Meeting new requirements for air containers from all countries

Information about the Import Health Standard: Air Containers from All Countries that came into force on 5 April 2018.

New biosecurity requirements

The Import Health Standard (IHS) requires importers (airlines, airline agents, and airline service providers) to:

  • provide a manifest for those air containers carrying freight
  • ensure all air containers and packaging are clean and free from biosecurity pests and contaminants by adopting a method listed in the IHS
  • report any findings of biosecurity pests and contaminants (listed in schedule 2 of the IHS) to MPI.

Import Health Standard: Air Containers from All Countries [PDF, 503 KB]

Making sure containers are clean

The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) has been in contact with each airport (Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch, Dunedin, and Queenstown) to discuss methods to ensure air containers are clean of biosecurity pests and contaminants. Proposed methods can be:

  • confirmation from an accredited person unloading an air container
  • confirmation that the air container has been through an MPI-approved system (like an offshore system prior to arrival to New Zealand)
  • making arrangements for an air container to be inspected by an inspector.

What do operators of airports need to do?

Airports are approved (through the MPI standard Approved Places of First Arrival) to receive specific offshore craft and cargo types. Airports currently approved to receive air containers must ensure that their airline service providers (baggage handlers at the airport) have the appropriately trained Accredited Person (AP) that can supervise the unloading of air containers or carry out the unloading of air containers.

What do operators of transitional facilities for air freight and mail need to do?

Air containers that travel to a transitional facility must be unpacked by an Accredited Person. Transitional facility operators must ensure that they have trained Accredited Persons available each shift and relevant to the workload (scheduled flights per shift) to ensure all air containers are clear of biosecurity contaminants.

Review your biosecurity system before 5 April 2018. Assistance is available by requesting a visit fromana MPI inspector prior to the enforcement date.

For assistance with baggage cans:

  • Auckland (Craig.Hawthorne@mpi.govt.nz)
  • Christchurch (Chris.Gumley@mpi.govt.nz)
  • Dunedin (Nick.Hale@mpi.govt.nz)
  • Queenstown (Jason.Baird@mpi.govt.nz/Nash.Lilac@mpi.govt.nz)
  • Wellington (George.Twort@mpi.govt.nz)

For assistance with freight:

  • Auckland (Shamal.Baldeo@mpi.govt.nz)
  • Christchurch (Chris.Gumley@mpi.govt.nz)
  • Wellington (George.Twort@mpi.govt.nz)

What do airlines and their service providers need to do?

(Service providers include baggage, freight, and mail handlers of offshore air containers) 

Accredited Persons are required for the unloading or to supervise the unloading of all types of air containers. This applies to all pathways (baggage, freight, mail).

All airline service providers are required to have the appropriate number of trained Accredited Persons available each shift and relevant to the workload (scheduled flights per shift) to ensure all air containers are clear of biosecurity contaminants. An Accredited Person who is supervising staff must be available at all times to direct other non-accredited persons as to what is required to occur.

Accredited Persons' training

All Accredited Persons are required to be trained to see biosecurity contaminants.

Training is required for Accredited Persons unloading or supervising the unloading of offshore baggage containers as well as freight containers.

Approved MPI trainers offer Accredited Person training courses. The current course material offered by this group of trainers is tailored for the specific pathways (air or sea).

Accredited Persons are required to contain biosecurity waste

Airline Service Providers are required to have the appropriate equipment (like a broom) or access to the appropriate equipment to enable staff to dispose of biosecurity waste in the appropriate disposal system.

Accredited Persons must report any biosecurity findings

MPI has constructed an IT solution for exception recording of any contaminants found in a baggage or freight air container. Reporting is integral to targeting the source of the contamination as well as keeping airlines informed as to where the problems might have originated.

This IT solution for exception reporting is now available. MPI apologises for the delay. To log on please have your Accredited Person number (Container Check website)

As a contingency measure, where the IT solution is not available, please use the Air container report form below and return it to the email address on the form.

Guidance for an Accredited Person in the air container pathway


Questions about the new requirements

What is the problem in this pathway?

Air travel has increased by 15% each year for the past 3 years and does not look to be slowing down. In addition, flight times are shorter and the likelihood of invasive species being ‘fit’ for establishment is high.

Coupled with survey findings showing a growing contamination rate in air containers (particularly those containing baggage) there is a need to clean air containers.

The Air Container Import Health Standard for all Countries has been revised to include all air containers and requires that Accredited Persons (trained to recognise and deal with biosecurity contaminants) are on hand wherever offshore air containers are unloaded.

Everyone has a role.

The supervisory role of an AP – what does this mean?

An AP in a supervisory role, needs to be available for queries from baggage unloaders, as well as managing the escalation of contaminants found by a baggage unloader. There is no (requirement) expectation for the AP to ‘re-inspect’ each Air Container they have not been directly involved with, before it leaves the unloading area. If there is an issue (that AP is not recording and/or contaminants are missed) then the local MPI inspector may direct to ‘re-inspect’ or other such actions to ensure biosecurity contaminants are removed.

Pooled water in containers in the form of condensation is found in over 80% of containers, but pooled water is noted as a biosecurity risk. What should I do?

Condensation is a common occurrence. Condensation when it first occurs would not be a contaminant in itself – it is the fact that some larvae (like mosquitoes) populate in any type of pooled water available and can be transported between destinations in stagnant pooled water. The question here is the opportunity. Condensation droplets formed on air containers and the resulting puddle in the bottom of the container would not offer opportunity and is not a risk. APs will be trained to recognise what is risky pooled water (stagnant water that has been sitting for some time with tide marks around the perimeter, looks ‘dirty’, and in a position to offer opportunity for breeding) and what is not. High-risk contamination would be a time that the AP contacts MPI.

What if an Accredited Person cannot remove a contaminant?

Should the Accredited Person not be able to remove a biosecurity contaminant then they should seek the advice of the local MPI Inspector and follow their instructions. Depending on the contaminant/pest to be removed there is a number of actions that could be undertaken.

Find out more

Last reviewed:
Has this been useful? Give us your feedback