Product notifications for vaping, herbal smoking and smokeless tobacco products

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All manufacturers and importers (notifiers) of vaping, herbal smoking and smokeless tobacco products (notifiable products) must notify the Vaping Regulatory Authority about the products they intend to sell in New Zealand. They’re also responsible for renewing any notifications once they expire after 12 months.

All products that you wish to notify about must comply with the relevant product safety requirements and standards under the regulations. Each manufacturer or importer of a product must complete their own notification for that product, even if other businesses also notify that product.

It is the responsibility of manufacturers and importers to complete a new notification, and cancel any existing notification, for a product if it undergoes a significant change after it has been notified to the Authority.

Please note: Notifiers of notifiable products are responsible for withdrawing their notifiable products if they do not meet new packaging and product safety requirements under the Smokefree Environments and Regulated Products Regulations 2021. The Vaping Regulatory Authority will not cancel these in the HARP system for you.

How to notify the notifiable products you want to sell

Manufacturers and importers can notify products via the Health Advisory and Regulatory Platform (HARP).

  • If you don’t already have one, sign up to a My Health Account by selecting ‘Log In’ on the Health Advisory and Regulatory Platform (HARP) portal.
  • Once you have a My Health Account, register for access to HARP by submitting a Registration in the portal after you’ve signed in.
  • Once you have access to HARP you need to log in and provide details of the products you intend to sell in New Zealand by completing a VRA Application, Product Notification. The information you will be required to provide in your notification depends on which of the following product types it is:
  1. Freebase Nicotine Vaping Substance 
  2. Nicotine Salts Vaping Substance 
  3. Vaping Device 
  4. Kit 
  5. Smokeless Tobacco Product 
  6. Herbal Smoking Products 

There is a fee for each product notified, currently $50+GST per product (renewed annually), excluding any card processing fees. Once payment has been received, the products will generally become notified automatically and they will appear on the Notified Products Database immediately. However, if the product contains a prohibited ingredient, the notification will go to the Vaping Regulatory Authority for a product review.

If you have a large number of products that you need to notify the VRA about (more than 20 products), you can use this template: 

Log on to HARP and select “Log in” - from there you can register or log in to make your application.

Help and guidance for product notifications

SERPA regulations

The Smokefree Environments and Regulated Products Regulations 2021 detail the requirements for product packaging and product safety. Read the regulations on the Legislation website.

Product notification guide

These guides talk you through what the process is in the HARP Portal and outline what information you are required to provide for each of the product types you have to notify:

Renewal of a product notification guide

Every 12 months you will need to renew a product notification if it is a product you still manufacture, import or distribute.

Refer to the information below for guidance about ingredients, packaging and what overseas manufacturers need to do.

Product ingredients

The Regulations require the names and quantities of vaping substance ingredients to be listed on container labels. Our expectation is that these lists will include common ingredient names rather than a full chemical breakdown of the substance. For a typical e-liquid, this will generally mean the label shows glycerol or vegetable glycerine, propylene glycol, nicotine or a nicotine salt, and a list of the flavours used in the product (as well as the quantity of each). If you have the breakdowns of flavour ingredients then they should be included in your product notification.

We would ideally collect a full chemical breakdown for each product during the notification process, and this was what was envisaged by the legislation, but we recognise that the makeup of many flavours will be proprietary to the flavour manufacturer. At this stage, we therefore accept flavours to be both notified and listed on labels using their brand name and variant (e.g. Capella Sweet Strawberry, E-Flavours Banana).

If a product has two or more proprietary flavours, then the label should list them separately but any breakdown in the notification can be for the product as a whole. If the flavour brand name and variant is also proprietary then a generic flavour name can be used on the product label but the proprietary name should be included on the notification (and marked as proprietary).

If an overseas manufacturer will not provide a breakdown of a flavour’s ingredients, please send a separate email to [email protected], including the manufacturer contact details and a list of the products. We will then investigate possible options for obtaining full chemical breakdowns for flavours to assist with our product safety monitoring. Please note that you would not be allowed to sell these products in New Zealand until we have received the required information from the overseas manufacturer.

We have allowed vaping substances to be notified with multiple nicotine strengths so the amount of each ingredient will change depending on nicotine strength, and the weight field in the HARP system (and in the Excel template) will accept a range of concentrations in mg/100mL to accommodate this rather than just a single value.

