What is equivalence?

An equivalent system is defined as an approved system or practice to mitigate risk to the level required in the import health standard (IHS).

In other words, equivalence is substituting one standard approved practice for a system that is shown to achieve the same or better outcome. Examples are:

  • substituting heat treatment for fumigation of a container
  • cleaning sea containers offshore by the importer or exporter – reducing the need for full MPI inspections on arrival in New Zealand.

What is co-management?

Co-management is defined as a third party doing activities on behalf of MPI. 

 Examples are:

  • inspections to verify compliance of empty sea containers done by Port Otago staff instead of MPI staff
  • accredited persons inspecting low-risk containers on MPI's behalf.

What are recognised systems?

An MPI recognised system (MRS) is defined as a system that recognises the efforts shipping lines and offshore cleaning facilities implement to import compliant empty sea containers into New Zealand.

An MRS will allow a risk profile intervention rate for imported clean empty containers to be as low as 1% at the border.

Shipping lines can apply for an MPI Recognised System (MRS) number if a risk profile intervention rate is at 5% or less for at least 12 months.

MPI will issue a unique MRS number that shipping lines must declare for each container associated with an MRS.

Approved sea container hygiene systems (SCHS), co-management systems and MPI recognised systems (MRS) are available to view via the link below for each offshore cleaning facility and associated shipping lines.

Getting approval

MPI has a process that must be followed before approval is given for co-management or equivalence systems. It involves 6 steps and these are covered in the guidance document MPI Guidelines for approving equivalent, co-mnagement, and recognised systems.

Download the guidance document [PDF, 588 KB]

Talk with MPI before applying

 MPI recommends you discuss your proposal for new equivalent, co-management, and recognised systems before you apply. Note that:

  • MPI reserves the right to decline any proposals
  • this process is not for development or research into potential intervention or management options.

For equivalence applications contact:

Biosecurity and Environment Group
Regulation and Assurance Branch
Ministry for Primary Industries
PO Box 2526
Email: standards@mpi.govt.nz

For co-management and recognised system applications, contact:

Border Clearance Services
Operations Branch
Ministry for Primary Industries
PO Box 2526
Email: seacontainer.systems@mpi.govt.nz

Specific guidelines

Equivalent system

Processes and requirements for setting up a sea container hygiene system:


Process and requirements for a third party wishing to set up a system to manage empty containers on behalf of MPI:

Recognised systems

Process and requirements for shipping lines wishing to apply for a MPI Recognised system.

MPI Approved and Recognised Systems

Some legal points

It is important to note:

  1. Equivalence, co-management, and recognised systems are not a discharging of legal responsibilities from MPI. Equivalent measures may be put in place to meet legal requirements and such decisions are empowered under the Act. In some cases the management of that system may be managed under co-management.
  2. These options are not regulatory requirements that all must comply with. They are not compulsory nor even an option for everybody to adopt.
  3. All costs associated with development of the application and undertaking trials are incurred by the company seeking approval.
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