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The Ultimate Guide: Food Import Customs & MPI Clearance

What is this about?
To import food into New Zealand (NZ) you need to apply and get clearance from both NZ Customs and the MPI (Ministry for Primary Industries). For some food you will need to provide extra proof that it is safe for the NZ plants and animals and for people to eat. This guidance will help you understand the full process and give more detail about what you need to do to get Food Safety Clearance.

Who should read it?
Any person or business wanting to bring food into New Zealand for sale.

• A New Zealand resident wanting to import food into NZ.
• A person or business based in another country wanting to import food into NZ.
• An import broker or agent importing food into NZ.

Why should you read it?
• To make sure you know what you have to do to get the food into New Zealand and to your customers as soon as possible.
• If you do not follow the rules, or the food is not safe or suitable, the food could be destroyed, sent back to the country it came from and you could be fined or even jailed.

What do you need to do?
On the picture is an outline of the steps you will need to complete to successfully import food into New Zealand.

Before you can move or sell the food:
• Steps 1 to 3 always need to be completed.
• Steps 4 to 7 are sometimes needed.

The Ultimate Guide_Food Import Customs and MPI Clearance_1

1. Complete an Import Entry

Complete an Import Entry on the online system Trade Single Window (TSW)

All goods coming into New Zealand are managed through a single system called Trade Single Window (TSW). If you do not provide the information there then you will be unable to get your food into NZ.

You can either contract a customs broker to help or apply to be a TSW user. See Import Entry Process on the NZ Customs website here.

2. Get Customs Clearance

In this step you must:
• Get clearance from NZ Customs before food can be distributed.
• Pay any customs duties or charges that apply.
• Follow any directions given by NZ Customs staff.

Not all food can come into New Zealand. For example:
• Anything from endangered animals.
• Food not permitted for sale in New Zealand.

You will be notified once the product is cleared. This will be via TSW or your customs broker.

3. Get Biosecurity Clearance

In this step you must:
• Get clearance from MPI biosecurity before the food can be distributed.
• Pay any charges that apply.
• Follow any directions given by MPI staff.

All items entering New Zealand could carry pests and diseases that risk the health of NZ, the environment, plants and animals. Biosecurity checks prevent this.

You will be notified once product is cleared via TSW or your customs broker.

4. Request Food Safety Clearance

In this step you must request Food Safety Clearance if notified via TSW or your broker that it is needed.

Some foods are more likely to make people sick. Extra checks are needed to make sure they are safe to eat.

By either:
• Making a request in TSW or
• Emailing a Single Use Permit form (MPI website here) to

5. Give More Information

In this step you must email the following to
• The invoice for the consignment (parcel of goods to be imported).
• The bill of lading (details of what is being imported).
• Any official certificates or manufacturer declarations needed.

So the food can be cleared as quickly as possible and you can get it to your customers on time.

• More help on offical certificates needed can be found on the MPI website.
• If you have any trouble contact MPI Clearing House (09) 909 6210 or (09) 9096211

6. Get Food Inspected, Sampled and Tested

For some food you must:
• Allow MPI staff to check it.
• Allow MPI staff to sample it.
• Arrange a lab to test it.
• Pay for the sampling and testing.
• Supply the results of the testing to MPI.

To make sure food will not make people sick if they eat it.

• MPI staff will contact you to let you know what is needed.
• Make sure MPI staff know where the food is and have easy access to it.
• You can find a list of laboratories for testing on the MPI website here.

7. Get Food Safety Clearance

In this step you must:
• Wait for food safety clearance before moving the food other than as directed by MPI.
• Follow any directions that are given on clearance.

• To make sure unsafe food is not sold.
• To stop people getting sick.
• To avoid you being fined or jailed.

Clearance is via TSW.

If the food is not safe and suitable for people to eat then you could be directed to:
• Reprocess it (carry out extra steps such as heating) to make it safe before selling it.
• Move it out of New Zealand.
• Destroy it.

More information can be found on the NZ Customs and MPI websites:


Source: Ministry of Primary Industries

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