Food imports

MPI's minimum regulatory requirements for food safety ensure all food imported into New Zealand for sale is safe, fit for human consumption, and uncontaminated. Food importers must meet the requirements MPI sets.

Requirements and standards for food importers

If you want to import food for sale in New Zealand, you must meet MPI's food importing and safety requirements. These requirements include registering with MPI as a food importer (or using a registered importer), safely sourcing and handling food before export, and meeting specific requirements for foods identified as presenting a higher risk to consumers.

Registered food importer

Food must be imported through a registered importer. Registered importers must:

  • pay a fee to register
  • renew the registration each year
  • keep or have access to records to show where food has come from and that it's safe
  • get food safety clearance for foods of high regulatory interest.

You can become a registered importer or use an agent who is a registered importer.

Becoming a registered importer

Registration for food importers is required from 1 March 2016 and all food importers must be registered by 30 June 2017.

Registered importers will be recorded in a public database. Prior to 1 March 2016, importers were listed with MPI but could not be searched by the public.

You can apply to be a registered food importer using one of these forms. Choose the form and follow the instructions that match your situation.

Note that these applications are made through the New Zealand Customs Service (NZ Customs), using their process for assigning client codes and registering to use the Trade Single Window.

  • New food importers that weren't previously listed with MPI and who don't have a customs client code should apply using the customs form 224 – ticking the 'Yes' box for Food Importer.
  • Food importers that weren't previously listed with MPI and who don't have a customs client code should apply using the customs form 224 – ticking the 'Yes' box for Food Importer.
  • Food importers that weren't previously listed with MPI but who have a customs client code should update their information using customs form 225 -– ticking the 'Yes' box for Food Importer.
  • Food importers who are listed with MPI and have a client code, but who haven't registered for Trade Single Window need to re-apply using customs form 225.

Note, that Customs will notify MPI when they receive your application. You will then be contacted by MPI to request payment of the fee ($133.69 including GST for new applications).

Visit the NZ Customs website to:

If you're a food importer that's listed with MPI and registered with Trade Single Window, you do not need to take any action to register until after 1 July 2016.

MPI will email you approximately a month prior to the date that you need to register to remind you. To make sure MPI can contact you ensure that your client registration details, including your most recent email address, are up to date with Customs so you can get this information.

Find out more

Read these guides to learn more about importing food into New Zealand.

Keep good records

Food importers need to keep records that show how the food they import for sale in New Zealand complies with New Zealand legislation. These records must show how food products have been produced, transported, and stored. You may also need to keep purchase records and relevant supplier information.

Foods with extra requirements

Some foods present a greater risk to consumers and public health. They're known as foods of high regulatory interest or foods of increased regulatory interest. These foods normally require a food safety clearance and are monitored for specific hazards.

Find out more

Legal obligations

Food importers are legally obliged to ensure that food is safe and suitable.

Food importers have legal obligations they must meet under the:

  • Biosecurity Act 1993
  • Animal Products Act 1999
  • Agricultural Compounds and Veterinary Medicines Act 1997
  • Food Act 2014 and related legislation
  • Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code.

Labelling and composition requirements

The imported food must comply with the labelling and compositional food standards that apply in New Zealand. These labelling requirements are set out in the Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code.

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