Shipping From Australia to New Zealand: What Do I Need to Know?

So, you’re thinking of tapping into the New Zealand market? As an Australian importer or exporter, there are lots of benefits of trading with New Zealand. Our neighbour across the ditch is our eighth largest trading partner and was ranked our ‘best friend’ by the Lowy Institute in 2017.

Both countries are important to one another economically, politically and strategically, with a two-way, quarantine-free Trans-Tasman “bubble” on the horizon. However, there a few things you’ll need to know when transporting your goods to and from our southern neighbour.

Below, we’ll look into what you must consider before shipping to New Zealand, including strict biosecurity regulations imposed by the NZ Ministry of Primary Industries.

Benefits of shipping to and from New Zealand

The two major benefits of importing from and exporting to New Zealand are:

  • Our Free Trade Agreement; and
  • A thriving New Zealand marketplace.

Australia-New Zealand Closer Economic Relations Trade Agreement

The Australia-New Zealand Closer Economic Relations Trade Agreement (ANZCERTA), signed between the two countries in 1983, is a highly comprehensive free trade agreement that covers practically all trade between Australia and New Zealand.

The broad aims of ANZCERTA are to strengthen the relationship between both countries, as well as deepen the economic relations between us by completely removing all barriers to trade.

Some of the excellent benefits you can take advantage of in ANZCERTA include:

  • No tariffs or quantitative restrictions on trade originating in the “Free Trade Area” – make sure that, when trading, you have a valid Certificate of Origin declaring where your goods were made;
  • Harmonised food standards through the Australia New Zealand Food Authority (ANZFA) Agreement, struck in 1995, which has meant lower compliance costs and less red tape;
  • Restriction-free services can be traded between the two countries since the signing of the Trade in Services Protocol;
  • Removed technical barriers to trade, with a mutual recognition of occupations, meaning skilled workers can move to and from each country much easier (facilitated by the Trans-Tasman Mutual Recognition Arrangement); and
  • Easier two-way investment with the signing of the March 2013 Investment Protocol.

Here at ICE, we can organise a valid Certificate of Origin for your business prior to export so that you can take advantage of duty free trade under the Agreement.

On top of this, Australia and New Zealand entered into the ASEAN-Australia-New Zealand Free Trade Agreement (AANZFTA) in 2009 with countries of the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) – the ultimate goal being the liberalisation of trade in goods, services and investments between all countries in the area.

Both Australia and New Zealand also committed to the Single Economic Market (SEM) agenda, which aims to bring both nations’ economies into harmony with one another by reducing unnecessary costs arising from conflicting or duplicate regulations in either country’s operations.

You can read more Australia’s free trade agreements here.

New Zealand market

New Zealand has a buzzing marketplace, and has enjoyed one of the world’s most resilient economies in the face of the worldwide pandemic that has decimated so many businesses. In 2020, New Zealand exported 13.6% of its exports to Australia (worth approximately US$5.28 billion), only behind China (with exports worth approximately US$10.7 billion).

In contrast, New Zealand’s key imports in 2020 included:

  • Nuclear reactors, boilers, machinery and mechanical appliances.
  • Vehicles.
  • Electrical machinery and equipment.
  • Mineral fuels, mineral oils and products of their distillation.
  • Plastics; and
  • Certain medical apparatus and pharmaceutical products.

New opportunities from Australian businesses may be on the horizon in particular industries. It was announced in March 2021 that New Zealand will once again begin to import Queensland melons under new trade conditions. This was after New Zealand’s suspension of Queensland cucurbit fruit trade in December 2019, when the cucumber green mottle mosaic virus was discovered on exported melons.

Australian agricultural minister David Littleproud stated that Queensland produces a third of Australia’s watermelons, affirming that the “resumption of Queensland melon trade with our Tasman neighbours means jobs and certainty for our farmers, and confirms the strength of our bilateral ties.”

In light of tensions with China, there may also be more opportunities to export to New Zealand than before. It was recently reported, for example, that exports in Australian Vintage wine has been particularly strong to countries such as New Zealand after falling reliance on China for exports.

Import and export regulations in New Zealand

Before shipping to New Zealand, you must be across the relevant import and export rules to avoid unnecessary costs and delays down the line.

