Exporting indigenous timber & timber products
The Forests Act 1993 places restrictions on the types of timber and timber products that may be exported, and under what circumstances. Find out more about exporting indigenous timber.
Exports subject to strict rules
Export of indigenous timber and timber products is largely prohibited.
Export is permitted in limited circumstances – when the timber is:
- unfinished, belongs to an approved category, and meets certain requirements
- classified as a 'finished and manufactured' timber product
- a personal effect.
Exporting indigenous timber in contravention of the Forests Act is a serious offence. Penalties include fines of up to $200,000 on conviction.
Unfinished indigenous timber commodities may be exported only after obtaining approval from MPI.
There are 4 categories unfinished timber can be exported under:
- any grade of sawn beech or rimu:
- from a forest subject to a sustainable forest management (SFM) plan or permit
- with a cross-sectional area per piece of no more than 30,000 square millimetres
- stumps or roots:
- of any species
- either whole or sawn
- salvaged from non-indigenous forest land or sourced from a forest subject to a sustainable forest management (SFM) plan or permit
- tree fern trunks or fibre
- taken from an SFM plan or permit forest, or
- taken from indigenous forest land without an SFM plan or permit with the prior written approval of MPI, or
- taken from non-indigenous forest land
- indigenous logs or timber:
- from a planted indigenous forest, or
- from a forest covered by a Permanent Forests Sink Covenant.
For all exports, MPI must receive a notice of intention to export (ITE) a minimum of 10 days before export begins. Failure to provide an ITE is a breach of the Forests Act.
When we get an ITE, we'll check the timber source. A forestry officer will also do a visual inspection to ensure the timber being exported matches the description given in the ITE.
- Notice of intention to export indigenous timber [PDF, 153 KB]
'Finished and manufactured indigenous timber products' may be exported without MPI approval.
A finished and manufactured product is any indigenous timber product:
- that has been manufactured into its final form
- is ready to be installed or used for its intended purpose
- is a complete item or part of an item – whether assembled or in kit set form, including:
- household fixtures, such as rails and toilet seats
- ornaments and carvings
- does not require further machining or other modification.
Some items don't meet these requirements
Some semi-finished or component pieces are not covered for export under these criteria, including:
- dressed or rough-sawn timber
- furniture blanks, joinery blanks or building blanks.
Exporters regularly contact MPI to confirm their exports comply with the Forests Act.
If contacted, forestry officers will do a visual inspection to determine if the export meets the definition of a finished product.
Personal effects made from indigenous timber may be exported without MPI's approval.
Personal effects are small items intended only for personal use and usually worn or carried on the body – such as a wooden hand-mirror, key-ring or hairbrush.
Personal effects may also include indigenous timber items packed with the owner's belongings provided MPI is satisfied the owner is relocating overseas permanently.
If you are unsure whether your item fits this category, contact MPI for advice.
Clearance numbers needed from 1 August
From 1 August 2017, exporters of indigenous timber will need to have a single use clearance (or permit) number to clear their export entries through the Customs' system. The non-transferable permit number will be provided by MPI on the completed approved Intention to export (ITE) form. There is no change to the requirements which exporters must meet to get the required approval to export. This process change will facilitate the clearance of appropriately approved, lawful exports.
- Intention to export form [PDF, 153 KB]
Exporting approved timber or timber products
If your export is covered under one of these categories, you may begin the export process.
Ensure you complete any additional documentation required as specified in the categories above.
Who to contact
If you have questions about the information on this page, email firstname.lastname@example.org