Steps to exporting
To export cat and dog pet food, pet food exporters must be registered and follow animal product standards and other regulations, as well as meet the requirements of their destination country. We've created a step-by-step process so you can see what's involved.
Follow the steps
To export cat and dog pet food products successfully you need to know about:
- registering as an exporter with MPI
- the legislation relating to your type of business
- all the requirements of your destination country
- risk management programmes (RMPs)
- registering for access to E-cert, MPI's online certification system, to apply for the required 'official assurance' (export certificate)
- border clearance requirements
- relevant fees and charges.
You may also have to meet other requirements set by government agencies like the New Zealand Customs Service.
Register as an exporter or use the services of a registered exporter
If you're exporting commercially, you must register with MPI or use the services of a registered exporter. Exporter registration can be done online, or by completing a printed form.
If you have questions about registering as an exporter, email email@example.com.
Non-commercial exporters don't usually have to register
If the purpose of your export is non-commercial, you don't have to register as an exporter or use the services of a registered exporter unless requested by your shipper (airline or shipping company).
Comply with New Zealand legislation and food standards
You need to meet labelling requirements, and all relevant animal feed standards and regulations, including the:
- Animal Products Act 1999 on the NZ Legislation website
- Specifications for Products Intended for Animal Consumption Notice 2014 [PDF, 463 KB] [PDF, 463 KB]
- Agricultural Compounds and Veterinary Medicines Act 1997 on the NZ Legislation website
- Agricultural Compounds and Veterinary Medicines (Exemptions and Prohibited Substances) Regulations 2011 on the NZ Legislation website
Check the requirements of your destination country
As an exporter you're responsible for knowing and meeting the Overseas Market Access Requirements (OMAR) for your destination country. OMARs differ between countries and products, and set out requirements for all operators in your export chain – for example, processors, storage providers, and transporters.
If there's an OMAR for your export destination you will likely need an 'official assurance', also known as an export certificate, before you can send your product. Official assurance is the New Zealand Government's assurance to the destination country that your product meets the standards set out in the OMAR.
Read the OMAR thoroughly to make sure you can comply with all of the requirements. You'll need to register with MPI to read pet food OMARs, which are password-protected.
Other information you should check includes:
Guidance offered by FYIs can help you with exporting concerns or issues. (You may need your OMAR password to read some FYIs.)
OMAR notifications will give you the latest updates for your destination country.
Exporting to a country with no OMAR
If there's no OMAR for your export destination, work directly with your importing agent to find out about certification and any other requirements. If an import permit is required, the permit will outline the requirements.
Note that if there's no OMAR, it could mean your product is prohibited from being sent to that country.
If you're a primary or secondary processor who exports to countries that don't require official assurances, you must operate under an RMP.
Some destinations that don't need official assurances may instead require a free sales certificate (FSC), or a free sales advice statement (FSAS).
Find out if your premises need to be approved
Some countries require premises to be approved, or 'listed', before you can export your products. 'Listing' is a procedure agreed between governments for ensuring that a country's market access requirements are met and products are produced in premises approved to export to that country. Your OMAR will tell you if you need to be listed, and the process to follow. To be listed, you will need a fully operational risk management programme and to work with your verifier to meet the listing requirements.
Operating under a risk management programme (RMP)
To get an official assurance for pet food, it must be produced and processed under a registered and verified risk management programme (RMP). Information in the RMP will form part of your application for official assurance.
RMPs help you manage hazards, ensure your pet food is fit for purpose, and meet legal requirements. If at any point the pet food is processed outside of an approved RMP, you can't get an official assurance and your pet food will lose its eligibility for export.
You can prepare a successful RMP by using the code of practice that has been developed by MPI in consultation with the pet food industry.
- Read more about the pet food industry code of practice
- Visit the New Zealand Pet Food Manufacturers website
After developing your programme, you must register it and get it verified each year.
Ensure storage and transport requirements are met
Stand-alone operators who store pet food before it is exported must meet specific requirements, depending on the market. Pet food also has specific storage-temperature requirements, which are detailed in the code of practice.
- Read more about requirements for stores (cold and dry)
- Read about temperature requirements in the code of practice
- Read more about requirements for transport
Use a recognised verifier
You need to work with MPI Verification Services, which verifies operators, to ensure that your pet food complies with all requirements and that you're following your RMP.
Apply for access to E-cert
Export applications are handled online through E-cert, the web application MPI uses to issue official assurances (export certificates) and approve consignments for export.
E-cert tracks products from the time they're produced until they're exported. It is password-protected, and new exporters need to apply for access.
Your registration should be finalised within a week, providing all supplied information is correct and payments have been made. If you have questions about E-cert, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Request an export certificate through E-cert
Once you are a registered user of E-cert, you can access the password-protected website and apply for an official assurance (export certificate) for your consignment.
The information you enter about your pet food products and the declarations you make will confirm that your product complies with requirements.
If you're exporting another manufacturer's products, you may need their help to complete the E-cert applications.
Are you using wood packaging?
If you use wood packaging products other than paper for your pet food product, check that the wood packaging meets the phytosanitary requirements of the destination country. Some countries may require you to treat the wood packaging to make sure it's free of pests and diseases.
When MPI is satisfied that your pet food products comply with all of the requirements and standards, we issue the official assurance (export certificate) through E-cert.
The official assurance can be provided for your consignment in various ways. Check the OMAR for your destination country and the official assurances programme.
When to alert MPI
As an exporter you're responsible for telling MPI within 24 hours if your pet food for export:
- becomes unfit for its intended purpose
- is refused entry by a foreign government
- fails to meet the relevant Overseas Market Access Requirements (OMARs)
- doesn't have the required export documents – for example, if they have been removed or lost.
Use the export non-conformance report to alert MPI about any problems. Alternatively, you can use your own form – so long as your notification contains all of the necessary information.
Email your completed form to email@example.com
Who to contact
If you have questions about exporting pet food products, email firstname.lastname@example.org