Food imports

All food imported for sale in New Zealand must be safe, fit for human consumption, uncontaminated, and imported through a registered importer.

Requirements and standards for food importers

If you want to import food for sale in New Zealand, you must register with MPI or use an agent who is registered with MPI. Registered food importers must meet food safety requirements set under the Food Act 2014. These include:

  • confirming the safety and suitability of food they import
  • safely handling and transporting food
  • meeting specific requirements for foods identified as presenting a higher risk to consumers, also known as foods of high or increased regulatory interest.

View a list of registered food importers

Note: To register as a food importer you must be a New Zealand resident as defined in sections YD1 or YD2 of the Income Tax Act 2007.

Becoming a registered food importer

When you become a registered food importer, you must:

  • pay a fee to register
  • renew the registration each year
  • meet obligations under the Food Act 2014 that are specific to registered food importers.

Deadline for registration

All food importers must be registered by 30 June 2017.

Registered importers are recorded in a public database.

Apply to be a registered food importer

You can apply to be a registered food importer using one of two forms on the New Zealand Customs Service (NZ Customs) website. Choose the form and follow the instructions that match your situation. Remember, to register as a food importer you must be a New Zealand resident as defined in the Income Tax Act 2007.

Applications are made through NZ Customs, using their process for assigning client codes and registering to use the Trade Single Window.

  • New food importers who don't have a Customs client code should apply using the Customs form 224 – ticking the 'Yes' box for Food Importer.
  • Importers that have a Customs client code and now wish to also import food should update their information using Customs form 225 – ticking the 'Yes' box for Food Importer.
  • Food importers who have a client code, but who haven't registered for Trade Single Window need to re-apply using Customs form 225.

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 a new application.
Visit the NZ Customs website to:

Download Customs form 224

Download Customs form 225

Find out more

Read these guides to learn more about importing.

Food safety requirements of registered food importers

To meet your requirements under the Food Act, you must meet food safety requirements.

Source safe and suitable food

Not all food is safe. You should check your supplier complies with food safety rules in their country, and check the foods imported will comply with the:

Keep food safe

You must make sure food is kept at the right temperature, protected from pests, and kept separate from other products that could contaminate it.

Keep good records

Registered food importers need to keep records that confirm that the food is safe and suitable. The records need to show how the:

  • food complies with New Zealand legislation
  • food importer can be confident that the food products have been produced, transported, and stored in a way that ensures it is safe and suitable.

You must have procedures and record-keeping in place so you can trace where your product has come from (suppliers), where it goes to (retailers), and to enable recall of products if necessary.
There is more information about how to meet these food safety requirements in these guides:  

Meet labelling and composition requirements

Food must comply with the Australia and New Zealand Food Standards Code. This sets rules about what's allowed and not allowed in your food, and how it must be labelled.

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.
Foods that are of high regulatory interest or increased regulatory interest and the clearance requirements for these are listed in the Food Notice: Importing food.

Legal obligations

Food importers also have legal obligations they must meet under the:

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

Find more information for the products you import

Involved in other food activities?

If your business involves more than just importing food (like storing, transporting or selling food in a shop) you may need to register under a national programme or food control plan as well.

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