Steps to importing fresh fruit and vegetables
To import fresh produce (including fruit, vegetables, herbs and fungi) you must either be registered as a food importer with MPI, or use a registered food importer. There are also other standards and requirements. We've created a step-by-step process to explain what's involved.
Follow the steps
What you need to know
An overview of importing fresh fruit and vegetables from start to finish.
Types of produce included in this import process
This import process is for fresh fruit, vegetables, fungi, and herbs that are unprocessed (that is, no more than washed). However, some commercial brands of fruit and vegetables that have had limited processing are considered fresh and referred to as "approved processed commodities".
Download the list of approved processed commodities [PDF, 196 KB]
If your produce has been processed before packing then it will have different import requirements to meet – unless it is on the list of approved processed commodities.
Processing may include:
- stripping or peeling
- heating (blanching, steaming, boiling, roasting, baking, drying)
- preserving (pickling) or blast freezing.
To import fresh fruit and vegetables successfully you need to know about:
- New Zealand Customs Service (Customs) requirements and import clearance procedures
- the biosecurity requirements and restrictions that apply
- Food Act requirements
- food importer registration
- general requirements of registered food importers – sourcing and keeping food safe and suitable, records, and recalls
- the Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code, including labelling, composition and restricted foods
- fees and charges that apply for services provided by MPI and other agencies.
Guides to help you
- Before Importing into New Zealand (overview) [PDF, 341 KB]
- Meeting Requirements as a Registered Food Importer (details) [PDF, 369 KB]
- How to Import Food into New Zealand (overview) [PDF, 394 KB]
- Importing Food into New Zealand (details) [PDF, 201 KB]
Organic food, irradiated food, genetically modified food, and supplemented foods have additional requirements besides the Food Act. Learn more:
- Organic food
- Irradiated food and ingredients [PDF, 125 KB]
- Genetically modified food and ingredients [PDF, 137 KB]
- Supplemented foods [PDF, 67 KB]
What you need to do
The tasks you need to complete.
Meet biosecurity requirements
You'll need to understand and comply with the biosecurity requirements for your product.
Find the import health standard (IHS) for your product
Biosecurity requirements are detailed in documents called import health standards (IHS). The IHS for your product will tell you what you need to do to import it.
Most fresh produce is covered under the IHS for importing fresh fruit and vegetables. If your plant species isn't listed in this IHS, search for another one on the Requirements page.
A draft guidance document is available for these IHSs.
The importation of fresh truffles for consumption is covered by the IHS: Truffles for Consumption: IHS.FP.TRUFFLES.
You will also need to complete a permit to import application for this product.
Download the IHS for truffles for consumption [PDF, 555 KB]
If there's no IHS for your product, you can't import it. However, you can ask MPI to consider developing one.
To make a request, use a separate form for each commodity and email or post the form with any additional information to MPI.
MPI sets priorities for developing new import health standards, and it may take some years to finalise your request.
Meet New Zealand Customs Service requirements
Check with the New Zealand Customs Service (Customs) whether:
- you can import the product without restriction
- the product will be subject to duties or tariffs
- a Customs permit is needed (such as for health products).
Visit the Customs website to:
Consider using a customs broker
A customs broker will help you get import entry clearance. Some services provided by Customs can only be accessed by registered customs brokers.
Many freight and transport companies employ their own brokers but if you need help finding one, contact the Customs Brokers and Freight Forwarders Federation.
Meet Food Act requirements
Registered food importers
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 as a food importer.
MPI lists registered food importers in a public database.
Note: To register as a food importer you or your company must be a New Zealand resident as defined in sections YD1 (for persons) or YD2 (for companies) of the Income Tax Act 2007.
Becoming a registered food importer
To register as a food importer, download and submit the Customs client registration form 224.
Your registration won't be completed until the form has been processed and the fee has been paid.
If you need help with registering, contact MPI by:
- email: email@example.com
- phone: 0800 008 333 or 04 894 2550
Comply with regulations and standards
Registered food importers must meet food safety requirements under the Food Act 2014. These include:
- confirming the safety and suitability of food they import
- safely handling and transporting food
- meeting specific requirements for foods identified as presenting a higher risk to consumers, also known as foods of high or increased regulatory interest.
All food businesses must comply with the Food Act 2014, Food Regulations 2015 and the Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code. For example, food sold in retail shops must have labels in English, with a New Zealand distributor's name and address.
Read the guide to complying with labelling requirements [PDF, 1.1 MB]
As a registered food importer you must also comply with regulations about sourcing foods that are safe and suitable, storing and transporting those foods, and keeping records.
