Steps to importing
To import supplemented food you must either be registered as a food importer with MPI, or use a registered food importer. There are also other standards and requirements. We've created a step-by-step process to explain what's involved.
Follow the steps
What this import process covers
This import process covers foods for human consumption that have substances added to provide a benefit beyond basic nutrition. Added substances can include vitamins, minerals, herbal extracts, and bioactive substances (such as amino acids and probiotics). Examples of supplemented foods include fortified cereals, or drinks with added vitamins or minerals.
Supplemented foods don't include:
- dietary supplements
- controlled drugs
- formulated meal replacements or foods
- caffeinated drinks with substances added to improve performance.
Supplemented foods must not be made specifically for children under 4 years of age.
Importing related products
Processes for importing related products that are not supplemented foods are elsewhere on this website:
Identify what you're importing
Before you start, identify your product type. You need to know:
- all the ingredients in your product and where it is from
- whether your product is considered a dietary supplement or a supplemented food.
Dietary supplements include any amino acids, edible substances, herbs, minerals and vitamins sold in controlled dosages (for example in capsules, lozenges, tablets, powders or liquids) to supplement normal intake from food.
Medsafe is the New Zealand regulator for medicines and dietary supplements. MPI is the regulator for supplemented foods. If you are unsure, check the guides to identify what your product is and which regulations it falls under.
To import supplemented food successfully, you need to know about:
- ensuring your product is covered by an import health standard (IHS)
- complying with the requirements of the IHS
- getting an import permit, if needed
- arranging manufacturers' declarations or treatment certificates, if needed
- booking a transitional facility, if needed.
New Zealand Customs Service requirements
- product prohibitions and restrictions
- tariffs and permits
- using a customs broker.
Food Act requirements
- registering as a food importer
- general requirements of registered food importers – sourcing and keeping food safe and suitable, records, and recalls
- the Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code, including labelling, composition and restricted foods
- the New Zealand Food (Supplemented Food) Standard, including banned substances and restrictions on what can be added to food
- foods of "high regulatory interest" and "increased regulatory interest" (these require food safety clearance)
- how to get food safety clearance
- requirements for supplemented food
- fees and charges that apply for services provided by MPI and other agencies.
Refer to the standard
You should be familiar with the New Zealand Food (Supplemented Food) Standard 2016, including restrictions on the amounts of certain ingredients. You can't add black cohosh, kava or intoxicating substances to supplemented foods.
Download the standard [PDF, 149 KB]
Guides to help you
- Before importing into New Zealand (overview) [PDF, 342 KB]
- Meeting requirements as a registered food importer (details) [PDF, 369 KB]
- How to import food into New Zealand (overview) [PDF, 225 KB]
- Importing food into New Zealand (details) [PDF, 201 KB]
Additional requirements for some foods
Organic food, irradiated food and genetically modified foods have additional requirements. Learn more about:
- organic food
- irradiated food and ingredients [PDF, 125 KB]
- genetically modified food and ingredients [PDF, 137 KB]
Are you using wood packaging?
If your consignment is shipped to New Zealand on wooden pallets, or wood has been used to package any part of your consignment, you'll also need to comply with the requirements for importing wood packaging.
Exported goods returning to New Zealand
All exporters are legally obliged to notify MPI if their export goods are being returned to New Zealand – for example, if a consignment has been rejected by an importing country.
Before the product is returned to New Zealand the exporter or importer should email the details to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Check other agencies' import restrictions
Check with the New Zealand Customs Service (NZ Customs) whether:
- you can import the product without restriction
- the product will be subject to duties or tariffs
- an NZ Customs permit is needed.
Visit the NZ Customs website to:
Consider using a customs broker
A customs broker will help you get import entry clearance. Some services provided by NZ Customs can only be accessed by registered customs brokers.
Many freight and transport companies employ their own brokers, but if you need help finding one, contact the Customs Brokers and Freight Forwarders Federation.
Get a CITES permit, if needed
Some plant and animal products are protected under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) and can’t be transported between countries, or can only be imported with a permit.
Meet biosecurity requirements
You need to understand and comply with the biosecurity requirements for your product.
Find the import health standard (IHS) for your product
Biosecurity requirements are detailed in documents called import health standards. The import health standard (IHS) will tell you what you need to do to successfully import your product. This may include getting manufacturers' declarations or treatment certificates. Some products may only be able to be imported from countries listed in the IHS.
