Steps to importing inorganic materials

If you want to import inorganic materials, you need to meet biosecurity and other requirements. We've created a step-by-step process so you can see what's involved.

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What you need to know

An overview of importing inorganic materials.

What this process covers

This import process covers inorganic materials including:

  • full container loads of:
    • glass or scrap metal for recycling
    • industrial residues and waste for precious metal recovery
    • used parts and vehicle batteries
    • material for disposal, such as asbestos
  • bulk inorganic fertilisers (not in containers or bags) – includes guano.

Importing related materials

Processes for importing related materials are on other web pages. Follow these steps if you are importing:

To successfully import inorganic materials you need to know:

  • what the product is being imported for
  • what country the product is coming from
  • the product's contents
  • the import health standard requirements for your product
  • inspection and treatment requirements
  • relevant fees and charges
  • New Zealand Customs Service requirements
  • about using a customs broker.

More details about MPI's requirements are in Step 2 – What you need to do.

Check Customs Service requirements

Check with the New Zealand Customs Service (Customs) to find out if:

  • you can import the product without restriction
  • the product will be subject to duties or tariffs
  • a Customs permit is needed.
What you need to do

Check and comply with the import health standard.

Engage a customs broker, agent, or freight forwarder (recommended)

A New Zealand broker, agent, or freight forwarder will help you with the arrival part of the process, such as:

  • making sure you have all the required documentation
  • booking inspections of your consignment.

Only registered customs brokers or qualified importers can access some Customs information.

Customs brokers and freight forwarders are usually listed in New Zealand business directories under those headings. Or you can check with the Customs Brokers and Freight Forwarders Federation for a list of its members.

Check the relevant IHS for biosecurity requirements

Biosecurity requirements are detailed in documents called import health standards (IHS). The IHS details what you need to do to successfully import your product.

The IHS outlines:

  • the types of materials it covers
  • general biosecurity requirements for entry into New Zealand
  • specific requirements by material type and end use (including documents you might need).

Read the relevant IHS carefully to make sure you can comply with all the requirements.

Check whether your inorganic material needs treatment

You may need to get the material treated and inspected. This is to make sure it isn’t contaminated with unwanted pests or diseases. Check the IHS to find out what you have to do for your product type.

Ask about importing under equivalence, if needed

If your product doesn't meet all of the IHS requirements (for example, it’s been treated using a different method from the ones in the IHS), you can ask MPI to assess it under equivalent measures. This is known as 'equivalence'.

You'll need to provide us with information that shows how any risks will be managed to an equivalent level to the IHS. For example, you might provide information about alternative treatment and processing.

To ask about equivalence, email

Import permit not required

Unlike other imported products, you don’t need an import permit from MPI for:

  • glass and industrial waste for recycling
  • used parts and batteries
  • products like asbestos for disposal
  • bulk fertiliser.

Arrange transitional storage, if needed

MPI approves transitional facilities to hold and manage imported goods that might have a biosecurity risk. The products may need to be inspected or treated at a transitional facility before they can be cleared by MPI.

Before your goods arrive in New Zealand, you or your customs broker may need to arrange for your goods to be transferred to a transitional facility.

Comply with packaging requirements

Bulk inorganic fertiliser is transported loose in vessel holds. It does not need to be packaged.

You can only import full container loads of materials like glass, industrial residues or waste, scrap metal, used parts, and batteries. Containers with a mixed load will not be allowed into New Zealand.

Consider applying for a Biosecurity Authority Clearance Certificate in advance

If your consignment is unaccompanied, we recommend you or your agent applies for a Biosecurity Authority Clearance Certificate (BACC) before it arrives in New Zealand. A BACC can be issued at the border, but if you apply while your consignment is in transit, it can speed up border clearance.

Apply for a BACC (cover sheet) [PDF, 303 KB]

Prepare documents before your goods arrive

You or your customs broker need to make sure you have all the necessary documents before your goods arrive in New Zealand.

Documents you may need to supply include:

  • BACC number (if pre-arranged)
  • treatment certificates
  • a purchase invoice
  • the bill of lading.

Comply with on-arrival inspections

An inspector may check your documentation and the consignment when it arrives in New Zealand to make sure it complies with the IHS. The inspector will check that the consignment is:

  • as described
  • free from contaminants, such as organic matter and pests.

If your consignment doesn't comply on arrival

If pests or contaminants are detected, an inspector will explain your options.

Depending on the type of contaminant, you may choose to:

  • identify the organism and treat, if it's a restricted pest
  • have the container or consignment treated by an approved provider
  • return the product to its country of origin
  • destroy the product.

MPI-approved pest identification services [PDF, 192 KB]

Arrange treatments or testing, if needed

If your product has to be treated when it arrives in New Zealand, this must be done by an approved treatment provider.

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

Approved treatment providers [PDF, 285 KB]

Approved biosecurity treatments [PDF, 1.1 MB]

Getting your import documentation

How to know you've met MPI requirements.

Your consignment will be cleared when the inspector is satisfied all documentation is complete and the import conditions of the import health standard (IHS) have been met.

You'll be issued with a Biosecurity Authority Clearance Certificate (BACC). This confirms that the consignment has been given a biosecurity clearance.

Who to contact

If you have any questions about importing inorganic materials, email

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