Steps to importing timber

To import timber, you need to meet the treatment, packing, and plant health (phytosanitary) requirements outlined in the import health standard (IHS) for your timber. We've created a step-by-step process so you can see what's involved.

Follow the steps 

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What you need to know

An overview of importing timber from start to finish.

To import timber you need to know about:

  • the requirements listed in the import health standard (IHS) for your size of timber
  • treatment requirements if you're importing Pinus radiata wood
  • having your timber treated – if needed – more than 21 days before export
  • treatment specifications in the IHS for your timber
  • the correct documentation
  • packing requirements, if applicable
  • relevant fees and charges.

Are you using wood packaging?

If you're using packaging made from wood in your consignment (like wood pallets and dunnage) you'll also need to make sure the packaging complies with requirements.

Check restrictions on importing some timber species

The import of many endangered plant species is restricted by the Convention on International Trade with Endangered Species (CITES). Visit the Department of Conservation website to check whether your timber is restricted.

What you need to do

The tasks you need to complete.

Consider using a customs broker

A customs broker will help you get import entry clearance. Some services provided by the New Zealand Customs Service 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.

Check the import health standard (IHS) for your timber

An import health standard (IHS) describes the conditions you must meet to be able to import your timber.

If you are importing timber up to 300 mm in width, refer to the IHS for sawn wood.

Read the IHS for sawn wood from all countries [PDF, 818 KB]

If you are importing sleepers and timber thicker than 300 mm, refer to the IHS for poles, piles, rounds, and sleepers.

Read the IHS for poles, piles, rounds, and sleepers [PDF, 808 KB]

Comply with phytosanitary requirements

Before your timber leaves its country of export for New Zealand, it should meet the phytosanitary requirements detailed in the IHS. You may need to follow specific treatment, cleanliness, and certification requirements. 

Check the IHS for the phytosanitary requirements for your product.

Apply for a phytosanitary certificate, if needed

If you need a phytosanitary certificate, you need to get one from the National Plant Protection Organisation (NPPO) in the country of export. To apply for a certificate, either arrange for your customs broker to apply on your behalf or contact the NPPO yourself.

A phytosanitary certificate is issued when the NPPO is satisfied that:

  • it can certify the identity of the timber
  • the timber has been appropriately treated
  • any declarations about the treatment can be made on the treatment certificate.

A copy of the certificate must be included with your consignment.

Arrange treatment, if needed

The IHS for your timber will tell you whether it needs to be treated before being shipped to New Zealand, and what treatment is required. If you need to arrange treatment, contact the National Plant Protection Organisation (NPPO) in the country of export to find out about treatment providers.

Timber from Pinus radiata must be treated before export

If you're importing Pinus radiata timber, you must get the wood treated at least 21 days before export. Refer to the IHS for treatment specifications for your timber.

Make sure you get certification for the treatment

Treated timber should be accompanied by a treatment certificate. The treatment certificate needs to be issued by an approved authority, like the NPPO in the country of export. Check your IHS for the treatment certificate requirements.

Comply with on-arrival inspections

When your timber arrives in New Zealand, the documentation will be checked and the product may be inspected by an MPI inspector to make sure it complies with the IHS. The inspection includes checks for:

  • signs of pests or contaminants (bark, soil, twigs, leaves)
  • appropriate packaging, if needed
  • correct documentation.

If your timber does not comply

If your timber doesn't meet the IHS requirements or is seriously contaminated (such as with live organisms) when it arrives in New Zealand, you'll need to do one of the following:

  • treat the timber (for example by fumigation)
  • identify the organism (and treat if a restricted pest)
  • ship the timber to another destination
  • destroy the timber.

All treatments have to be done by an approved treatment provider at a transitional facility.

You are liable for any costs associated with non-compliance or contamination.

Search for an approved treatment provider [PDF, 285 KB]

Fungal contamination of timber

If fungal contamination is found and the import documentation does not sufficiently identify different lots (differentiated by species, sourced from different saw mill companies or locations) then the consignment will be considered homogenous and the whole consignment will require treatment, potentially increasing costs significantly. Importers are recommended to supply invoices or other source of origin documentation to differentiate lots within the consignment at the time of first application for biosecurity clearance.

Getting your import documents

How you know you've met MPI requirements.

Your timber is cleared by MPI for import into New Zealand when the requirements of the IHS for your timber are met.

You'll also need to check with other agencies, like the New Zealand Customs Service, whether there is anything else you need to do to import your timber.

Types of timber for import

Timber for import includes sawn wood, lumber, half rounds, mouldings, dowelling, laminated beams, poles, piles, and sleepers.

Who to contact

If you have queries about offshore treatment or phytosanitary certificates, contact the exporting country's National Plant Protection Organisation (NPPO) or your customs broker.

For other questions about importing timber, email

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