Options when there is no IHS for your product
If there's no IHS for your product, you can't import it. However, you can ask MPI to consider developing a new IHS for your product.
To make a request, use a separate form for each commodity and email or post the form(s) and any additional information to MPI.
MPI prioritises each request for a new IHS, and it may take several years to finalise your request.
Meeting the IHS requirements
Products that meet all of the requirements specified in the IHS will be given biosecurity clearance. If your product doesn't meet IHS requirements, you may have to:
- arrange and pay for quarantine of your goods while MPI assesses your application
- reship your goods at your cost
- pay for your consignment to be destroyed.
Requesting to import your product under equivalent measures (equivalence)
If your product doesn't meet all of the IHS requirements (for example, if it has been treated using a different method from what is listed in the IHS), you can ask MPI about assessing your product under equivalent measures. This is known as 'equivalence'.
You'll need to supply information to show how the risks managed by the IHS are managed to an equivalent level (for example, by providing information about processing details).
You'll also need to provide MPI with supporting information, as listed in the IHS. MPI will issue a biosecurity permit if your request is approved.
To ask about equivalence, email email@example.com.
Meet phytosanitary and/or zoosanitary requirements
The IHS may require your product to have a phytosanitary or zoosanitary certificate. These are issued in the country of export. The IHS may require additional declarations specific to your product.
To meet the requirements, you may need to complete some or all of these tasks before shipping:
- have your product inspected for detectable pests and treated (if needed)
- use approved packaging and shipping materials that are free of soil or other contaminants
- meet any extra requirements listed in the IHS.
You’re also recommended to get manufacturer’s information on the commercial processes used to produce your supplemented food (for example, heat treatment).
If you're using wood packaging, make sure it meets phytosanitary requirements.
Apply for an import permit, if required
The IHS will tell you whether an import permit is needed for your product.
Arrange a transitional facility, if required
MPI approves transitional facilities to hold and manage imported goods that might have a biosecurity risk. These goods may have to be inspected or treated at the transitional facility before they can be cleared by MPI.
All sea containers arriving in New Zealand need to be taken to a transitional facility and unpacked there.
You or your customs broker need to arrange for your container to be transferred to a transitional facility, before your goods arrive in New Zealand.
Check the requirements for packaging
Packaging must be secure, so that pests can't get inside, and it must be clean and free from soil or other contaminants. If you're using wood products (other than paper) to pack your consignment, there are extra conditions to meet, to make sure there are no hidden pests or diseases.
Correct labelling of your consignment will help ensure that your consignment can be quickly identified and processed by border clearance staff when it arrives in New Zealand.
Submit all required documentation
You or your customs broker need to make sure that all of the necessary documentation is submitted to NZ Customs or MPI within 48 hours of the consignment arriving in New Zealand.
If required by the IHS, documentation may include:
- a copy of any phytosanitary or zoosanitary certificate
- a manufacturer's certificate
- treatment certificates
- purchase invoice
- a bill of lading
- a sea freight container declaration or airway bill.
Comply with on-arrival inspections, if required
Your documentation will be checked, and an MPI inspector may examine the consignment when it arrives in New Zealand to make sure it complies with the IHS. The inspector may check that:
- the consignment is as described
- correct labelling is used, if required
- the consignment and packaging are free of contaminants (detritus, soil, disease, and pests).
The MPI quarantine inspector may issue a Biosecurity Authority Clearance Certificate (BACC) requiring:
- more information to be provided
- documentation to be corrected
- the consignment to be treated
- the consignment to be moved to a transitional facility, to be held for inspection.
If your consignment doesn't comply on arrival
If your product doesn't comply with IHS requirements when it arrives, or it's found to be seriously contaminated (such as with live organisms), you may need to:
- treat your product
- identify the organism (and treat it if it's a restricted pest)
- ship the product to another country
- destroy the product.
All treatments have to be done at a transitional facility by an approved treatment provider. You're liable for any costs associated with non-compliance or contamination.
Search for an approved treatment provider [PDF, 331 KB]
Meet Food Act requirements
Registered food importers
All food coming into New Zealand must be imported by a registered food importer. If you want to import food, you can:
- use a registered food importer, such as an agent
- register as a food importer (available to New Zealand residents only).
Becoming a registered food importer
You can request to be a food importer when completing your New Zealand Customs Service (Customs) client registration application. Tick 'Yes' when asked if you wish to be a food importer.
