Everyone supplying goods is responsible for product safety

Product safety is the responsibility of everyone supplying goods to consumers – including importers, manufacturers, distributors and retailers of goods – under both the Consumer Guarantees Act and the Fair Trading Act.

Under the Consumer Guarantees Act, the retailer has 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 do not comply, they will not be permitted to enter the country. It is your responsibility to ensure that you are aware of any relevant regulations.

Approval of products in New Zealand

Please note that Trading Standards (within Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment):

  • does not provide testing or accreditation services, and
  • is unable to offer legal or compliance advice.

There is no government agency in New Zealand which approves products for sale. For further information relating to a specific product, you should seek an independent legal opinion from a commercial lawyer.

'Safe' products

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 is not defined, but would cover such issues as testing to voluntary standards, the likely use and foreseeable misuse of the product, how it is marketed, and particularly whether it would be appealing to children.

If a product is likely to be used by children or infants, or mistaken for a toy, there would be some concerns about its safety regardless of whether it falls under any specified regulations. We also recommend consideration of principles (included in the toy safety standard AS/NZS 8124) such as “reasonably foreseeable abuse”, where a product may be used in a way which it is not designed for, but which may pose safety hazards if used in this way.

See Making sure products are safe for more information.

Supplying safe goods

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 that it complies with a relevant product safety standard, carrying a certificate of compliance from a laboratory which is accredited to carry out testing to that standard.

The general preference in New Zealand is to use a New Zealand standard or Australia/New Zealand joint standard. In that regard for New Zealand and Australia you should consult with Standards New Zealand to see which standards may be appropriate for your product. If no suitable AS/NZS standards are available, you may look towards ISO, European or American standards for similar products.

Contact Standards New Zealand by calling 0800 STANDARDS (0800 735 656) or visit the Standards (external link)NZ website.

The product safety standard regulations are available from selected bookshops or visit the New Zealand Legislation website(external link).

Fair Trading Act

Failure to comply with mandatory standards constitutes a breach of the Fair Trading Act, which is enforced by the Commerce Commission.

See here for more information.(external link)

For details of accredited testing facilities you may wish to contact IANZ – International Accreditation New Zealand, who may be able to provide details of appropriate test laboratories.

Visit the IANZ website.(external link)

Importing specific products – Declaration of Conformity

Goods may require certification to prove that they comply with product standards.

Importers of hot water bottles and cigarette lighters may be required to produce additional documentation for any shipment.

Unless your consignment has certification to prove that it complies with the relevant Standard, it is 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 which is accredited under ISO 17025 for the specific standard  and tests required.

Contact International Accreditation New Zealand for details of testing laboratories.(external link)

Hot water bottles

Hot water bottles need a test certificate from a laboratory accredited to BS 1970:2012 under ISO 17025, certifying that the hot water bottles comply with British Standard BS 1970:2012 Hot water bottles manufactured from rubber and PVC Specification. The certificate must be less than 36 months old.

Cigarette lighters

Cigarette lighters need a certificate of compliance that states that the lighter complies with the American standard 16 CFR 1210.4

This information must be made available to an officer of the New Zealand Customs Service or the Commerce Commission within 10 days of any such request.

Current Product Safety Standards 

  • Baby walkers must comply with specific sections of the American Standard ASTM F977-03 Consumer Safety Specification for Infant Walkers under the Product Safety Standards (Baby Walkers) Regulations 2001 and the 2005 amendment.
  • Children’s nightwear must comply with specific parts of the Standard AS/NZS 1249:2003 Children’s Nightwear and limited daywear having reducing fire hazard (with NZ only Amendment A 2008) under the Product Safety Standard (Children’s Nightwear and Limited Daywear Having Reduced Fire Hazard) Regulations 2008.
  • Children’s toys must comply with specific parts of the Standard AS/NZS ISO 8124.1:2002 Safety of toys - Part 1: Safety aspects related to mechanical and physical properties under the Product Safety Standards (Toys) Regulations 2005 for toys intended for use by children up to the age of 36 months.
  • Household cots must comply with specific sections of the Standard AS/NZS 2172:2003 Cots for household use – Safety requirements under the Product Safety Standards (Household Cots) Regulations.
  • Pedal bicycles must comply with specific sections of the standard AS/NZS 1927:1998 Pedal bicycles – Safety requirements under the Product Safety Standards (Pedal Bicycle) Regulations 2000 and the 2003 amendment.
  • Cigarette lighters must comply with specific sections of two Standards: ISO 9994:1995E and American Standard CFR 16 Part 1210 Safety Standard for Cigarette Lighters under the Product Safety Standards (Cigarette Lighters) Regulations 1998. See above for details. 

Current Unsafe Goods Notices 

  • Unsafe Goods (Small High Powered Magnets) Notice 2013
  • Unsafe Goods (Multipurpose Ladders) Notice 2012
  • Unsafe Goods (Chainsaws without a chain brake) Notice 2009
  • Unsafe Goods (Lead in children's toys) Indefinite Prohibition Notice 2009 
  • Unsafe Goods (Hot Water Bottles) Notice 2015
  • Unsafe Goods (Candles and Candlewicks) Notice 2001
  • Unsafe Goods (Pistol Crossbows) Notice 1988.

See here for more information on Current Unsafe Goods Notices.