Overview of the importing process

New Zealand has strict controls on what's imported into the country, to protect our environment, flora, fauna, and human health. MPI must be satisfied that imported goods, animals, plant products, or food don't harbour unwanted organisms before biosecurity clearance is given.

Preventing the entry and spread of pests and diseases

The increasing volume of trade and travel is placing extra pressure on our biosecurity systems. New pests and diseases can impact human health and damage agriculture or horticultural production, forestry, and tourism. They can also affect New Zealand's trade in international markets.

MPI has extensive controls in place to protect New Zealand from biosecurity risks across a wide range of products and commodities, including:

  • plants and plant products, including timber
  • animal products and animals, including pets
  • biological products and organisms
  • food
  • vessels and aircraft containers and cargo.

MPI also places restrictions on where aircraft and seacraft can arrive in New Zealand to make sure proper inspections can take place of the craft, passengers, and cargo.

The role of our laboratories

Our laboratories have an important role in supporting trade. They help:

  • protect New Zealand's primary industries and the environment from suspected exotic organisms
  • reassure our trading partners that New Zealand is free of certain pests and diseases.

The importing process

Before you start importing, you need to make sure you're allowed to import the particular product, animal, or item. You should first check out any biosecurity import rules and restrictions and also check with the New Zealand Customs Service (Customs).

If the product is allowed into the country, you'll also have to satisfy MPI that it meets our import regulations and rules and does not pose a biosecurity risk. If it's a food product, MPI will also want to make sure it meets food safety and labelling requirements.

Follow import health standards

Any items or products that could potentially contain unwanted pests or organisms are subject to an import health standard. These standards are mainly done on a country-commodity basis. The standards contain detailed information about the requirements you have to meet to successfully import your consignment and prove to MPI there is no biosecurity risk.

Food importers have to meet additional requirements

Food may only be imported into New Zealand if it is safe and suitable and meets New Zealand standards for consumption.

Food importers must register with MPI and follow the food importing standards in place.

MPI also regularly monitors imported food to ensure it is safe and suitable.

Import certificates

To clear many goods for import into New Zealand, MPI requires certificates issued by the appropriate government agency of the exporting country. These certificates contain assurances about the health of the animal or plant, or the safety of imported food.

If you need an import certificate, it will tell you in the import health standard for your product or the Importing Food Notice.

Find your import health standard

Food Notice: Importing Food [PDF, 583 KB]

Electronic certificates possible for some products and countries

The certificates required for import have traditionally been supplied on paper. These certificates have security features depending on the country of export.

Electronic certificates are becoming more common. These allow the information to be exchanged directly between the exporting and importing governments. This helps ensure the information is authentic, and improves speed and efficiency at the border.

Where electronic certificates are available for imports you may also need to supply the paper certificates. For other markets the exchange of certificates may be completely paperless (no paper certificate is generated).

Table of electronic certification – countries and commodities

This table shows the commodities and countries for which MPI receives electronic certificates in parallel with paper certificates. Where the exchange is to become (or has become) paperless, the date is given.

Country

Commodities

Date of the move to paperless (only electronic)

Argentina

Plant and plant products

 

Australia

  • Meat, meat products, casings and tallow for human consumption
  • Meat, meat products, offal and tallow for terrestrial animal consumption
  • Dairy products for human consumption
  • Dairy products not for human consumption
Fish for human consumption

 

22 September 2020

Australia

Plant and plant products

31 August 2020

Fiji

Plant and plant products

 

Indonesia

Plant and plant products

 

Samoa

Plant and plant products

 

United States of America

Plant and plant products

 

If you are importing products from countries which supply electronic certificates, you can reduce any delays at the border by either:

  • indicating the certificate number on your import lodgement in the Trade Single Window, or
  • attaching a PDF copy of the certificate (where paper certificates are available in parallel).

This will allow MPI to process your lodgement without having to ask for the originals.

Note that where the electronic certificate is provided in parallel with a paper certificate you should retain the paper copy in your records. You may need to supply the original document to MPI in some situation, such as if there are technical issues.

Goods accompanying travellers or sent through the mail or courier services will still need to be accompanied by a paper certificate.

Import certificates for re-export

Animal products

If you need a certified copy of a sanitary certificate received electronically, to support re-export with certification through AP E-cert, contact your "01/172 verifier" or email dairy.certification@mpi.govt.nz

You'll need to give us:

  • the certificate number
  • the country of origin, and
  • if you are not the consignee indicated on the certificate, confirmation from the consignee that you are permitted to have access to the document.

01/172 OMAR notification regarding re-export [PDF, 163 KB]

Phytosanitary

If you need a copy of a phytosanitary certificate received electronically, to support re-export, email plantassurance@mpi.govt.nz

There is a charge for this service. You will need to give us:

  • the certificate number
  • the country of origin, and
  • a completed Request for services form agreeing to pay for this.

Download the Request for services form [DOC, 93 KB]

Copies will only be provided to the consignee or IVA unless confirmation from the consignee is provided permitting the requestor to have access to the document.

Transitional and containment facilities

All sea containers arriving in New Zealand need to be taken to a transitional facility and unpacked there. Some higher risk imports – especially plants, animals, and related products – may need to be quarantined or held in a transitional or containment facility.

Transitional facilities hold, inspect, treat, identify, or destroy and dispose of uncleared risk goods imported into New Zealand. They operate under a standard that details the minimum requirements for approval and monitoring transitional facilities functions.

Treatments must be applied by approved operators

MPI has a responsibility to ensure any treatments applied to imported risk goods offer the best practicable level of control. MPI approves and oversees treatments and treatment providers. This ensures that only competent organisations and individuals are involved with the delivery of official treatment activities.

Search for an approved treatment provider [PDF, 238 KB]

Offshore treatment providers

MPI does not approve offshore treatment providers. MPI recommends that you consider using treatment providers approved by other biosecurity agencies in:

  • Fiji
  • India
  • Indonesia
  • Lao
  • Malaysia
  • Papua New Guinea
  • Peru
  • Philippines
  • Sri Lanka
  • Thailand
  • Vietnam.

The status of the treatment provider can be checked on the Australian Department of Agriculture and Water Resources Australian website.

Search for treatment providers offshore for methyl bromide treatment only

Step-by-step guides

To help you understand and comply with MPI requirements and import health standards, we've developed step-by-step guides. These will show you what's involved, and refer to all the related documents in one place.

Who to contact

If you have questions about importing, email info@mpi.govt.nz

Last reviewed: