Operating a place of first arrival

Airports and seaports must meet certain requirements to operate as approved places of first arrival (PoFA). Find out the requirements, what happens if you don't meet them, and how to manage approvals.

Applying for PoFA approval

To receive offshore craft, vessels, and cargo, an airport or a seaport operator must be approved for a PoFA. There are 4 steps to follow.

  1. Before you apply, you must arrange a point of entry for Ministry of Health, CCA for Customs, and other requirements.
  2. Contact the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) to review your operating manual and biosecurity control areas to ensure all facilities are appropriate.
  3. Fill out and sign the PoFA application form.
  4. Send the completed form and other documentation to MPI.

These steps are covered in more detail on this web page or you can download our fact sheet.  

Applying for PoFA approval – fact sheet [PDF, 313 KB]

1. Before you apply for PoFA approval

If your airport or seaport wants to apply for PoFA approval, you must provide evidence to MPI that you meet other agency requirements. Those agencies are:

Before you lodge your application to MPI, you must arrange other licensing requirements such as:

Note: Although MPI consults with relevant government agencies under section 37 of the Biosecurity Act 1993 when processing PoFA applications, this does not include arranging these licensing requirements.

Section 37 of the Biosecurity Act 1993 – NZ Legislation

2. Contact MPI to review your operating manual and facilities

The PoFA operator must contact MPI and arrange for an inspector to:

  • review the operating manual
  • review the biosecurity control areas (BCAs)
  • ensure all facilities are appropriate to operate.

Check these and other requirements you'll need to meet to operate a PoFA

The MPI inspector will countersign your PoFA application form acknowledging the PoFA is compliant and suitable for the proposed operations.

3. Complete the PoFA application form

To operate a place of first arrival, you must complete the application form.

Application for approval under section 37 as a PoFA [PDF, 586 KB]

Note: Approved PoFA operators can use the same form to vary an existing PoFA approval.

4. Send documentation to MPI

Email your signed application form and supporting documentation to standards@mpi.govt.nz

PoFA applications including variations take up to 8 weeks to process before an approval certificate is issued.

Requirements to operate a PoFA

To receive MPI approval to operate a port (airport or seaport) as a PoFA, the port must meet specific requirements. These are outlined in the PoFA Standard.

All PoFAs require:

  • an approved operator and delegate
  • a biosecurity control area (BCA) for processing passengers, crew, and their baggage
  • appropriate biosecurity signage
  • arrangements for pest and weed management
  • a system to notify MPI about arrival of craft and cargo, and their planned movements once in New Zealand
  • contingency plans for unexpected events
  • a security system to control cleared and uncleared cargo and passengers
  • biosecurity training and communications
  • documentation of all the above requirements, including an operating manual.

Depending on the craft and cargo type, PoFAs may need a quarantine area to unload bulk cargo. They may also need suitable facilities for particular uncleared risk goods, such as:

  • a ramp or hoist for inspection of vehicles
  • areas or facilities suitable for treatment of contaminated goods.

Full details are in the standard.

MPI Standard: Place of First Arrival [PDF, 490 KB]

Approved operators and training requirements

PoFA operator delegates must complete a PoFA delegate operator training course which focuses on biosecurity responsibilities of operators, and their role in managing a PoFA, its facilities, arrangements, and approvals.

For information on locations and dates of training courses, email Learning.Development@mpi.govt.nz

If you have approved Transitional Facilities (TFs) within your PoFA, ensure training requirements of the TFs are met, including having an adequate number of trained accredited people.

Transitional facility operator training providers

Keep PoFA staff informed about biosecurity issues

Make sure staff are aware of biosecurity requirements. MPI's biosecurity presentations and other resources can be used to support training of staff and third-party operators.

We provide regular updates for operators and staff on pests and diseases, and facility requirements – including through our See, Contain, Report newsletter.

Check other MPI requirements

Approved PoFAs (and related facilities) may have to meet other MPI requirements, depending on the type of port and its activities.

Third parties (such as airline services or stevedores) may provide services that contribute to the PoFA meeting these requirements. MPI will recognise the third-party contribution if:

  • they are an MPI-approved Transitional Facility
  • they provide an MPI-approved service (for example, accredited persons unpacking or supervising the unpacking of air containers)
  • they are recognised as managing an area of the PoFA that contributes to the approval of specified craft and cargo type, such as a BCA
  • the third-party arrangements are detailed in the operating manual, including any contractual agreements
  • their requirements are outlined in facility standards, import health standards, and craft risk management standards.

The PoFA operator is still responsible for all undertakings of the PoFA.

Find requirements for:

Keep an up-to-date operating and BCA manual

PoFA operators must keep an up-to-date operating manual that documents:

  • operations
  • biosecurity management systems for the craft and cargo type approvals
  • other requirements.

Use our guidance documents to help you write an operating manual

You must ensure that your operating manual details the management of specific risks and the operations of your port. Use one of our MPI templates to help prepare a PoFA operating manual that includes all the requirements.

Airport operating manual template [PDF, 244 KB]

Seaport operating manual template [DOC, 61 KB]

Biosecurity control area (BCA) manual

A BCA manual is required. It can be part of the operating manual. In some cases, MPI may ask a PoFA operator or a third-party to prepare a separate BCA manual. Use MPI's template to make sure you include all the requirements. Your MPI inspector will provide more information, if required.

