Steps to importing cell cultures
To import viable cells and cell cultures into New Zealand 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 – all in one place.
Follow the steps
To successfully import cell cultures into New Zealand you need to know about:
- the import health standard (IHS)
- applying for a permit at least 6 weeks before your items arrive in New Zealand
- HSNO (Hazardous Substances and New Organisms) Act approvals from the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) for any new or genetically modified organism (GMO)
- completing a declaration for the assessment of biological catalogues, if required
- the Convention on International Trade of Endangered Species (CITES)
- requirements set by other government agencies like NZ Customs
- approved containment facilities for microorganisms and cell cultures
- meeting all of the post-arrival quarantine needs and IHS requirements
- fees and charges.
Importing related products
Processes for importing products related to cell cultures are elsewhere on the website. Follow these steps if you're importing:
Comply with import health standard requirements
The relevant import health standard (IHS) will tell what you need to do to successfully import your cell cultures into New Zealand.
Download the IHS for cell cultures from all countries [PDF, 311 KB]
Identify the risk status of your cell cultures
To import your cell cultures you'll need to identify their risk status by:
- searching the Hazardous Substances and New Organisms (HSNO) register and getting a HSNO approval code
- searching for your item on the Biosecurity Organisms Register for Imported Commodities (BORIC) to see if your item is regulated (applies if your cell cultures are plant related)
- checking that the cells are not derived from unwanted organisms.
Search the HSNO register and get HSNO Act approval code
To get HSNO Act approval code you will need to search the register on the EPA's website.
When importing viable cells, you must check that they are not regulated by the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA). Regulated organisms include all genetically modified organisms.
If the organism is not listed on the HSNO register contact the EPA:
- email firstname.lastname@example.org
- phone +64 4 474 5591.
If the organism is listed on the HSNO register and the approval code begins with BER, PNZ or S26 and it is not an unwanted organism or regulated in BORIC, then it can come in on a general permit to import. Include the approval code on the permit application form.
Organisms that only have EPA approval codes that begin with NOC or GMC will need to come in on a restricted import permit and will be directed into a transitional or containment facility.
EPA approval codes starting with GMD are not used for import purposes.
If an organism is listed as present in New Zealand by the EPA but also appears on the Unwanted Organism Register or is classed as 'regulated' in BORIC, contact MPI for advice.
Search the BORIC register
The Biosecurity Organisms Register for Imported Commodities (BORIC) records organisms that may be associated with plants or plant products that are imported into New Zealand. The quarantine status for each species is indicated as regulated or non-regulated.
Search the unwanted organisms database
When importing viable cells, you must check that they are not derived from unwanted organisms.
To import an unwanted organism, you must:
- apply for a MPI Chief Technical Officer (CTO) approval to import under section 52 and 53 of the Biosecurities Act 1993
- apply for a restricted permit from MPI. The permit will specify that the cells will be directed to an MPI-approved containment facility
- complete the permit application form and email it to: email@example.com.
Complete the declaration for the assessment of biological catalogues
If the items you want to import are part of a catalogue, then you will have to complete the declaration for the assessment of biological catalogues form.
Complete the form, attach it to the product catalogue and send it to MPI with your other documents.
Check what else you may need to do
To import cells or cell cultures, you may need to comply with additional requirements such as, but not limited to:
- checking the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora because the specimens of, or derived from, wild animals and plants may be restricted under.
Apply for a permit
A permit is required to import all cells or cell cultures.
Download the permit application to import biological products, microorganisms, and cell cultures:
Prepare documentation for your cell cultures
Copies of the following documentation will need to accompany your cells or cell cultures on arrival in New Zealand:
- import permit
- copies of, or reference to, the HSNO approval, if required
- product catalogue (or a reference to where this can be found) or list, if required.
For transporting your cells or cell cultures to New Zealand your items must comply with 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 in New Zealand your documentation will be inspected by a biosecurity officer.
Your goods may also be inspected.
If your cell cultures documentation is not acceptable, they will be moved to a transitional facility at the border. After additional investigation by a biosecurity officer, the items will either:
- be given biosecurity direction and transferred to a transitional or containment facility
- be reshipped or
Your cell cultures will be directed to a transitional or containment facility in New Zealand when you have:
- completed all of the steps
- had your documentation inspected and a direction given by an MPI inspector to an approved containment facility.
All cells or cell cultures are required to be imported into an MPI-approved transitional or containment facility that meets the standard for facilities for microorganisms and cell cultures.
Types of cell cultures
This process is for all cell cultures being imported into New Zealand like:
- cell cultures and cell lines
- non-microbial cells
- cell cultures that are genetically modified or are new organisms
- cell cultures derived from tissues of unwanted organisms.
Who to contact
If you have questions about importing cell cultures derived from: