Food imports

All food imported for sale in New Zealand must be safe, fit for human consumption, uncontaminated, and imported through a registered importer.

Requirements for food importers

If you want to import food for sale in New Zealand, you must register as a food importer with MPI or use an agent who is registered. 

MPI lists registered food importers in a public database.

Note: To register as a food importer you or your company must be a New Zealand resident as defined in sections YD1 (for persons) or YD2 (for companies) of the Income Tax Act 2007.

Becoming a registered food importer

Read our guidance on becoming a registered food importer

Find out more

Read these guides to learn more about importing.

Food safety requirements of registered food importers

Registered food importers must meet food safety requirements set under the Food Act 2014. These include:

  • confirming the safety and suitability of food they import
  • safely handling and transporting food
  • meeting specific requirements for foods identified as presenting a higher risk to consumers, also known as foods of high or increased regulatory interest.

Source safe and suitable food

Not all food is safe. You should check your supplier complies with food safety rules in their country, and check the foods imported will comply with the:

Keep food safe

You must make sure food is kept at the right temperature, protected from pests, and kept separate from other products that could contaminate it.

Keep good records

Registered food importers need to keep records that confirm that the food is safe and suitable. The records need to show how the:

  • food complies with New Zealand legislation
  • food importer can be confident that the food products have been produced, transported, and stored in a way that ensures it is safe and suitable.

You must have procedures and record-keeping in place so you can trace where your product has come from (suppliers), where it goes to (retailers), and to enable recall of products if necessary.

Meet labelling and composition requirements

Food must comply with the Australia and New Zealand Food Standards Code. This sets rules about what's allowed and not allowed in your food, and how it must be labelled.

Foods with extra requirements

Some foods present a greater risk to consumers and public health. They're known as foods of high regulatory interest or foods of increased regulatory interest. These foods normally require a food safety clearance and are monitored for specific hazards.
Foods that are of high regulatory interest or increased regulatory interest and the clearance requirements for these are listed in the Food Notice: Importing food.

Foods of regulatory interest stopped at NZ border

MPI-approved laboratories test targeted foods for hazards before they are cleared for entry into New Zealand.

We list imported foods that have failed food safety tests in our 6-monthly Imported food rejections report. Food consignments that have failed testing requirements aren't allowed into New Zealand – they must either be destroyed by the importer or returned to the country of origin.

Legal obligations

Food importers also have legal obligations they must meet under the:

  • Biosecurity Act 1993
  • Animal Products Act 1999
  • Agricultural Compounds and Veterinary Medicines Act 1997
  • Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code.

Find more information for the products you import

Involved in other food activities?

If your business involves more than just importing food (like storing, transporting or selling food in a shop) you may need to register under a national programme or food control plan as well.

Last reviewed: