Requirements for all businesses
Product safety is the responsibility of everyone supplying goods — including importers, manufacturers, distributors and retailers.
There are few mandatory standards in New Zealand, but there is a general legal requirement under the Consumer Guarantees Act that all products sold in New Zealand should be ‘safe’. This isn't defined, but would cover issues such as:
- testing to voluntary standards
- the likely use and foreseeable misuse of the product
- how the product is marketed — particularly whether it would be appealing to children.
Product likely to be used by children or infants
If a product is likely to be used by children or infants, or be mistaken for a toy, you should consider the item's safety — regardless of whether it falls under any specified regulations. We also recommend that you consider principles such as 'reasonably foreseeable abuse' (included in the toy safety standard AS/NZS 8124). This is where a product might be used in a way it's not designed for and this could pose a safety hazard.
See Making sure products are safe for more information.
Mandatory product safety standards
In essence, the legal onus is squarely on suppliers to supply safe goods, but the law is not prescriptive as to how that should be done. The best way, therefore, of showing that a product is safe is by showing that it complies with a relevant product safety standard. A certificate of compliance from a laboratory that's accredited to carry out testing to that standard is a good way of demonstrating this.
International Accreditation New Zealand (IANZ) may be able to provide you with details of accredited testing facilities. Testing does not have to be done in New Zealand, testing by overseas laboratories is acceptable where the laboratory has accreditation for the tests under the International Laboratory Accreditation Cooperation (ILAC) arrangement.
The general preference in New Zealand is to use a New Zealand standard or Australia/New Zealand joint standard. Consult the Standard New Zealand catalogue for standards that may be appropriate for your product. If no suitable AS/NZS standards are available, you may look towards official ISO, European or American standards for similar products.
Enforcement of product safety standards
Failure to comply with these mandatory standards constitutes a breach of the Fair Trading Act, which is enforced by the Commerce Commission.
Current product safety standards
For a list of the current mandatory product safety standards, see About regulated products.
Under the Consumer Guarantees Act retailers have the main responsibility to the consumer for addressing product-related issues.
If you want to import certain goods into New Zealand, they must comply with the required standards. If they don't comply, they won't be permitted to enter the country. It's your responsibility to ensure that you're aware of any relevant regulations.
Declaration of Conformity for imported goods
Goods may require certification to prove that they comply with mandatory standards. Unless your consignment has certification to prove that it complies with the relevant standard, it's likely to be stopped at Customs.
You, as the importer, are liable for producing the necessary documents to prove that the goods may be brought into the country. Test Certificates must be from a laboratory that's accredited under ISO 17025 for the specific standard and tests required.
International Accreditation New Zealand (IANZ) may be able to provide you with details of accredited testing facilities.
If you plan to import a product, it must not be subject to an Unsafe Goods Notice or Product Safety Standard Regulation.
For more information see About regulated products.
Approval of products in New Zealand
- we don't provide testing or accreditation services, and
- cannot offer legal or compliance advice.
There's no government agency in New Zealand that approves products for sale. If you need information relating to a specific product, we recommend you seek an independent legal opinion from a commercial lawyer.