Importing and using products from overseas

Last updated: 29 April 2016

You should understand how an imported product complies with the New Zealand Building Code, and be aware of certain restrictions and possible fees.

If you want to import, sell or use an overseas product, it is important to do your research first.

Most overseas building products can be imported into New Zealand without restriction or the need for any approval.

However, not all imported products will automatically comply with the New Zealand Building Code. Sometimes there is not enough existing evidence to show that they do, so you may need to do your own testing or assessment.

If you intend to sell imported products in New Zealand, there is a range of legislation you need to comply with. This includes meeting your obligations under consumer legislation, as well as ensuring the product complies with all relevant provisions of the Building Code.

Importing and selling overseas products

To make sure the products you import will be suitable to be used in New Zealand, you should ask the manufacturer to supply you with technical information and evidence that shows compliance with New Zealand building regulations.

You may also want to arrange for your own product tests or assessments to be carried out. While overseas building products may be tested to international standards, you will need to check the relevancy of these standards to New Zealand conditions.

Our performance based Building Code has some specific requirements relating to our environments (such as seismic activity, exposure to salt-laden winds and sea spray, high ultra-violet light levels and wind-driven rain).

Overseas testing may be relevant, but you still need to demonstrate the product meets specific performance requirements of the Building Code.

Your customers may find it difficult to be issued with a building consent without information that proves the product, when installed correctly, will comply with the Building Code.

You may also breach consumer legislation by selling products that are not fit for purpose.

Restrictions on some imports

You can bring most building products into New Zealand relatively easily. However, there are some important exceptions.

Products with potential biosecurity concerns

Biosecurity Act 1993 places restrictions on the import of some forest and wood products such as plywood, particle board, timber, poles and laminated beams.

This does not mean you cannot import these items but you do need to comply with any relevant rules and restrictions, and you may also need to obtain a permit.

Ministry for Primary Industries controls biosecurity in New Zealand. Before importing any products that could be deemed a biosecurity risk please check their website.

Hazardous products

Products such as some paints, glues and sealants must have approval before they can be brought into the country, this is covered under the Hazardous Substances and New Organisms Act 1996.

Environmental Protection Authority controls whether a product is classed as a hazardous substance.  Contact them to check this or to apply for an approval.

Prohibited items

New Zealand Customs Service controls the import of goods and provides an online list of all goods prohibited from entering the country. You should check its website for the latest information.

Tax, duties and tariffs

If you import building products into New Zealand for either personal or commercial use you may be required to pay goods and services tax (GST) or other fees, duties and tariffs.

Trade remedy action can be placed on imported goods dumped on the New Zealand market to make sure competition is fair to local manufacturers.

In 2014, the Government suspended anti-dumping duties for th ree years on a range of residential building products. The scheme also lifted certain import tariffs on some building products for more than three years.

This scheme covers materials and products generally used in residential construction, such as:

  • cladding
  • roofing
  • plasterboard
  • insulation
  • electrical fittings
  • plumbing fittings.

Anti-dumping duties and import tariffs may still be payable on products that are generally used in commercial building work.

The New Zealand Customs Service collects these charges on behalf of the Government. You should check their website for more details and a list of charges.

You can also view a list of building products the duties and tariffs scheme applies to.

Using imported products in your building work

Overseas products may not comply with the New Zealand Building Code, even though importers and suppliers have responsibilities to show they do.

If you are seeking a building consent, you will have to demonstrate to the BCA how the product complies. It is a good idea to check whether the product has been used successfully in New Zealand before.

You should also make sure the manufacturer, local importer or supplier has provided good technical information with their product. This will help you to demonstrate to the BCA that the product complies with the Building Code.

If the product has been tested overseas and to international standards, you may have some assurance that the product is safe and fit for purpose. However, you will still need to check the relevancy of these standards to New Zealand conditions, and make sure you can show compliance with our Building Code.

This information is published by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment’s Chief Executive. It is a general guide only and, if used, does not relieve any person of the obligation to consider any matter to which the information relates according to the circumstances of the particular case. Expert advice may be required in specific circumstances. Where this information relates to assisting people: