Importing Food, Drinks or Ingredients?

Importing food, drinks and/or ingredients? Check you are properly registered to avoid delays.

To avoid unnecessary delays to your next consignment, importers of food for sale need to have a valid Food Importer registration and complete their Intended Use declarations for all consignments of food, drinks, and ingredients.

If you import food, drinks, or ingredients for sale, you must be registered as a food importer with New Zealand Food Safety (part of the Ministry for Primary Industries). Alternatively, you can use an agent who is registered to import your food for you.

As part of New Zealand Food Safety’s improvements to the food safety system, from 30 June 2021, there will be an automatic check of Food Importer registrations for all consignments intended as food for sale. This includes tariffs in Chapters 2-5, 7-13 and 15-22 and codes 0602.90.00.01G and 1404.90.00.39C of the Working Tariff Document.

From 30 June, food consignments imported into New Zealand by unregistered importers will be held, until a Food Importer registration number is issued.

New Zealand Food Safety’s Director of Food Regulation, Paul Dansted says: “Registration helps to ensure food being imported for sale is safe and suitable for customers, and provides a critical link in the chain to assist in tracing food products if a problem occurs”.

“These registration checks reflect an ongoing, fair, and robust application of New Zealand’s food safety rules,” said Dr Dansted.

These rules apply to everyone importing food for sale including: processed food; health and dietary supplements; alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages; fresh fruit and vegetables; grains, seeds, and nuts; confectionary; and food for promotional giveaways. Imported food includes ingredients used in manufacturing of food and beverages, such as hops. For more information, see the definitions of food and sale.

Your Intended Use declarations are crucial, and getting this right will facilitate efficient border clearance. New Zealand Food Safety has published advice on Intended Use coding.

How do you register?

It is simple and inexpensive to apply. Go to Register as a Food Importer for easy-to-follow steps on how to register, renew or update your food importer registration.

It will take approximately five working days to receive a new Food Importer registration number. So if you need one, don’t delay.

“We don’t want anyone to experience an avoidable hold up with their future consignments,” Dr Dansted says.

You may need to also register as a food business under either the Food Act 2014, Animal Products Act 1999 or Wine Act 2003. To find your food rules, go to My Food Rules and complete the online questionnaire.


If you have any questions about registration as a Food Importer, or if you are unsure if the product you import is classed as food for sale, please email or call 0800 00 83 33.