Steps to importing cut flowers and foliage

If you want to import fresh cut flowers and foliage for decorative purposes then you need to meet the biosecurity and plant health requirements. We've created a step-by-step process so you can see what's involved.

Follow the steps 

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Step 1: What you need to know

An overview of importing cut flowers and foliage from start to finish.

Types of cut flowers and foliage

Cut flowers and foliage include fresh flowers, stems, and foliage used for decorative purposes but not for propagation or planting.

Plant material for propagation (cuttings, tissue cultures, and roots), and dried flowers and foliage, have different import regulations. Refer to the requirements for importing:

To import cut flowers and foliage successfully you need to:

  • know whether the plant species is approved for import from the country of origin (where it's grown)
  • know about the phytosanitary import requirements listed in the import health standard (IHS)
  • know about labelling and packaging requirements
  • arrange any pre-departure inspections and treatments required
  • submit documentation
  • get a New Zealand Customs permit
  • arrange any on-arrival treatments required
  • book an inspection for pests or contaminants
  • get a Biosecurity Authority Clearance Certificate (BACC)
  • book pest treatments, re-shipment or disposal if required
  • pay relevant fees and charges.

Do preliminary research

New Zealand has strict biosecurity rules to prevent the entry and spread of harmful pests and diseases. You need to check with MPI and other agencies to see if:

  • you can import the product
  • the product will be subject to duties or tariffs
  • a New Zealand Customs permit is needed
  • the product is subject to biosecurity controls or regulations.
Step 2: What you need to do

The tasks you need to complete.

Check country and species lists

Other than Cordyline and Dracaena, only certain species of cut flowers, foliage, and branches can be imported and they have to be from approved countries. You can find out what species can be imported for each country in Appendix 1 of the import health standard (IHS) for cut flowers and foliage.

Download Appendix 1 of the cut flowers and foliage IHS [PDF, 682 KB]

If your species is not listed in Appendix 1 or is listed as 'prohibited' then it cannot be imported into New Zealand.

However, you can ask MPI to develop an IHS for your plant species if it's not listed.

Comply with IHS requirements for your species

If you can import your species, you'll need to comply with the relevant IHS requirements. 

IHS for cut flowers and branches of Cordyline and Dracaena species from all countries [PDF, 421 KB]

IHS for cut flowers and foliage of all other species [PDF, 240 KB]

Ask MPI if you're not sure

If you have questions about the IHS requirements, email

Check other agencies' import restrictions 

Check with the New Zealand Customs Service to see if:

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

Visit the NZ Customs website to:

The tariff classification of the goods you want to import will indicate whether you need a customs permit.

You should also visit the Department of Conservation (DoC) website to:

Meet phytosanitary requirements

All imported cut flowers and foliage products need a phytosanitary certificate, which is issued in the country of production (the export country).

Phytosanitary requirements are listed in the import health standards (IHS) and Appendix 1 of the cut flowers and foliage IHS.

To meet the requirements you may need to complete some or all of these tasks before your products are shipped:

  • inspection for pests and diseases
  • fumigation
  • treatment to prevent propagation into new plants (a process called devitalisation)
  • arranging approved packaging and shipping materials that are free of soil or other contaminants
  • labelling with the product's scientific (genus and species) name
  • meeting other requirements listed in the IHS or Appendix 1.

Apply for a phytosanitary certificate

For queries about phytosanitary certificates or to apply for a certificate, contact the export agent or the relevant National Plant Protection Organisation (NPPO, an equivalent agency to MPI) in the country of export. You can find contact details on the International Plants Protection Convention (IPPC) website.

A phytosanitary certificate is issued when the NPPO contact point agent is satisfied that the IHS requirements have been met. The phytosanitary certificate must be included with your consignment of cut flowers or foliage.

Check the requirements for packaging materials

If you use packaging such as wood crates or peat there are extra requirements or restrictions, to ensure there are no hidden pests or diseases.

Comply with labelling requirements

Your consignment must be clearly labelled with all the scientific (genus and species) names of the plant species.

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.

Submit all required documentation 48 hours prior to arrival

You or your customs broker need to make sure that all the documents required are submitted to the New Zealand Customs Service or MPI at least 48 hours before the consignment arrives in New Zealand.

A copy of the phytosanitary certificate must be included. Other documents may include:

  • treatment certificates
  • a purchase invoice
  • the bill of lading (issued by a carrier showing details of the consignment and ownership).

Comply with any fumigation treatment required

Some cut flower and foliage species must be fumigated with methyl bromide on arrival, whether or not there are visual signs of pests or diseases. The affected species are specified in Appendix 1 of the IHS.

Comply with on-arrival inspections

An MPI inspector will check your cut flowers and foliage when they arrive in New Zealand to make sure they comply with the IHS and are free of contaminants. Your customs broker should book the inspection at a suitable time and location. The inspection will include a visual check of a sample from the consignment and checks for:

  • correct documentation, including the phytosanitary certificate
  • correct labelling with the plant scientific name (genus or genus and species, as listed in Appendix 1 of the IHS)
  • packaging that is free of contaminants (detritus, soil, disease, and pests).

Download Appendix 1 of the cut flowers and foliage IHS [PDF, 682 KB]

The MPI inspector issues a Biosecurity Authority Clearance Certificate (BACC) to identify any actions needed for a consignment. These may include:

  • documents needing to be corrected
  • further treatments required.

What to do about contamination

If contamination (like live organisms or soil) is found in a container of your cut flowers and foliage, the MPI inspector will inform you of the options for your consignment. Depending on the type of contamination, you may choose to:

  • identify the organism (and treat it, if the organism is identified as a restricted pest)
  • treat the container or consignment for the organism (for example, by fumigation)
  • ship the product to another destination
  • destroy the product.

Find an MPI-approved pest identification service [PDF, 192 KB]

The quantities of contaminants allowed in a sample are specified in section 2.9.10 of the IHS.

Arrange for any additional treatment required

If treatment is required when your product arrives in New Zealand it needs to be carried out by an approved treatment supplier. Treatment can include fumigation, dips, or sprays for insects, mites, or fungi.

Find an approved treatment supplier [PDF, 285 KB]


Step 3: Getting your import documents

How you know you've met MPI requirements.

Check that you or your customs agent have completed the following tasks for your shipment.


  • Ensure IHS requirements have been 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 has been approved.
  • Include the original phytosanitary certificate with the consignment.
  • Submit documentation to the New Zealand Customs Service and MPI at least 48 hours before the consignment arrives in New Zealand.

On arrival

  • Supply correct documentation, including a phytosanitary certificate.
  • Comply with any treatment required (fumigation or devitalisation).
  • Comply with treatments or disposal specified in the Biosecurity Authority Clearance Certificate (BACC).

Your product can be imported once all requirements have been met. MPI issues a BACC to confirm that the consignment has been released.

Returned or rejected consignments

Contact MPI to find out what special conditions apply for cut flowers or foliage produced in New Zealand that are being returned from overseas.

Who to contact

If you have a question about importing cut flowers and foliage, email

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