Registering as a food importer

If you import food for sale in New Zealand, you must be registered with the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) as a food importer or use an agent who is registered.

UPDATES

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.

Find out how to make your intended use of food declaration

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.

Once you have received your food importer registration number, the system will be updated with the details the following day. The importer will then need to do a resubmission in Trade Single Window for the consignment to be released.

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

Your food imports will be held at the border if you are not:

  • registered as a food importer with the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI), or
  • using an agent who is registered.

To register, you must have a New Zealand Customs' client code.  If you don’t have one, you can apply for a code on the registration form.

Food importers must also be residents of New Zealand (within the meaning of the Income Tax Act 2007).

Responsibilities of a registered food importer

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

Find out more about responsibilities of a registered food importer

Food importer registration

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Declare your intended use of imported food to avoid delay

We need to know if the food, drink, or ingredients you are importing will be sold as food for humans. 

Making your intended use declarations

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

Working tariff document – NZ Customs Service

This covers all products, not just the products intended to be used or sold as food.

One of these 8 codes must be used in your intended use declaration:

  • HC – Sale for human consumption
  • TS – Trade sample not for sale
  • AC – Animal consumption
  • PU – Personal use
  • FP – Further processing
  • RE – Import for re-export
  • LA – Laboratory analysis
  • SS – Seed for sowing

You will need to submit the lodgement with the intended use code completed for each tariff code or line.

If the import is for "further processing" or "import for re-export" but it is not food for sale, select the "Manual FACC Referral" (MFR) option in the Trade Single Window when making the lodgement. They will then be able to provide relevant information to border food safety officers who will assess if a food importer registration is required.

Note that if an intended use declaration is not made for each item in the lodgement, it will still be processed by New Zealand Customs Service and Biosecurity New Zealand. However, the imported products cannot be released from the system by New Zealand Food Safety until the declaration is completed.

Find out more

Import declaration requirements fact sheet – NZ Customs Service

Guidance: Change in declaration requirements for importers [PDF, 177 KB]

How to register – if you already have a Customs client code

1. Download the form

Customs NZCS 224 application to the Trade Single Window system – Customs' website

2. Fill in the form

  • Page 1 – Tick the 'Yes' box under 'Is this an update?' – because you already have a Customs client code.
  • Page 1 – Tick the 'Yes' box under 'Do you import food for sale?'.
  • Page 3 – Complete the food importer section, including payment details.
  • Fill in any other sections where you wish to update your details with New Zealand Customs.

Your registration won’t be completed until the fee has been paid. The cost is shown on the form.

3. Send the completed form to New Zealand Customs

Email clientupdate.request@customs.govt.nz

It may take up to 20 working days to process your application. If you haven’t provided the necessary information and paid the fee, it may take longer.

How to register – if you don't have a Customs client code

1. Download the form

Customs NZCS 224 application to the Trade Single Window system – Customs' website

2. Fill in the form

  • Complete all sections of the form.

  • Page 1 - Where it states 'Which client codes do you need?' make sure you select all that apply. 

    To import food you will need to select 'Importer' or 'Importer/Exporter'.
  • Page 1 – Tick the 'Yes' box under 'Do you import food for sale?'.

  • Page 3 – Complete the food importer section, including payment details.

Your registration won’t be completed until the fee has been paid. The cost is shown on the form.

3. Compile the necessary documentation

The documentation you will need to attach varies.

An individual
  • Photo ID
A registered company
  • Trading name.
  • The company’s certificate of incorporation.
  • List of directors.
  • Photo ID for each director.
A partnership or sole traders
  • Trading name.
  • List of all sole traders or partners.
  • Photo ID for each sole trader or employee.
Other organisations 
  • List of all trustees or relevant individuals.
  • A copy of the certificate for registered trusts/societies/charities.
  • Schools, sports clubs, and similar must supply a letterhead of the organisation. 

4. Send the completed form and documentation to NZ Customs

Email clientcodes@customs.govt.nz

It may take up to 20 working days to process your application. If you haven’t provided all necessary documentation and paid the fee, it may take longer.

Renewing your registration

Your registration needs to be renewed annually

Renewal reminders are emailed to your email contact before the expiry date. It has all the information you need to renew your registration.

The cost for renewal will be included in the email.

Failure to renew

If you fail to renew your registration before the expiry date, your registration will be cancelled.

If you wish to reinstate a cancelled food importer registration, you would have to apply for a new registration and pay the full fee.

Importing food without an active food registration may result in enforcement action. This could include an infringement fee of $450 or clearance of your imported food may be withheld.

Updating your registration

You will need to ensure your details with MPI and Customs are kept up to date. This will ensure you receive notifications and your annual reminder to renew your registration.

Minor changes

Minor changes to your food importer registration (such as contact information) can be made with MPI.

Significant changes

If you have any significant changes to make against your food importer registration (such as change in company name) you may also need to update your Customs Client code information using the 224 form.

You do not need to pay the initial registration fee again to do this.

Customs NZCS 224 – Client Registration Application – NZ Customs

If you need help, contact MPI:

Public register of food importers

A list of all registered food importers is publicly available.

Who to contact

If you have questions, contact MPI:

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