Importing or manufacturing hazardous substances in New Zealand

Before you can import a hazardous substance into New Zealand, or manufacture it here, there is a process to follow and steps to complete.

1. Provide the EPA with your business contact information Plus

If you import or manufacture a hazardous substance, you must supply us with your business contact information.

Importer and manufacturer form

Information we need from you

  • Your name, as the importer or manufacturer
  • Your company name, as registered in New Zealand, if different from above
  • The business address in New Zealand. If that’s not available, your New Zealand residential address
  • The contact details for an authorised contact person in New Zealand, including their name, email address, phone number, and relationship to your business (for example, employee, agent or director)
  • Your business website address (if any).

When to give this information

You need to provide us with this information within 30 days of the first time you import or manufacture a hazardous substance. Once you have provided it for the first import or manufacture, there is no need to provide this information again for any subsequent import or manufacture.

If your details have changed you need to update them. You can do this by submitting a new online form.

Why we need this information

We’re asking for this information to better understand who is involved in the trade of hazardous substances in New Zealand. It will also help us to ensure you remain up to date with information and guidance on how to comply with the relevant hazardous substance rules.

2. Know the ingredients of your product and if they are hazardous Plus

Every hazardous substance must be approved under the Hazardous Substances and New Organisms (HSNO) Act before you can import, manufacture or use them. When approved, each hazardous substance gets a corresponding approval number. 

Each new mixture of substances will form a new substance. For example, if you mix two approved hazardous substances together, you have manufactured a third, new, substance. This new substance must be approved before you manufacture it and it will have a different approval from the initial substances.

The HSNO system approves substances, not products. Multiple products may have the same approval, for instance, different weedkiller products by different companies may be considered to be the same substance and therefore use the same approval. Before importing or manufacturing a new product, find out if it meets the criteria for a substance already covered by an existing approval. 

Before you can determine whether you can assign your product to an existing approval, the substance must be classified for its hazardous properties (hazards). If the product has no hazards, it is considered to be non-hazardous and you don't need to worry about HSNO approval.

You need to know what's in your hazardous substance

To classify the hazards in your product, you will need to know all the ingredients in the product, the amount of each ingredient and the hazards of each ingredient. You can look up hazard classifications, how to do the calculations, and how to match to approvals on the EPA website.

Assign the product to a group standard or individual approval

Group standards are based on the use and the hazards of substances. To determine which group standard your product fits, find a group standard from the list that matches the use of your product. Then check the scope of the group standard, which is mostly based on the hazards, to make sure your product is covered. If your product does not fit under the scope of the group standard, then it must not be assigned to it.

If your product is a pesticide veterinary medicine, timber treatment chemical, fumigant or vertebrate toxic agent then you need to check the approved hazardous substances database for substances with existing individual approvals with the same active ingredient and hazard classifications.

If your product doesn’t match a group standard or an individual approval you will need to make an application to the EPA.

Check that the hazardous ingredients are listed on our website

If you have matched your product to a group standard, it is likely that all the hazardous ingredients of your product must appear on the New Zealand Inventory of Chemicals (NZIoC). Check your group standard to make sure this is the case. If you have a hazardous ingredient that does not appear on the NZIoC you will need to notify the EPA of the new chemical component.

Keep a record

You must keep a record of how you have determined which approval your product matches and have it ready if anyone asks for it.

We're here to help

Approvals under the HSNO regime can often be very technical. If you need a steer in the right direction, please contact us here at the EPA.

3. Get a current safety data sheet Plus

It is essential to obtain or prepare a current safety data sheet (SDS) for each hazardous substance and to understand it.

A SDS is needed because it provides information about hazards of the product, how to handle, store, transport, and dispose of it safely. An SDS also provides information on how the substance could affect health and safety of people and the environment, and how to manage the hazardous substance in an emergency.

An SDS must be obtained or prepared before first importing or manufacturing a hazardous substance for use in or supply to a workplace; or if that is not possible, as soon as practicable after first importing or manufacturing the hazardous substance, but before using or supplying it to a workplace. If you're supplying a hazardous substance to a workplace you will also need the SDS that complies with NZ requirements.

New Zealand requirements for safety data sheets

You must prepare or obtain Safety Data Sheets in accordance with the EPA Hazardous Substances (Safety Data Sheets) Notice. This Notice sets the rules for the content and format of a SDS. The Notice requires all SDS to be in the 16-header GHS format.

You are responsible for:

  • preparing SDS for the hazardous substance before it is manufactured or imported, or as soon as is practicable, but before using or supplying it to a workplace
  • reviewing SDS at least once every five years and amending when necessary to make sure it contains correct and current information.

A supplier of a hazardous substance must provide the SDS when supplying to a workplace or upon request.

Reviewing safety data sheets

You must review and update any SDS produced at least every five years. All SDS must state the date they were last revised (this information must be included in Section 16—Other Information).

Read more about obtaining or preparing a safety data sheet

4. Label your hazardous substances correctly Plus

Labelling provides information on the hazards of substances so they can be managed safely. This is often the most readily available information in an emergency.

You must label hazardous substances in English and in accordance with the EPA Hazardous Substance (Labelling) Notice.

You should include the following information on the label:

  • the hazards of the substance
  • instructions for disposal of the substance
  • what to do in an emergency, e.g. first aid or fire.

You also must include the:

  • product name
  • New Zealand importer, supplier or manufacturer’s physical address or telephone number
  • a 24 hour emergency telephone number (when required for certain hazard classes)
  • directions for use, including, where relevant, dilution rates and dose rates.

Signal words

The signal words DANGER or WARNING must be on the label. DANGER is used for the most dangerous substances, while WARNING is used for less dangerous substances. Products imported from Australia might use different signal words such as CAUTION, POISON or DANGEROUS POISON. CAUTION is used for the least dangerous while DANGEROUS POISON is used for the most dangerous substances.

Hazard Statements

Hazard statements must also be on the label. These statements alert you to the harm that the product can cause for example, MAY CAUSE MILD SKIN IRRITATION.

Precautionary statements

Precautionary statements must be on the label. They are phrases that describe the recommended measures that should be taken to minimise or prevent adverse effects resulting from exposures to a hazardous product, or from improper storage or handling of a hazardous product, for example, KEEP OUT OF REACH OF CHILDREN, or, USE ONLY OUTDOORS OR IN A WELL-VENTILATED AREA.

Find the labelling rules that apply to your substance

5. Package your product properly Plus

A package containing a hazardous substance must:

  • prevent escape of the hazardous substance (no leaks)
  • not be adversely affected by the hazardous substance; and
  • be strong enough to withstand normal handling and to prevent potentially hazardous incidents.

In addition, if the package has a replaceable lid (or screw top) this must continue to prevent escape even after repeated use.
The packaging for some hazardous substances must not have a shape or design likely to attract the active curiosity of children or mislead consumers. This applies regardless of whether the packaging is re-sealable or not.

You must package hazardous substances in accordance with the EPA Hazardous Substances (Packaging) Notice.