Food importing requirements

All food imported for sale in New Zealand must be safe and suitable and imported by a registered importer.


Mandatory intended use declarations from 1 April 2021

From 1 April 2021, all import declarations for food products must include a 2-letter intended use code.

This is required for all food products imported under tariffs in Chapters 2 to 5, 7 to 13, and 15 to 22 and codes 0602.90.00.01G and 1404.90.00.39C of the Working tariff document.

Working tariff document – NZ Customs Service

Mandatory check of food importer registration from 30 June 2021

From 30 June 2021, there will be an automatic check of food importer registration for all consignments of food for sale.

This will affect products imported under tariffs in Chapters 2 to 5, 7 to 13, and 15 to 22 and codes 0602.90.00.01G and 1404.90.00.39C of the Working tariff document, where the intended use declaration shows it is for sale as human food.

Consignments of food imported into New Zealand by unregistered food importers will be held at the border, until a valid registration is obtained.

All food for sale must be imported by a registered food importer

If you want to import food for sale in New Zealand, you must register as a food importer with MPI or use an agent who is registered.

Unregistered importers will have their consignments held until they gain their food importer registration (FIMP#).

You can avoid unnecessary delays by getting registered before you lodge your next consignment. 

MPI lists registered food importers in a public database.

View a list of registered food importers

Food importers must ensure food is safe and suitable 

All food importers are responsible for meeting the food safety requirements as set under the Food Act 2014. These include:

  • confirming the safety and suitability of food they will be importing
  • ensuring safe handling, storing and transporting of food
  • keeping good records for traceability
  • being prepared to recall food if it is not safe or suitable.

Find out more about responsibilities of a registered food importer

Food must meet labelling and ingredients requirements

Food for sale in New Zealand must comply with the Australia and New Zealand Food Standards Code. This sets rules about what’s allowed and not allowed in your food, and how it must be labelled when it comes to be sold.

Find out more about the Code – Food Standards Australia New Zealand

Find the rules for labelling and ingredients (composition)

A guide to food labelling [PDF, 1.1 MB]

Food may need food safety clearance at the border

Some foods present a greater risk to consumers and public health. They're known as foods of high regulatory interest (HRI) or foods of increased regulatory interest (IRI).

These foods require food safety clearance and are monitored for specific hazards. The food notice 'Importing Food' lists which foods require food safety clearance and what is needed for this clearance.

Read the Food Notice: Importing Food [PDF, 583 KB]

Involved in other food activities?

If your business involves more than just importing food (like storing, transporting, or selling food in a shop) you may need to register under a national programme or food control plan as well. 

Find out more

Download these guides to learn more about importing.

Before Importing into New Zealand (overview) [PDF, 341 KB]

Meeting requirements as a registered food importer (detail)  [PDF, 369 KB]

How to Import Food into New Zealand (overview)  [PDF, 394 KB]

Importing Food into New Zealand (details) [PDF, 201 KB]

Step-by-step guidance for specific food types

Find out more about the foods you want to import 

Who to contact

If you have questions, contact MPI:

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