When you have completed your form you can:
- email it to firstname.lastname@example.org
- fax it to (09) 927 8015.
If you need help, phone NZ Customs on 0800 42 87 86.
Transition from listed food importer to registered food importer
- Check your Letter of Listing to find out what day and month you became a listed food importer. It doesn't matter what year.
- Find the corresponding day and month between 1 July 2016 and 30 June 2017.
Comply with regulations and standards
All supplemented food businesses must comply with the Food Act 2014, Food Regulations 2015, the Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code and the New Zealand Food (Supplemented Food) Standard 2016. This standard is an interim regulatory arrangement until appropriate provisions are made under the Code.
- Food Act 2014 – NZ Legislation website
- Food Regulations 2015 – NZ Legislation website
- User guides to the Food Standards Code – Food Standards Australia New Zealand website
- New Zealand Food (Supplemented Food) Standard 2016 [PDF, 149 KB]
You must also comply with regulations about sourcing foods that are safe and suitable, storing and transporting those foods, and keeping records.
Find out more
- Before importing into New Zealand (overview) [PDF, 342 KB]
- Meeting requirements as a registered food importer (details) [PDF, 369 KB]
You must also comply with food labelling requirements. Labels on supplemented foods must include:
- the words “supplemented food”
- a description of the food, its lot identification and supplier details
- safe daily consumption information
- a warning or advisory statement for restricted ingredients, if needed.
The supplemented food standard guidance document (draft) has detailed labelling requirements for supplemented foods.
- Download the supplemented food standard guidance document [PDF, 785 KB]
- Guide to complying with labelling requirements [PDF, 673 KB]
Check if your product requires food safety clearance
MPI must check the safety of foods we class "of regulatory interest" before they can be imported and sold. These are types of foods that have made people sick in the past, or may make people sick. Customs or your customs broker will tell you if a food safety clearance is required. Foods coming from countries other than Australia will need to be checked. If they're shown to be safe, you'll be given a food safety clearance and the food can be imported.
If your supplemented food doesn't need food safety clearance, go to Step 3.
Getting food safety clearance
If you're importing food that requires food safety clearance, you may be asked to demonstrate its safety one of 3 ways:
- NZ Importer Assurance: A registered food importer that's verified by MPI can be issued with a NZ Importer Assurance (previously known as a Multiple Release Permit).
- Official certificate: For some countries, MPI will accept official certificates (from the appropriate government agency) as assurance the food is safe.
- Sampling and testing: In some cases, food will have to be sampled and tested. MPI will tell you if this is required.
How to apply
You can request food safety clearance using the Trade Single Window or by filling out a food safety clearance application form.
Trade single window
Follow the instructions on the Trade Single Window (TSW) website. You'll need to log in using the RealMe login service, and then register as a TSW user.
Food Safety Clearance Application
If you don't use TSW, download and complete an application form. Follow the instructions for guidance.
When complete, email the form to email@example.com.
Your application should include:
- an invoice for the consignment
- the bill of lading or airway bill.
If the food being imported requires an official certificate or a manufacturer's declaration, you should also include that with your application.
When inspection, sampling or testing is required
MPI will tell you if the food you're importing needs to be inspected, sampled or tested. If that happens, MPI will sample the product and send samples to your choice of MPI-approved laboratory. You'll need to pay the sampling, transport and testing costs – and share the test results with MPI.
Find out more
MPI's Central Clearing House can also answer questions:
- Email firstname.lastname@example.org
- Phone 09 909 6210 or 09 909 6211
- Fax 09 909 6208.
If a biosecurity inspector is satisfied that your products comply with the import health standard (IHS), clearance will be issued soon after your goods arrive.
If you were issued with a Biosecurity Authority Clearance Certificate (BACC) by an MPI quarantine inspector, you may need to present this documentation to other agencies.
If your products don't comply with an IHS, they may not be cleared. However, you may be given the chance to provide further documentation for your products.
Food safety clearance
A food safety officer will assess your application against the requirements of the Food Act. You’ll be notified of the outcome through the Trade Single Window system or directly by MPI.
Clearance may be given:
- without direction – meaning you’re free to move and sell the product within New Zealand
- with direction – meaning your food requires inspection or sampling, or is not safe and suitable for people to eat. You may be directed to reprocess, re-export, or destroy the food.
Who to contact
If you have questions about requirements for importing supplemented foods, email email@example.com.