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Hazardous substances import controls

You need approval to import hazardous substances.

Controls on importing hazardous substances

The Hazardous Substances and New Organisms (HSNO) Act 1996 controls the import of hazardous substances into New Zealand. 

If you import hazardous substances without HSNO approval, we may seize them and/or re-export them at your cost.

Hazardous substances

Hazardous substances are substances that are

  • explosive, eg fireworks
  • flammable, eg fuels and solvents
  • oxidisable, eg peroxides
  • corrosive, eg acids
  • toxic, eg some industrial chemicals
  • ecotoxic, eg pesticides and oils.

Substances can be in their pure form, or made into a product, to count as hazardous under the HSNO Act.

If the substance you’re importing doesn’t already have HSNO approval, you must get it before you import the substance. You may need to give us or other agencies the approval number.

Note: Raw asbestos does not have HSNO approval. You must apply to the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) if you want to import it.

Import permits for some hazardous substances

You need an import permit for:

  • explosives, including fireworks
  • polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), and children’s crayons, finger- and watercolour paints (you must enter the code MOH and the permit number on the Customs import entry)
  • persistent organic pollutants (POPs) covered by the Stockholm Convention (you must show us your approval to import).

Label your items

Clearly label any hazardous substances you’re importing with:

  • what they are
  • what hazardous substances they contain.

Items not covered by the HSNO Act

You do not need an HSNO approval to import:

  • manufactured items containing hazardous substances, including cars, electronics and machinery
  • substances whose hazardous properties are below certain levels
  • ready-to-eat food
  • human medicines
  • infectious substances
  • radioactive substances.

It’s your responsibility to find out whether something you’re importing falls under the HSNO Act or not.

If you’re not sure, contact the EPA.