Electronic Certification (eCert) for imports

​​​​eCerts are now available for sanitary certificates issued by New Zealand’s Ministry of Primary Industries. This excludes certificates issued by New Zealand for live animals and reproductive material.

Read more about eCert availability and refer to the Help Card.

eCert for imports is an electronic system that enables us to receive overseas government certificates in a digital format. This includes phytosanitary and sanitary certificates for food and agricultural imports.

These digital certificates:

  • Contain the same information as paper certificates.
  • Are received in a secure government-to-government exchange.
  • Are coded using Extensible Markup Language (XML). The XML is then converted into a readable certificate display by the eCert for Imports system.
  • Are integrated into the department’s Agriculture Imports Management System (AIMS) for import clearance purposes.

If the eCert has been lodged correctly, brokers and importers do not need to submit a paper certificate with their lodgements.

eCert availability

eCert is available for government certificates from:

  • Indonesia, Ministry of Agriculture, Agency of Agricultural Quarantine – effective April 2019.
  • New Zealand, Ministry for Primary Industries – phytosanitary certificates effective November 2012, sanitary certificates effective August 2019

We continue to work with overseas government agencies to establish additional eCert connections.

Read more about eCert expansion.

Please note:

  • Other supporting documentation must be submitted via the Cargo Online Lodgement System.
  • There are no changes to the procedures for foreign certificates under the Imported Food Act 1992.

eCert countries and certificate formats

This table highlights the countries the department currently has an eCert exchange with:

Country Government certificate type AQIS Document Type AQIS Document Number format
IndonesiaPhytosanitary IDPHYTO2019123456K10E123456/1234567
New Zealand Phytosanitary NZPHYTO NZL2019/ABCD/123456
Sanitary NZSANITARYNZL2019/ABCD/987654

A Help Card is available for eCert countries and certificate formats. This highlights any country-specific formatting requirements.


DocumentPagesFile size
Help Card PDFPDF Icon3468 KB
Help Card DOCXWord Icon3375 KB

eCert expansion

The International Plant Protection Convention (IPPC) has established a global IPPC ePhyto Hub. Any countries connected to the Hub can exchange certificates through this centralised system. Work is in progress to establish a connection with the global IPPC ePhyto Hub.

Lodging import declarations with eCert

When lodging import declarations, brokers and importers need to accurately enter government certificate details in third party software or the ICS in accordance with the Minimum documentary and import declaration requirements policy.

Information must be entered in both:

  • AQIS Document Type —drop down field used to select the relevant country and certificate type.
  • AQIS Document Number — free-text field used to record the government certificate number. This must entered in the correct format for each country and/or certificate type.

Refer to eCert countries and certificate formats.

For example, for a NZ phytosanitary certificate:

AQIS Document type: NZPHYTO and AQIS Document number: NZL2019/ABCD/12345.

Software providers should be contacted if there are any issues using or locating these fields.

When both fields have been entered correctly, the details are cross-checked and matched in AIMS.

Departmental officers processing these entries will be able to view digital certificates in the eCert for Imports system.

Using Customs Interactive

Customs brokers and importers can use Customs Interactive to lodge import declarations with government certificates.

Customs Interactive does not allow wildcard characters (including “/#”) in free-text fields. Use a space in place of a wildcard character.

Customs brokers and importers will still select the applicable AQIS Document Type. However, must add a space where a wildcard is used for AQIS Document Number (such as a certificate number).

This does not apply to customs brokers and importers lodging via third party software.

This table shows how to enter certificate details in Customs Interactive:

Lodgement Type AQIS Document Type fieldAQIS Document Number field
Third party software NZPHYTO NZL2019/ABCD/12345
Customs Interactive NZPHYTO NZL2019 ABCD 12345

Benefits of digital certificates – paperless trade

Transitioning to eCert exchanges is helping us to prepare for future global challenges. This includes increased volume and complexity of trade.

It will modernise the way we trade with other countries, and uses technology to strengthen our biosecurity system.

The ultimate goal of eCert is paperless trading.

eCert benefits include:

  • Certificates are transferred securely between governments. This reduces the opportunity for fraudulent certificates to be presented
  • Provides assurance that goods being imported comply with food safety, animal and plant health requirements
  • Reduces reliance on paper, in line with international standards
  • Provides an instant connection with other government agencies, reducing time delays for certificates to be presented to us
  • Provides prior notice of imports, which could be used for pre-clearance of goods
  • Helps eliminate ‘lost’ documents
  • Seamless interface for industry clients
  • Improved efficiency and integrity for staff assessing certificates.


For more information email eCert imports.

Last reviewed: 4 November 2019
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