Shipping to New Zealand

 Importing in New Zealand: what are the steps?

With cargo or not, you have to conform to the import health standards for any packing and cargo and the type of containers if you want to import them. To see what is required, let’s look at the step-by-step process we created.

1) Main information you have to know.  

There are several import requirements you have to meet if you want to import containers, filled but also empty one going back to New Zealand.

What you have to know:

  • the requirements recorded in the HIS, import health standard for the sort of container (sea or air)
  • the requirements recorded in the Import Health Standards for the sort of cargo inside the container
  • at least 12 hours before your container arrives, you have to provide to MPI information about it
  • the guidance document to keep track of importing sea containers
  • documentation like quarantine declaration and BACC, Biosecurity Authority Clearance Certificate
  • the need when using wood or other packaging
  • relevant charges and fees
  • transitional facility has to be arranged for your type of container, and its cargo

MPI container audit

Because of the 1% sea container intervention monitoring program, MPI can apply for and audit inspection.

If MPI need to inspect your container because of the audit program, you will be notified by Customs New Zealand.

Requirements for wood packaging 

For packaging made by wood (crates and wooden pallets for instance) you have to be sure the packaging meets the requirements.

2) What do you have to do?

Think about taking a customs broker

Customs broker help you to obtain entry clearance when you import. For some services purveyed by NZ Customs Service, only customs brokers can have access by registered.  You can contact Customs Brokers and Freight Forwarders Federation if you require help. However, many transport and freight companies have their own broker.

Type of container: satisfy IHS requirements 

The IHS says to you what to do to have your container imported. By sea container, you need to red thoroughly the IHS and its guide, you have to be sure that you can meet all requirements.

Aircraft operators have to conform to the IHS for baggage and freight containers. If you decide to use air containers, be conscious of the requirements for freight and baggage needed by aircraft operator.

Satisfy import procedures for your type of cargo

Depending on your type of products and cargo in your container, you will have to meet certain requirements. In particular, for each product you have to comply with the requirements detailed in the IHS.

Visit the the Civil Aviation Authority of New Zealand or the Maritime department of New Zealand for further information.


Sea containers: how to prepare the needed documents?  

The documents you need before sending your sea container to NZ:

  • apply for a BACC, Biosecurity Authority Clearance Certificate
  • obtain verification that the inspection of your container has been done and is free from contamination. (Take a quarantine declaration form)

Remember that there are 2 types of BACCs depending on of there is cargo in the container or if it is empty.

Organize inspection and obtain a quarantine declaration 

You need to have a quarantine declaration in your container assuring that before exportation your container has been exported and there is no contamination. A manager of exporting or packing facility should complete and sign the declaration.

If you import regularly containers into NZ, you can ask for a quarantine declaration valid one year.

BACC application

Your customs broker or you need to ask for a Biosecurity Authority Clearance Certificate (BACC). There are two possibilities, you can download and return the forms or apply for an electronic BACC (called eBACCa). For eBACCa you have to register with B2BE – it is the company that manage eBACCA software and service. As an importer or a broker you can talk to B2BE about obtaining the eBACCA software access.

You can fill BACC form instead of using eBACCA. Whether the container is empty or note, the form is different, choose the good one, complete it and fax it to MPI in Auckland on +64 9 909 8584.

Trade Single Window registration (optional)

TSW, Trade Single Window is a joint initiative of the MPI and NZ Customs Service.  Rather than using you can bring in TSW to securely submit online cargo or craft information to MPI and other governments departments.

To avoid potential delays, your customs broker or you should submit, at least 12 hours before the container arrives in NZ, the BACC application to MPI or New Zealand Customs Services.

The documentation to be included are:

  • country of origin
  • container type and number
  • port of loading
  • packaging and cargo description
  • New Zealand port of discharge
  • Tariff code
  • NZ transitional facility destination
  • a copy of the quarantine declaration
  • exporter details
  • importer details

If the container transport packaging and cargo

Remember to include all documents determined by IHS for each cargo and packaging, as well as packing list and invoices. Take inventory of all items if it’s personal effects that you are shipping. Thanks to that, MPI will have more facilities to point any risk items of your consignment.

Organize transport to a transitional facility 

Any container arriving in NZ has to be place into a transitional facility to be packed or unpacked. Depending on your cargos inside the container, the type of facility will be different. Transition facilities can be at the airport or the wharf, or other appropriate location. Before the container arrives, you (or your customs broker) have to organize the transport from the airport or port to the transitional facility.

Satisfy on-arrival inspections

When your container arrives in NZ, MPI will check it to make sure it meets the IHS. Inspections, realized at the arrival airport or port or transitional facility, need checks of:

Inspections are done either at the place of arrival or a transitional facility, and include checks for:

  • signs of pests and diseases
  • correct documentation
  • evidence of contaminants (soil, pests, detritus and disease).

Contamination: how to react?

