Import or export radioactive material

Before you import or export radioactive materials you must obtain a consent under section 24 of the Radiation Safety Act 2016. Some conditions or exemptions may apply.

What you need to know

To import or export radioactive material you need to know about:

  • registering with the Office of Radiation Safety
  • the types of consents (either general or individual) and conditions that apply
  • applying for a consent and paying the fee
  • any exemptions
  • keeping your details up to date.

Read more about consents in Section 24 of the Radiation Safety Act on the NZ Legislation website.

What you need to do

1. Register as an importer or exporter

You must register before you can apply for a consent. Registration is free, simple and quick. By registering, your details can be easily accessed for future applications – you don’t have to resubmit them every time.

To register, download and return the application form:


Regulations 10 to 14 of the Radiation Protection Regulations 2016 provide exemptions from subpart 2 (the requirement to obtain authorisations - this includes consents) and subpart 3 (the requirements to register radiation sources and to keep records) of Part 1 of the Radiation Safety Act 2016.

Each exemption is subject to the requirements specified in the associated regulation. The exemptions do not apply to the rest of the Act and therefore, relevant Codes of practice continue to apply.   

The exemptions are:

  • for dealing with americium-241 in smoke detectors
  • for dealing with nickel-63 or hydrogen-3 (tritium) in electron capture detectors or similar devices       
  • for dealing with hydrogen-3 gaseous tritium light sources
  • for dealing with irradiating apparatus used for X-ray fluorescence or X-ray diffraction.
  • for radiation sources that temporarily enter New Zealand (this is for a radiation source destined to be taken to a place outside of New Zealand).

Information for import agents

Often an importing agent has an interest in the import and clears the goods through New Zealand Customs, even though they are consigned to another party. In these circumstances, the 'agent' is regarded as the importer and must obtain the consent and comply with its conditions.

Keep your details up to date

Registrants must advise the Office of Radiation Safety of changes to their registration details as they occur.

2. Identify the type of consent you require

There are two types of consents:

For the type of consent you require, read the conditions that must be met.

General consents for unsealed sources

The Office of Radiation Safety issues general consents for transactions involving unsealed radioactive material. These sources pose a lower risk and are normally used for medical purposes. General consents authorise multiple transactions in advance, with a requirement that the details are notified quarterly to the Office of Radiation Safety. This reduces compliance obligations and helps to clear goods through New Zealand Customs efficiently.


Some conditions will be imposed with a general consent – such as requirements to:

  • maintain accurate records
  • use correct tariff codes
  • file quarterly transaction returns
  • undergo compliance audits.

General consents also specify maximum monthly limits of the amount of goods able to be supplied to each end-user.

Supplies in excess of these limits require individual consents.
The limits are set at levels that are unlikely to be exceeded in normal circumstances.

Individual consents in all other cases

Individual consents are required for:

  • the export of any sources
  • the import of sealed sources
  • the import of unsealed sources in the absence of a general consent, or in excess of the levels allowable for general consents.

An individual consent must be obtained before the transaction takes place.

3. Apply for consent

To apply for consent, first read through the conditions for  the type of consent you're applying for, then  complete and return the appropriate form.

Sealed radioactive material

Unsealed radioactive material

4. Pay the consent fee

Fees for consents are set out in regulation 18 of the Radiation Safety regulations.

The import and export fees for these IAEA categories are (excl.GST):

  • category 1 or 2 radioactive material: $300
  • category 3, 4 or 5 radioactive material: $80
  • category 3, 4 or 5 radioactive material under a general consent: $400 per annum.

Fees are payable at the time of making the application (section 14(c) of the Radiation Safety Act 2016).

Arrangements with the New Zealand Customs Service

The Office of Radiation Safety and New Zealand Customs Service have put in place a number of initiatives to ensure sources are cleared efficiently and reporting is streamlined.

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