Goods exported to New Zealand will need to be declared, with formal documentation for import entry clearance to be lodged with the New Zealand Customs Service in no more than five days before arrival via sea and one day prior to arrival via air.

Your goods will also need to be verified by the Ministry of Primary Industries (MPI) to ensure they comply with biosecurity regulations and Zealand’s Biosecurity Act 1993. This is because New Zealand is very careful about importing goods that have potential to introduce pests into the country.

MPI released an Import Health Standard in August 2020 that highlighted the particular risk of ocean containers to New Zealand’s biosecurity:

“Sea containers are risk goods because pests and unwanted organisms may be associated with them when they arrive in NZ. The Biosecurity Act 1993 prescribes requirements for the exclusion, eradication and effective management of pests and unwanted organisms in NZ. These organisms have the potential to cause harm to natural and physical resources and human health in NZ. MPI is responsible for enforcing the provisions of the Biosecurity Act 1993.”

What does this mean for importers?

It means that New Zealand importers will be subject to rigorous requirements when bringing in goods from overseas.

Australian exporters should keep a close eye on these obligations to ensure their New Zealand customers receive their goods without delay.

At least 12 hours prior to the arrival of a sea container and cargo into New Zealand, importers must send the following information to MPI about all ocean containers (see Part 2 of the August 2020 IHS):

  • Sea container number and type;
  • Country of origin;
  • Ports of loading and discharge;
  • Importer and exporter details;
  • New Zealand specified transitional facility destination;
  • Sea Container Quarantine Declaration (note that, from 1 February 2021, all Sea Container Quarantine Declarations must be made in accordance with Schedule 2 of the IHS)
  • Complete and accurate description of the cargo or tariff code, including all packaging;
  • Treatment certificate (where treated under Part 3 of this IHS); and
  • Evidence of sealing (where appropriate), where evidence is the seal number and dated stamped photographs of the seal.

Working with an experienced freight forwarder, such as International Cargo Express, all these details will be submitted on your behalf and you will be given relevant guidance of information to be supplied.

There are also strict requirements that all ocean containers imported into New Zealand must be:

  • clean and free of regulated pests and biosecurity contamination;
  • accompanied by a Sea Container Quarantine Declaration:
  • sealed (and remain sealed) until an inspector gives permission for the sea container to be unpacked at a Transitional Facility; and
  • inspected or checked at a Transitional Facility by legally approved persons under the Act (for example, MPI Inspectors or Accredited Persons).

All import containers into NZ require delivery to an ATF (Approved Transitional Facility) under MPI regulations.

For any importers who are not ATF approved, our New Zealand partner has depots nationwide which are ATF approved enabling us to unpack containers “in-house”.

Do not incur additional costs: plan in advance

If you do not follow IHS regulations, you will most likely incur additional costs.

This is especially true if your import does not operate out of an Approved Transitional Facility.

Make sure you plan in advance. We can give you a quote to unpack and deliver your cargo via an ATF, or you can apply to register your facility as an ATF online.

Stink Bug Season in New Zealand: Know the rules

Similar to Australia, New Zealand has strict biosecurity rules when it comes to stink bug season, when the Brown Marmorated Stink Bug (BMSB) presents an enhanced risk to your cargo.

Stink Bug Season in New Zealand begins on 1 September each year and runs until 30th May.

There are 37 countries to which BMSB management applies in New Zealand, which can you can read on the MPI’s website.

There are also strict BMSB regulations for goods imported via sea containers in Italy, which you can read here.

For more information on this topic, read our Ultimate Stink Bug Season Guide.

Use a freight forwarder when shipping to New Zealand

Shipping to and from New Zealand is complicated.Minimise the risk of extra costs and unwanted delays by engaging a professional freight forwarder to handle all the complexities of your shipment.

Here at ICE, our friendly team of professionals have:

  • Over 25 years of in-house customs experience in New Zealand;
  • Competitive pricing, backed by the best customer service;
  • Multimodal transport capability across New Zealand; and
  • Ocean freight services less than 5 days between Australia and NZ.

You can read more about our services to and from Zealand right here.

If you’ve got any questions about your next shipment across the ditch, and if you’re keen to find out more about what you must consider before shipping to New Zealand, please contact our expert team of freight forwarders on1300 227 461 or leave a comment below.

Request a Free Quote or call us on 1300 227 461

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