About regulated products
New Zealand products can be regulated by mandatory Product Safety Standards, Unsafe Goods Notices, product safety policy statements, and compulsory recall orders.
Mandatory Product Safety Standards
Product Safety Standards are regulations made under section 29 of the Fair Trading Act 1986. The purpose of these regulations is to prevent or reduce the risk of injury to any person.
Before recommending that a Product Safety Standard be introduced, the Minister of Commerce and Consumer Affairs must:
- consult with such persons or representatives of such persons as he/she considers will be substantially affected by the proposed product safety standard
- provide those persons with an opportunity to comment, and
- consider such comment.
A Product Safety Standard may cover:
- the nature of the product and its performance — for example, composition, contents, manufacture, processing, design, construction, finish or packaging
- tests the product should go through during or after manufacture
- the form and content of any markings, warnings or instructions on the product.
Once put into place as regulations, Product Safety Standards are enforced by the Commerce Commission in-market, and the New Zealand Customs Service (Customs) at the border.
The Commerce Commission has prepared guidance material to help traders understand and comply with the Product Safety Standards.
Customs may request documentary evidence of compliance and/or inspect goods before they're permitted to enter New Zealand. Non-compliant goods are deemed prohibited imports under the Fair Trading Act.
It's an offence under the Fair Trading Act 1986 to supply, or to offer or advertise to supply, any goods that don't comply with the requirements set out in the relevant Product Safety Standard. The Courts may impose fines of up to $200,000 for any one individual, or up to $600,000 for a company.
Goods that don't comply with a mandated Product Safety Standard are deemed prohibited imports under the Customs and Excise Act 1996. Import of such goods is an offence and the goods can be seized by Customs and forfeit.
Current mandatory Product Safety Standards
Currently there are 6 Product Safety Standards under the Fair Trading Act.
- Baby walker standard
- Bicycle standard
- Children’s nightwear standard
- Children’s toy standard
- Cigarette lighter standard
- Household cot standard
Purchasing a copy of a standard
Product Safety Standards can be purchased from Standards New Zealand.
Unsafe Goods Notices
Under section 31 of the Fair Trading Act 1986, the Minister of Commerce and Consumer Affairs can declare goods to be unsafe by publishing a notice in the New Zealand Gazette. The purpose of an Unsafe Goods Notice is to prevent or reduce the risk of injury to any person.
An Unsafe Goods Notice remains in effect for 18 months, or until revoked or replaced by the Minister.
There's no requirement for the Minister to consult before publishing an Unsafe Goods Notice, unless it is to make the notice permanent. In making a notice permanent the Minister must consult with persons who will be substantially affected by the proposed notice.
Offences and penalties
It's an offence under the Fair Trading Act 1986 to supply, or offer or advertise to supply, any goods that don't comply with an Unsafe Goods Notice. The Courts may impose fines of up to $200,000 for any one individual, or up to $600,000 for a company.
All goods covered by an Unsafe Goods Notice are deemed prohibited imports under the Customs and Excise Act 1996. Import of unsafe goods is an offence, and the goods can be seized by Customs and forfeit.
Current Unsafe Goods Notices
Currently there are Unsafe Goods Notices for:
- Small high-powered magnets Unsafe Goods Notice
- Multipurpose ladders Unsafe Goods Notice
- Chainsaws without a chain brake Unsafe Goods Notice
- Lead in children's toys Unsafe Goods Notice
- Hot water bottles Unsafe Goods Notice
- Candles and candlewicks containing lead Unsafe Goods Notice
- Pistol crossbows Unsafe Goods Notice
Product safety policy statements
The Minister of Commerce and Consumer Affairs has the power to publish product safety policy statements under section 30A of the Fair Trading Act. A policy statement can be issued where there's a safety concern relating to goods, or a class of goods, that requires some form of rectification, but where no more formal intervention is deemed necessary or appropriate.
A product safety policy statement provides guidance on the safety of those goods to suppliers and manufacturers, and enables the market to self-correct by applying the guidelines contained in the statement. A satisfactory improvement in the safety of the goods may avoid the need for a more formal regulatory intervention, such as a mandatory Product Safety Standard.
Product safety policy statements need to be reviewed every 5 years.
Current product safety policy statements
Currently there are product safety policy statements for:
Compulsory product recall orders
The Minister of Commerce and Consumer Affairs has the power to issue compulsory product recall orders under section 32 of the Fair Trading Act.
The Minister can issue a compulsory product recall order to in-trade suppliers where:
- the goods are likely to cause injury to any person, or
- the goods do not comply with a prescribed product safety standard, or
- the goods are subject to an unsafe goods notice, and
- the supplier has not recalled the goods or taken satisfactory action to recall the goods.
Under section 32, suppliers can be ordered to do any or all of the following:
- recall the goods
- publish specified information to the public, and how this must be done
- provide a specified remedy, and,
- complete the required actions by a specified date.
Compliance and enforcement
Failure to comply with a compulsory recall order is a breach of the Fair Trading Act and can result in prosecution and significant fines (up to $200,000 for individuals and $600,000 for businesses). The Commerce Commission enforces compliance with compulsory recalls.
A compulsory recall order automatically makes those goods a prohibited import under the Customs and Excise Act 1996. Prohibited imports are forfeit and can be seized by the New Zealand Customs Service.
See the Customs website for more information on prohibited imports.
Current compulsory recall orders
Currently there are compulsory recall orders for: