Steps to importing agricultural chemicals
Strict importing requirements are in place to ensure agricultural chemicals are properly authorised. This is to make sure they don't cause public health problems, jeopardise trade in primary produce, harm animals, or be a source of pests or unwanted organisms. We've created a step-by-step process so you can see what's involved.
Follow the steps
What this import process covers
Agricultural chemical products include:
- herbicides, fungicides, insecticides, and other pesticides
- plant growth regulators
- substances added to improve the effectiveness of agricultural chemicals, such as surfactants and adjuvants.
This import process doesn't cover chemical products not regulated under the ACVM Act, like public health insecticides, household fly sprays, or herbicides used in industrial settings where plants and animals are not being managed.
Chemicals used on animals to treat pests and diseases are called veterinary medicines.
To import agricultural chemicals successfully you need to know:
- if the product is subject to the Agricultural Compounds and Veterinary Medicines (ACVM) Act
- whether or not the product is authorised for importation under the ACVM Act
- if there are requirements under other legislation, such as the Hazardous Substances and New Organisms (HSNO) Act 1996, that must be met
- if there are any forms to fill out
- if there will be any fees or charges.
Buying products from overseas or online
Overseas brands may look just the same as agricultural chemical products on sale in New Zealand, but most of the time they're not. Only products that are authorised for use in New Zealand can be imported.
Registered products must show the ACVM registration number on the label in one of the following ways:
- "Registered pursuant to the ACVM Act 1997, No. ...." (number)
- "ACVM Registration No. ...." (number)
- "ACVM No. ...." (number).
You can import exempted products but you may need a class determination letter to show the border inspector. More information about class determinations is in Step 2: What you need to do.
All products are inspected at the border and if import requirements are not met, products are confiscated and destroyed by MPI or returned to the sender at your expense.
Check with other agencies
Check with other agencies before you start importing. They may have extra restrictions or requirements to MPI.
Visit the NZ Customs website to:
Identify if your product falls under the ACVM Act
Agricultural chemicals are a type of agricultural compound that are used on plants. They range from herbicides and insecticides to plant growth regulators. You need to be sure your product is an agricultural compound that comes under the Agricultural Compounds and Veterinary Medicines (ACVM) Act 1997.
Read our guidelines
To help you better understand our requirements, MPI has produced guides to products regulated under the ACVM Act and product exemptions:
Download a guide to ACVM products and exemptions [PDF, 428 KB]
Guidance on regulation under the ACVM Act [PDF, 217 KB]
If you're unsure whether your product is subject to the ACVM Act, you can ask MPI to determine this for you. It's called a class determination. Fees apply. More information about class determinations are on this page.
Find out what authorisation is required
After you've determined your product is an agricultural compound, the next step is to decide what type of authorisation it must have.
Agricultural chemicals must be authorised before they can be imported. Authorisation is usually one of 2 types:
- Current New Zealand registration of the product – this applies to most agricultural chemical products
- Exemption from registration (subject to conditions) – this applies to some types or groups of lower-risk profile products.
If your product does not meet any of the types of authorisation, it cannot be imported. If registration is required, it will take several months to approve. Importing will not be permitted until the process is completed.
1. Current registration
Find out if your product has a current New Zealand registration. Registration means that MPI has assessed the ACVM risks associated with the product, it meets New Zealand's ACVM Act requirements and can be imported. Border clearance officials check the product label to clear the product for entry into New Zealand.
You can check current registration by looking for the ACVM registration statement on the product label. This will give the registration status. If it doesn’t have the registration number, it cannot be imported.
2. Exemption from registration
Some lower-risk profile agricultural chemicals are exempt from registration.
Check the flowchart in the guide to ACVM products to see if your product is included in one of the product groups exempted from registration.
Download a guide to ACVM products and exemptions [PDF, 428 KB] [PDF, 428 KB]
Conditions of exemption are in the ACVM (Exemptions and Prohibited Substances) Regulations 2011 (Schedule 2).
During the border clearance process, officials inspect the product for evidence that it is exempt from registration. Officials will not clear the imports if they're not sure.
You may have to request MPI to determine the 'exempt' status before the product will be cleared.
We recommend that you request a class determination before you start importing if you're unsure if it's exempt. Fees apply.
Biosecurity clearance needed for some ingredients
If your product contains organisms or ingredients of animal or plant origin, you must have a biosecurity clearance.
Product registrants may get approval if products are incorrectly labelled
If you are the registrant of a product and want to import it without the approved New Zealand label, complete the approval application form. Fees apply.
Ask MPI for a class determination if:
- you're unsure you can import your product or what requirements you need to meet
- you need proof your product is not regulated by the ACVM Act
- you need proof your product is exempt from registration under the Act.
Fees apply. MPI will send you a class determination outcome letter about your product.
Read about applying for a class determination by MPI:
- Products regulated under the ACVM Act [PDF, 428 KB]
- Guidelines [PDF, 244 KB]
- Download the application form to request a class determination [DOC, 435 KB]
A class determination letter is valid for 3 years and must be shown to border clearance officials.
Prepare documents before your consignment arrives
You need to make sure you have all the necessary approvals and documentation before your goods arrive in New Zealand. The documents you may need include:
- a current class determination outcome letter
- a biosecurity clearance.
Comply with on-arrival inspections
An MPI inspector will check your product and documentation when your consignment arrives in New Zealand.
If your product arrives without meeting the requirements, it will be held at the port of arrival.
Following an assessment, the quarantine inspector will advise you that your product will:
- not be cleared unless authorisation status is confirmed (class determination for an exempt from registration product)
- be returned to sender at your expense, or
- be confiscated and destroyed by MPI.
Your agricultural chemicals will be cleared for entry into New Zealand when you have:
- completed all of the steps that apply to your consignment
- had your products inspected and given clearance by border officials.
Who to contact
If you have any questions about importing agricultural chemicals, email firstname.lastname@example.org
For questions about biosecurity clearance of agricultural chemicals, email email@example.com
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