Packaging and labels

The Regulations require a label to be securely attached to the product pack or carton but does not otherwise prescribe the form of a label. Labelling requirements can therefore be met using any form of securely attached label, such as stickers or hanging tags. Some information such as use or disposal instructions can also be provided on packaging or on an insert rather than having to be on labels.

The Regulations include requirements relating to additives and appearance, and we have received queries on these, particularly in relation to flavours. The Regulations allow a product to state its flavour in text but prohibit the product from resembling (looking like) a food or a cosmetic product. This means, for example, that a vaping substance label can say it is strawberry flavour but the product cannot have a feature that looks like a strawberry.

Our expectation is that there are no substantial changes to the labelling of PG:VG ratios – so if it was previously sold as 50:50 then that’s how it should be labelled now. The ratio on the notification should then reflect what’s on the label. For the lists of ingredients, the amounts specified should reflect the actual composition of the product so, for example, PG:VG could be shown as 50:50 on the label but the ingredient list could be more like PG 12ml, VG 15ml.

The Regulations require a warning message to be displayed on the front and back surface of a package.  Where the package is a cylindrical container with no obvious front or back, the container may have only one label and the warning message would only then need to be displayed once on what would be considered the front surface.  The Regulations require the message to be displayed in the centre of the surface, and our interpretation is that it will be centred left-to-right (horizontally) when the container is orientated so the message can be read.  We do not expect the message to also be centred vertically on the container – it can be in any vertical position provided it is clearly visible.

When calculating the reserved area for a cylindrical package, it should be at least 32% of either:

  • one half of the container’s cylindrical surface area, or
  • the surface area of the container’s label(s),

whichever is greater.

For a cylindrical package that is elliptical in cross-section rather than round, we would expect any label(s) to be centred horizontally on the long side of the ellipse so they can be more easily read.

Requirement 1(e) of the Product Safety Requirements for vaping substances in Schedule 5 of the Smokefree Environments and Regulated Product Regulations 2021 states that container labels must include manufacturer’s name and contact details. It is acceptable for those labels to include the name and contact details for the NZ importer rather than the name and contact details for an overseas manufacturer.

The Regulations use the term ‘insert’ to refer to leaflets included with products. Some information can be provided on inserts rather than on containers or packages (but some cannot). Note that we also include hanging tags under the definition of an ‘insert’.

Vaping products can be sold with or without boxes. If a product has a box, then the bottle is a container and the box is a package. If there is no box then the bottle is both a container and a package.

Recycling information is permitted on the labelling, packaging or insert.

Disposable Vaping Products clarification

When notifying disposable vaping products, the product’s components should be notified separately, and the overall vaping kit should also be notified. When submitting the product notification for the vaping kit, you should apply for a fee waiver as you would have already paid the relevant fees when notifying the components separately. Section 75 of the Smokefree Environments and Regulated Products Regulations 2021 defines the terms ‘component’ and ‘product type’.

Overseas manufacturers

We have received requests from overseas manufacturers to access the Ministry’s HARP system so they can notify vaping, herbal smoking and smokeless tobacco products. NZ notifiers are responsible for notifying the products they wish to sell, and we cannot give HARP access to people based outside of New Zealand. We suggest that overseas manufacturers who sell products to NZ importers provide their customers with a CSV file containing the required information about their products in the correct format to be uploaded to the HARP system during the product notification process.

We have provided an Excel template on our website to assist with this. A CSV file in the correct format can be exported from the desktop version of Excel by selecting the sheet containing the product data and doing File, Save As, and selecting ‘CSV (Comma delimited) (*.csv)’ from the file format drop-down list. There will be a warning to say that CSV files don’t support multiple sheets but that is okay providing you were viewing the correct sheet.

If manufacturers don’t have the desktop version of Excel, then they may be able to create a suitable CSV file using another spreadsheet application. Alternatively, they can email a copy of the completed Excel template to [email protected] then we can convert it into the correct CSV format.

Products that are imported by more than one notifier will need to be notified separately so overseas manufacturers may need to provide the CSV file to each of their NZ customers.

Final note on supply chains etc. We are aware that some orders are taking a significant amount of time to arrive from overseas. Please note you only need to notify your products before they are offered for sale in New Zealand – you can purchase and import them from overseas without a current notification.

We can only provide general information about the operation of the Act. If you have questions about how the legislation applies to you and your particular circumstances, then we recommend that you seek legal advice.

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