Transhipment approval for hazardous substances in transit through New Zealand

If you plan to bring a hazardous substance into New Zealand temporarily, you may need to apply for a transhipment approval before it can enter the country. Find out more here.

If the substance is an explosive (class 1 classification), you may also need a permit from WorkSafe NZ.

The ‘transhipment’ of a hazardous substance means that the material will be exported out of New Zealand within 20 working days of importing it. This includes goods:

  • that remain on board the vessel (ships or aircraft) while in transit
  • offloaded onto offshore barges or platforms, and
  • put into storage on land.

When a shipment is not considered a transhipment

If the hazardous substance will be in New Zealand for more than 20 working days, it is considered an import and different rules apply. If you import the goods and process them in any way before they leave New Zealand (including repackaging), you will need approval to import the goods, rather than a transhipment approval.

For more information about importing hazardous substances into New Zealand

Find out if you need a transhipment approval or permit Plus

Depending on your plans, you may need to apply for a transhipment approval from us, the EPA (see table below).

If your shipment contains explosives (class 1 substances), you may also need to apply for a transhipment permit from WorkSafe New Zealand.

What is in the shipment

What you need to do

No hazardous substances You do not need to apply for a transhipment approval or permit
Hazardous substances, no explosives (class 1 substances) Contact us, the EPA, to discuss your plans, as you may need to apply for a transhipment approval if:
  • the substance(s) are unapproved for use in New Zealand, or
  • you cannot comply with the conditions of a substance’s approval while in New Zealand.
Hazardous substances, including explosives (class 1 substances) Contact us to discuss your intentions, as you may need to apply for:
  • a transhipment approval from us, the EPA, and/or
  • a transhipment permit from WorkSafe New Zealand.

Please have the following information to hand when you contact us:

  • the flag of the vessel
  • details of the hazardous substances in the shipment: names, quantities, UN numbers, hazard class, and NEQ for explosives
  • the intended port(s), length of stay and proposed transhipment activities.
How to apply for a transhipment approval or permit Plus

1. Allow plenty of time – we encourage all applicants to contact us at least one month before the intended shipment to discuss the transhipment arrangements.

2. Based on the information you give us, we will check and let you know whether you need to apply for a transhipment approval from us. You should also check with WorkSafe New Zealand to establish whether a WorkSafe transhipment permit is required. You may choose to contact them earlier. (In some situations, you may not need an approval or a permit.)

3. Ensure your shipper contacts the New Zealand port(s) on the planned route to find out their off-loading, transport and storage requirements. If you are transporting explosives, check for any limits on the amount and type of explosives the ports can handle. 

For more information about the explosive-handling capacity of specific New Zealand ports

4. If a transhipment approval is required, download and complete the application form below. 

Application form for approval for transhipment of a hazardous substance (docx 137KB)

5. Send your completed form to us with relevant supporting information. Please provide as much information as possible – about the hazards for the substance/s, the intended transhipment arrangement and stowage plans – to help us assess your application. We accept applications by e-mail or by mail to our Wellington office (our contact details are below). Please pay the application fee at the same time as you send your application.

See the Fees, charges and cost recovery page for the current fee

6. Once we have received all of the information needed and your application fee is paid, allow a minimum of at least ten working days while we consider the application. We will contact you if we need additional information.

See the Fees, charges and cost recovery page for the current fee

7. We will let you know the outcome by email. If we issue a transhipment approval, all conditions will be attached to the approval at the same time.

If your plans change, you must let us know as soon as possible. We cannot change the conditions of a transhipment approval after is it issued.

Handling of your confidential information Plus

Once you submit your application, all information you supply falls under the New Zealand Official Information Act (OIA) 1982, which covers government transparency and the release of official information. This means that if a request is made for the public release of your application, we may release it, unless you can show that it is commercially sensitive.

Any request for information about transhipment applications will be considered consistently with the legal requirements under the OIA and the current legislation for hazardous substances. If you wish to keep information confidential, you may be asked to justify this. Commercially-sensitive information may be added to the application form as an appendix and marked clearly as confidential.

You may also choose not to supply information. Document this in your application form, in the Appendix: ‘Request for information waiver under section 59 of the HSNO Act’.

Note: if we do not have adequate information to assess your application, we will contact you to ask for more information, which may delay the processing of your application.

Contact us to discuss your shipment Plus

Freephone (within NZ) on 0800 2255 372 (0800 CALL EPA)

Email at