Find out more
Before Importing into New Zealand (overview) [PDF, 341 KB]
Meet phytosanitary requirements
All produce covered by the IHS requires a phytosanitary certificate, which is issued in the country of production (the exporting country).
Phytosanitary certificate requirements vary and are listed by country in Appendix 1 of the fresh fruit and vegetables IHS, or will be listed in the relevant IHS for the species you're importing. Additional declarations may be required for your plant species.
To meet the requirements you may need to complete some or all of the following tasks before your products are shipped:
- source produce from a pest-free area or country
- have the produce inspected for pests and diseases, and arrange fumigation or other treatments, if needed
- use approved packaging and shipping materials that are free of soil or other contaminants
- identify the consignment with its scientific (genus and species) name
- meet any extra requirements listed in the IHS.
Once you have met the requirements, you can apply for a phytosanitary certificate.
Apply for a phytosanitary certificate
To apply for a certificate, you or your export supplier should contact the relevant National Plant Protection Organisation (NPPO, an equivalent agency to MPI) in the country of export. You can find the contact details on the International Plants Protection Convention (IPPC) website.
A phytosanitary certificate is issued once the contact point agent is satisfied that the requirements of the IHS have been met. The original phytosanitary certificate must be included with your consignment.
Not sure what to do?
For queries about phytosanitary certificates, contact the export broker or your NPPO contact point.
Meet packaging requirements
Packaging must be clean and free from soil or other contaminants. If you are using wood products other than paper to pack your consignment, there are extra conditions to meet to make sure there are no hidden pests or diseases.
Submit documents within 48 hours of arrival
You or your customs broker need to make sure that all of the required documents are submitted to Customs or MPI within 48 hours of the consignment arriving in New Zealand.
A copy of the phytosanitary certificate must be included. Other documentation may include:
- treatment certificates
- a purchase invoice
- the bill of lading or air waybill.
Comply with on-arrival inspections
An MPI inspector will check the consignment when it arrives in New Zealand to make sure it complies with the IHS. This includes checks for:
- visual signs of pests and diseases
- correct documentation (phytosanitary certificate and import permit, if required)
- correct labelling with the plant's scientific name (species and genus)
- packaging that is free of contaminants (detritus, soil, disease, or pests).
The MPI inspector issues a Biosecurity Authority Clearance Certificate (BACC) to identify any actions required for a consignment. These may include:
- documents needing to be corrected
- further treatments.
What to do with contamination
If contamination (like live organisms or soil) is found in your produce, the MPI inspector will inform you about the options for your consignment. Depending on the type of contamination, you may choose to:
- identify the organism, and treat if it's identified as a restricted pest
- treat the container or consignment (for example, by fumigation)
- re-ship the product to another destination
- destroy the product.
Find an MPI-approved pest identification service [PDF, 197 KB]
Arranging treatments or testing, if needed
If your produce or packaging has to be treated when it arrives in New Zealand, then this needs to be done by an approved treatment provider.
You are liable for any cost associated with non-compliance or contamination.
Search for an approved treatment provider [PDF, 188 KB]
Learn more about approved biosecurity treatments [PDF, 1.1 MB]
Getting your import documentation
How you know you've met MPI requirements.
Check that you or your customs broker have completed the following pre-shipment and on-arrival tasks:
- Ensure the IHS requirements are met (for example, pest and disease inspections, treatments, labelling)
- Apply for a phytosanitary certificate from the National Plant Protection Organisation (NPPO) in the country of export
- Check your packaging material is approved
- Include the original phytosanitary certificate with the consignment
- Submit documents to the New Zealand Customs Service and MPI within 48 hours of the consignment arriving in New Zealand.
- Supply correct documents, including a phytosanitary certificate
- Comply with treatment requirements (fumigation or devitalisation)
- Comply with any treatments or disposal specified in the Biosecurity Authority Clearance Certificate (BACC).
Once all requirements have been met, MPI will issue a BACC confirming that your consignment has been cleared.
Importer responsibilities and alerts
Food can't be sold that is unsafe, unfit for human consumption, or contaminated. It's your responsibility as an importer to ensure that all legal requirements are met.
Food importers should regularly check any alerts issued for food recalled overseas, and for developing risks.
Importers are among the most important people in defending against potential biosecurity dangers.
New pests and diseases can not only impact on human health but also damage agricultural or horticultural production, forestry, and tourism, and affect trade in international markets.
If you notice an organism that is not normally seen in New Zealand, contact MPI as soon as possible on 0800 80 99 66.
Who to contact
If you have any questions about importing fresh food and vegetables, email firstname.lastname@example.org