Steps to importing
To import dried or preserved plant products, you'll need to comply with an import health standard for your product and meet various treatment, packing, and biosecurity requirements. We've created a step-by-step process so you can see what's involved.
Follow the steps
Types of plant product
This import process includes dried and preserved plant products not intended for human consumption. Examples are:
- cut flowers, fungi, algae, lichen, and pot pourri that are dried, freeze-dried, bleached, or dyed
- liquid extracts and powdered and paste materials
- brushwood fencing, screens, garden frames, and other plant-based landscape materials
- dried herbarium specimens
- plant material preserved in alcohol
- cotton wool
Plant products may be included in items like heat packs or cosmetics.
To import dried or preserved plant products successfully you need to:
- know their components or ingredients
- comply with the phytosanitary import requirements listed in the import health standard (IHS)
- know about labelling and packaging requirements
- submit the required documentation
- organise your product to be treated, if needed, no more than 21 days before export
- get the tracking and freight details from the exporter
- know about product prohibitions and restrictions
- know about tariffs and permits, if required.
Fees and charges apply for services provided by MPI and other agencies.
Importing related products
Processes for importing products related to dried and preserved plant products are set out elsewhere on this website. Follow these steps if you're importing:
- dried and processed food from plants for human consumption
- seeds for sowing
- forest products including timber, bamboo, cane, rattan, willow wood products, or wood packaging
- growing media including peat and coco.
Identify what you're importing
Before you know whether you can import your dried or preserved plant product, you need to identify its ingredients or composition. If it also contains animal products or therapeutic ingredients, you'll need to follow different processes to get approval to import.
Comply with import health standard requirements
The import health standard (IHS) for dried or preserved plant products will tell you what you need to do to import your product into New Zealand. Read it thoroughly to make sure you can comply with all of the requirements.
Download the IHS for dried and preserved plant material [PDF, 401 KB]
The IHS may require you to arrange pre-departure inspection and treatments, and obtain a treatment certificate and/or a manufacturer's certification.
Arrange pre-departure inspection and treatment, if needed
If you need to arrange inspections or treatment, contact your export broker or the National Plant Protection Organisation (NPPO) in the country of export, to find out about approved inspection and treatment providers.
Obtain a treatment certificate
Request the treatment certificate from your export broker or treatment supplier. The invoice or batch information should match the treatment certificate details.
Obtain a manufacturer's certificate
Request the certificate from an authorised exporter or manufacturing company representative, who can declare what type of manufacturing process was used and sign the certificate.
Options for when your product is not included in the IHS
If your product is not listed in the IHS, usually you can't import it. However, you can ask MPI about the possibility of adding it to the IHS. It's also possible to ask MPI to consider developing a new IHS for your product.
MPI prioritises each request for a new IHS, and it may take several years to finalise your request.
Check other agencies' import restrictions
Check with the New Zealand Customs Service 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:
Some plant products are protected under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) and cannot be transported between countries, or may only be imported with a permit.
Consider using a customs broker
A customs broker will help you get import entry clearance. Some services provided by the New Zealand Customs Service 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.
If importing tapa, apply for a phytosanitary certificate
If the IHS requires the goods to be accompanied by a phytosanitary certificate, you or your export broker should contact the relevant National Plant Protection Organisation (NPPO, an equivalent agency to MPI) in the country of export. You can find the contact details on the International Plant Protection Convention (IPPC) website.
A phytosanitary certificate is issued once the contact-point NPPO is satisfied that the requirements of the IHS have been met.
The original phytosanitary certificate must be included with your consignment.
Check wood packaging requirements
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, to make sure there are no hidden pests or diseases.
Submit all required documentation
You or your customs broker need to make sure that all of the required documents are submitted to NZ Customs or MPI within 48 hours of your consignment arriving in New Zealand.
If required by the IHS, the documentation may include:
- a copy of the phytosanitary certificate
- a manufacturer's certificate
- treatment certificates
- the purchase invoice
- the bill of lading or air waybill
- a sea freight container declaration.
Comply with on-arrival inspections
An MPI inspector may check your documentation and the consignment when it arrives in New Zealand to see that it complies with the IHS. The inspector checks that:
- the consignment is as described
- correct labelling is used, if required
- the packaging is free of contaminants (detritus, soil, disease, and pests).
The MPI quarantine inspector may issue a Biosecurity Authority Clearance Certificate (BACC) that requires:
- the documentation to be corrected
- the consignment to have further treatment.
If your consignment doesn't comply
If your plant product doesn't comply with the IHS requirements, or is seriously contaminated (such as with live organisms) when it arrives in New Zealand, you'll need to do one of the following:
- treat your product (for example, by fumigation)
- identify the organism (and treat it if it's a restricted pest)
- ship the product to another destination country
- destroy the product.
All treatments have to be done by an approved treatment provider at a transitional facility. You are liable for any costs associated with non-compliance or contamination.
Search for an approved treatment provider [PDF, 151 KB]
Your consignment will be given biosecurity clearance when all of the required documentation is complete and MPI is satisfied that the entry conditions of the import health standard (IHS) have been met.
Uncleared products will have to be:
- further treated until they comply with the IHS
- shipped out of New Zealand
Who to contact
If you have questions about offshore treatment or phytosanitary certificates, contact the exporting country's National Plant Protection Organisation (NPPO) or your customs agent.
For other questions about importing plant products, email firstname.lastname@example.org.