Template biosecurity control area manual [DOC, 349 KB]

Check additional facility arrangements

PoFAs may require additional facilities to support operations. These may be provided by the port company or by other organisations (under third-party arrangements). Additional facility arrangements must be listed in the operating manual, regardless of who provides it. PoFAs can't receive craft or cargo types that an additional facility handles if the other facility doesn't meet MPI requirements.

The PoFA operator is responsible for all undertakings of the PoFA, even if some areas are managed or have arrangements by another company. A PoFA may receive a non-conformance report or infringement from MPI if there is breach in biosecurity management of the facility arrangements.

Facility requirements for approved PoFAs

Seaport requirements Airport requirements
Transitional facility for holding uncleared goods Arrangements for holding uncleared goods (can be within the PoFA)
Biosecurity refuse facility Biosecurity refuse facility
Decontamination facility for containers Contingency arrangements to decontaminate highly contaminated air containers (can be within the PoFA)
Treatment facility Treatment facility

Note: MPI approves transitional and treatment facilities separately from PoFA approvals.

Transitional and containment facilities for border clearance

Treatment options and providers

Ensure the port has the right approvals

Aircraft and vessels coming to New Zealand must arrive at a PoFA approved for the craft and cargo type. You could be fined if you allow arrivals at a port that:

  • hasn't been approved as a PoFA
  • has a PoFA approval that doesn't cover the type of craft or cargo entering the port.

Prepare for a regular assessment of your PoFA

MPI regularly assesses PoFA facilities, arrangements, and systems to make sure they are compliant. You will be contacted by your local MPI inspector when your PoFA is due for assessment. To prepare for an assessment:

  • update your operating manual
  • use the appropriate PoFA assessment checklist to make sure it meets all requirements
  • ensure staff training requirements are being met
  • send your updated operating manual to your local MPI inspector.

PoFA assessment checklist [DOCX, 159 KB] 

What does the assessment involve?

After receiving your operating manual, the MPI inspector will arrange an assessment. During the assessment, MPI will:

  • review the operating manual
  • review previous port activity and compliance
  • contact you to arrange an on-site assessment (including talking to staff and reviewing documentation)
  • follow up on any non-compliance issues found during the assessment
  • let you know the outcome of the assessment.

If your PoFA doesn't comply

If the assessment shows your PoFA doesn't comply, or parts of it don't comply (including third parties) the MPI inspector will ask you (and third parties) to fix the problems by a specified date.
Your PoFA approval may be changed, suspended, or revoked if MPI finds:

  • ongoing or serious non-compliance
  • the PoFA is not managing biosecurity risks
  • a breach of the conditions subject to the approval.

This may mean the craft or cargo types that don't comply may be removed from your certificate of approval.

How often are PoFAs assessed?

PoFAs are assessed once a year. Non-compliant PoFAs may be assessed more frequently.

Manage your approvals – change, re-establish, or cancel

You can apply to MPI to change, re-establish, or cancel a PoFA approval by completing the form.

Application for approval under section 37 as a PoFA or application to vary existing PoFA approval [PDF, 586 KB]

Email the form and supporting documentation to standards@mpi.govt.nz

PoFA variation applications take up to 8 weeks to process.

Changing a PoFA approval

Do not make any changes until you receive written approval from MPI.

You must apply for a variation of your PoFA approval to change:

  • the types of craft or cargo (passengers and goods) being imported
  • the volumes of craft or goods being imported
  • facilities and systems
  • third-party arrangements
  • operator details.

To apply for a variation, you'll need to provide MPI with:

  • a completed PoFA variation application form countersigned by your local MPI inspector
  • supporting documentation including biosecurity management systems that will be included in your updated operating manual.

Changing a biosecurity control area (BCA)

Do not make any changes until you receive written approval from MPI.

To change a BCA (including the operations, location, floor layout or plan), add, or remove a BCA you will need to send MPI:

  • reasons for the variation
  • a site plan of the proposed BCA (detail of building and location within the PoFA boundary), ideally satellite or drone quality image with a legend and highlighted detailed areas
  • PoFA application form countersigned by local MPI inspector for the proposed changes
  • an updated BCA manual (if required by MPI).

Any new BCA or significant alterations to the structure or number of BCAs requires a new BCA agreement between MPI and the PoFA operator.

Re-establishing a PoFA approval

If your PoFA isn't operational within a year following approval, you'll need to re-establish approval.

Apply to re-establish approval by contacting your local MPI inspector for an assessment of the port.

Cancelling a PoFA approval

If you want to cancel your PoFA approval, email your request to standards@mpi.govt.nz

If a PoFA isn't operational for 12 months, you can choose to suspend or cancel your approval.

Fees and charges

PoFA operators will be charged for services provided by MPI and other service providers, including applications and assessments.

Find fees and charges for PoFA operators

Applications are fully cost recovered through the cost regulations.

Biosecurity (Costs) Regulations 2010

Check cost recovery for processing international travellers at airports for those applicants establishing or re-establishing a PoFA for airports.

Airports (Cost Recovery for Processing of International Travellers) Act 2014

Who to contact

If you have general questions regarding becoming a PoFA or managing your approvals, email standards@mpi.govt.nz

If you want to arrange a site visit, or review of your operating manual, PoFA operations, or responsibilities, contact your local MPI inspector.

Find your local MPI office or inspector

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