Standards and regulations in other countries

Overseas countries have specific regulations and standards for products and services offered for sale in that country.

While developing your business plan you will need to take into account the time and cost involved in complying with these. 

In some instances, these factors will influence your decision about whether or not to export to a given country. Researching these issues well in advance will help you avoid costly mistakes.

Standards and regulations will vary between countries and also between different types of products or services. Although your product or service may comply with all the regulations and standards applicable in one country, never assume this will be the case elsewhere.

Researching compliance requirements

The best way to start researching rules and regulations in other countries is by contacting relevant Customs bodies or looking at their websites. Often, you will find information on compliance requirements surrounding imported products. This will most likely cover Customs procedures, information on duty rates and possibly Customs tariff schedules.

Look up Customs agencies around the world on the World Customs Organizations' website.

Visit the World Trade Organisation's Tariff Download Facility.

Local regulations

Local regulations may affect what you are able to sell and how you do your business in an overseas country. For example, some countries have strict environmental regulations regarding the amount and type of packaging used for products. Other regulations commonly address issues ranging from safety, labelling, composition and ingredients, through to conduct of business, licenses, permits and consumer guarantees and protection.

Always check with local advisers, or with your agent or distributor. Send a sample product over in advance so they can inspect it and identify any local rules it may not comply with.

Identify relevant local regulatory bodies and look on their websites or contact them for information on how you can get your product to comply.


Standards are agreed specifications for products, processes, services, or performance. Meeting international standards can be costly as you may have to change the design of your product or service to comply. This may mean investing in new manufacturing processes as well the testing and certification to prove you comply with the required standards.

Standards can vary greatly around the world, for example California has very high standards for emission levels in vehicles. Generally countries with a high per-capita income have higher standards requirements than countries with a lower per-capita income.

If you wish to request copies of overseas standards for your industry you can ask Standards New Zealand whether they sell the relevant standards and, if so, in what format these are available.

Health and safety

Health and safety is key to many standards. For example if you are exporting children’s toys the overseas country will want to ensure you are using any safe products in their manufacture.

Find out more about managing risks associated with manufactured products

Local bureaucracy

Bureaucracy can be very complex in some countries, existing at multiple levels – national, regional and municipal. Local professional advice can be costly but highly useful when dealing with red tape in a specific country, region or city.

Back to top