Steps to importing biological products

For imported biological products, including samples, there are special procedures to assess and minimise any biosecurity risks. We've created a step-by-step process so you can see what's involved.

Who to contact

If you have any questions about importing biological animal products, email

If your biological products are plant-based, email

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Follow the steps

Step 1
What you need to know

An overview of importing biological products from start to finish.

Types of biological products

This import process is for all non-viable (dead) biological products including samples (either animal, plant or microbial derived), like:

  • non-viable dairy, meat, and skin samples
  • commercially manufactured and packaged products such as effluent biodegraders containing enzymes
  • laboratory reagents including proteins, antigens, and sera
  • preserved animal specimens
  • veterinary medicines and supplements.

Find out about importing related products

When can biological products be imported?

Biological animal and plant products can be imported:

  • for laboratory research and diagnostic and analytical purposes (including equipment calibration and method validation)
  • as product samples for evaluation or testing (but not for microbial enrichment or isolation)
  • for environmental use
  • to use in or on humans (does not apply to medicines and implants)
  • for veterinary or horticultural use.

Biosecurity assessments for ACVM products

Some Agricultural Compound and Veterinary Medicine (ACVM) products will need a biosecurity assessment.

To successfully import biological animal and plant products you need to:

  • read the import health standard (IHS) and guidance document
  • apply for a permit at least 6 weeks before your items arrive in New Zealand
  • identify the risk status of your biological products
  • complete the declaration of potential risk goods form (when importing from a catalogue or list of products)
  • be aware of extra requirements under the Agricultural Compound and Veterinary Medicines (ACVM) Act, if applicable
  • know about the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES)
  • follow requirements set by other government agencies like the New Zealand Customs Service (NZ Customs)
  • meet all of the post-arrival quarantine needs and IHS requirements
  • know about relevant fees and charges.

Importing related products

Processes for importing products, organisms, or animals related to biological products are set out elsewhere on this website. Follow these steps if you're importing:

Step 2
What you need to do

The tasks you need to complete.

Meet import health standard (IHS) requirements

The import health standard (IHS) will tell what you need to do to successfully import your biological products and samples into New Zealand.

Download the IHS for biological products [PDF, 90 KB]

Use a different IHS for these biological products:

  • non-viable preserved animal specimens
  • surgical cat gut
  • porcine enzymes.

If your product is a non-viable preserved animal specimen, you won't need a permit to import it – as long as you meet the requirements in the IHS.

Refer to the biological products guidance document, if applicable

There is a guidance document for biological products, including samples, to help you meet the IHS requirements.

Download the guidance document for biological products [PDF, 263 KB]

Identify the risk status of your biological products, including catalogues

You'll need to identify the risk status of your biological products.

If you're applying to include a product catalogue or product list, you'll need to mention this in your permit application. A copy of the product catalogue, or product list, and a declaration of potential risk goods should be sent with the application.

Download the declaration form for potential risk goods [PDF, 233 KB]

You'll need to identify whether your biological products are a:

  • negligible risk
  • minimal risk
  • high risk.

Further information is provided in the guidance document, with a negligible-risk register listed in section 7.

Check what else you may need to do

To import a biological product you may need to comply with extra requirements. Veterinary medicines, supplements for animals, and agricultural compounds must comply with the Agricultural Compounds and Veterinary Medicines (ACVM) Act 1997 and regulations.

As part of your import assessment, you may be asked to complete a form providing further information. Download the application for biosecurity clearance for ACVM registration:

Comply with CITES

Specimens of wild animals and plants must comply with the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES).

Applying for a permit

The IHS and guidance document will tell you what type of permit you may need. (Products classed as 'negligible risk' do not need a permit.)

'Minimal-risk' products require a permit and will be cleared at the border. 'High-risk' biological products also require a permit, and must go into a transitional or containment facility when they arrive in New Zealand.

Use one of the below application forms for import of biological products related to animal or plants.

Application for permit to import biologicals, microorganisms and cell cultures (animal imports) [DOCX, 286 KB]

Application for Permit to Import plant derived material, microorganisms associated with plants, soil or water [DOCX, 108 KB]

The declaration of potential risk goods form has lists of negligible, minimal, and high-risk products.

Download the declaration form for potential risk goods [PDF, 233 KB]

If your product is a non-viable preserved animal specimen, you won't need a permit to import it – as long as you meet the requirements in the IHS.

Arranging facilities for high-risk goods

If the biological products you're importing are considered to be high risk, they will need to go into an MPI-approved transitional or containment facility.

High-risk biological products and samples can only be opened in a transitional facility that meets the standard for transitional facilities for biological products.

Preparing documentation for your biological products

The documentation that must accompany your biological products to New Zealand and be available for inspection include copies of the:

  • import permit, if required
  • declaration of potential risk goods, if required
  • product catalogue (or a reference to where it is located) or list, if required.

Transporting your biological products

To transport your biological products to New Zealand your carrier must comply with the International Air Transport Association (IATA) Dangerous Goods Regulations. In particular, the consignment should be clearly labelled and able to be identified with the item listed on the permit.

On arrival

Your documents will be inspected by a biosecurity officer when they arrive in New Zealand. Your goods may also be inspected.

If your biological products are not given clearance, they will be moved to a transitional facility at the border. After further investigation by a biosecurity officer, the items will either be given biosecurity clearance or be required to:

  • have further treatment
  • be shipped to another destination
  • be destroyed.
Step 3
Getting your import documentation

How you know you've met MPI requirements.

Your biological animal or plant products will be cleared for entry into New Zealand when you have:

  • completed all of the steps that apply to your consignment
  • had your documentation and biological products inspected and given biosecurity clearance by an MPI inspector.
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