In case of serious contamination, like alive organism, found in a container or your cargo, here are the option you have:

  • identification of the organism and for regulated pest treat it
  • destroy your cargo or container (use incineration or deep burial for instance)
  • treat the container (by fumigation for instance)
  • reship the container or cargo

Treatment provider have to approve all treatments that have to be realized at a transitional facility. In case of contamination or non-compliance, you are responsible for any costs.

3) How to be sure your container passes through custom clearance?

If you meet all requirements, a biosecurity clearance will be issued.


For any questions about importing cargo and containers, send an email at

Or visit the Ministry for Primary Industries of New Zeland.

freight to new zealand

What is the process to import goods?

Imported goods in New Zealand are strictly controlled, in order to protect our fauna, flora, environment and human health. MPI need to be sure that before biosecurity clearance is given, imported animals, food, plant products or goods don’t shelter unwanted organisms.

Anticipate pests and diseases entrance and spread

Our biosecurity system is under pressure with the increasing volume of travel and trade. Human health can be impacted by new diseases and pests but also tourism, horticultural production, agriculture and forestry can be damaged. They can impact on NZ’s trade with the rest of the world, on international markets. To prevent biosecurity risks in New Zealand, MPI has extended controls for a vast range of commodities and products, including:

  • Plant products and plants, timber included
  • Animals and animal products, pets included
  • Organisms and biological products
  • Food
  • Cargo, aircraft containers and vessels

Moreover, seacraft and aircraft have a limited number of airport and port to arrive in New Zealand. MPI want so make sure that proper inspections will be made of the passengers, cargo and craft.

What do our laboratories?  

The role of our laboratories is important in order to support trade. They:

  • Protect from suspected exotic organism the environment and NZ’ primary industries
  • Comfort our business partners that certain diseases and pests are inexistent in New Zealand.

What are the steps to import?  

Prior to import products, be sure that the importation you want to do is allowed. Verify all biosecurity import restrictions and rules and check with NZ Customs Service.

When you are sure that it is allowed; MPI has to be satisfy that your product meets the import rules and regulations and it does not have biosecurity risk.

For food product, you have to check if it meets labelling requirements and food safety.

Follow import health standards

Products or items with potential unwanted organisms or pests, are subject to an import health standard. Country-commodity basis most of the time define these standards. There is detailed information about what is required to import your product with success and assure there won’t be biosecurity risk.

Additional requirements for food importers  

Any food can be imported into NZ as long as it is suitable, safe and meets consumption standards. Food importer have to register with MPI but also meet current food importing standards. MPI often oversee imported food in order to make sure it is suitable and safe.

Transitional and containment facilities

When sea containers arrive in NZ, they have to be placed on transitional facility to be unpacked there. Quarantine or long stay in containment or transitional facility can be necessary for imports with higher risks, like animals, plants and related products.

Risky goods are hold, treated, inspected, identified, dispose or destroyed by transitional facilities. Their standard details minimum requirements needed to have transitional facilities functions approved and monitored.

Operators must approve treatments

It is the responsibility of MPI to assure that the best possible level of control is offered by treatments used to imported risk goods. Only competent individuals and organizations can to deliver official treatment activities. That is why, treatment providers and oversees treatments are approved by MPI.

Providers of Offshore Treatment

Offshore treatment providers are not approved by MPI. Nevertheless, they advise you to use treatment providers appreciated by biosecurity agencies located in the following countries: India, Lao, Fiji, Malaysia, Peru, Indonesia, Papua, Sri Lanka, New Guinea, Vietnam, Thailand and Philippines. On the Australian Department of Agriculture and Water Resources Australian website you can check treatment providers status.

You can meet requirements with the help of MPI website 

On the following website, step-by-step guides have been developed to help you comply and understand with import health standards and MPI requirements. In one place, you can understand how all the needed documents are involved and referred.

Visit the official website for further information: customs of New Zealand 

Here you can find an official video of the port of Tauranga

General importing requirements

It is to the importers that returns the responsibility of helping New Zealand to make sure that no pest enters the country and assure that the importer food is safe. Let’s see more responsibilities importers have.

Biosecurity requirements 

For any plant products and plants, animal products and animal, and other commodities with organisms (personal effects or sea containers for instance), importers have to meet the biosecurity specifications in import health standards.

Without import health standard, you won’t be allowed to import the products. Those standards define what to do to bring in:

  • Animals products and animals
  • Plant products and plant
  • Other commodities (personal effects and containers for instance)

Step-by-step guides have been created for importers according to what kind of products they import. In the guides you have all the details of what you need to import your commodity, product or animal successfully.

Registration for food importer

You need both to meet biosecurity requirements and be registered as an importer of food with MPI.

Customs clearance is mandatory for all imports

All imported goods for business reasons have to be declared and cleared through NZCS, New Zealand Customs Service. The importer has to submit an ECI, electronic cargo information or an import entry and register with Customs.

Visit the official website here: Ministry of transport of New Zeland