Importer/Exporter Kaiwhiwhi Rawa i Tāwāhi/Kaituku Rawa Ki Tāwāhi

Importers/exporters plan, organise, direct and co-ordinate the operations of an importing or exporting business.

Registration is not required for importers/exporters. However, they can become members of Export New Zealand, which provides access to advice and information on exporting.

Importers/exporters may do some or all of the following:

  • identify local and overseas business opportunities
  • gather information on products and work out the cost of supplying them
  • work with local and overseas suppliers and distributors of goods
  • arrange the shipping of goods into and out of the country
  • negotiate customs, shipping and air freight of goods
  • develop promotional and marketing campaigns for products
  • keep up to date with exchange and financial market rates
  • communicate with government agencies such as Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT) and Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI).

Useful Experience

Useful experience for importers/exporters includes work in:

  • overseas trading or exporting
  • manufacturing
  • shipping
  • marketing
  • a management position.

Overseas travel and experience of different cultures is also useful.

Personal Qualities

Importers/exporters need to be:

  • able to make good judgements
  • quick-thinking and able to work well under pressure
  • good at written and oral communication
  • good at time management
  • able to work well alone and as part of a team
  • able to relate to people from a range of cultures and backgrounds.


Importers/exporters need to have knowledge of:

  • the goods they are selling
  • customs legislation and export procedures
  • international banking methods
  • how to negotiate with clients
  • budgeting, business and marketing skills.

Being able to speak other languages can be an advantage.



  • usually work regular business hours, but may have to communicate with people in different time zones at other times
  • work in offices, but may spend time in warehouses and factories
  • often travel overseas to source products, attend conferences and visit markets and trade fairs.

Importer/Exporters can earn around $47K-$75K per year.

Pay for importers/exporters varies depending on qualifications, experience, employer and the exact role they perform. 

  • Entry-level importers/exporters usually start on minimum wage
  • Mid-level importers/exporters usually earn $50,000 a year.
  • Senior importers/exporters may earn up to $75,000.
  • Importers/exporters who run their own companies can earn more than this.

Source: Trade Me Jobs, 'Salary Guide', 2018.

Importers/exporters may move into managerial or consultant positions in the industry, or run their own business.

They may specialise in areas such as:

  • dairy
  • wool
  • textiles
  • machinery
  • electronics.

They may also specialise in roles such as:

Export Agent
Export agents help companies to sell their products to an overseas market (where the export agent is usually based). They are usually paid a sales commission.
Import Agent
Import agents calculate exchange rates and order foreign products. They ensure the legality of importing and selling products.

Years Of Training

There are no specific requirements to become an importer/exporter.

However, employers often prefer you to have a tertiary qualification, such as a diploma or degree, in shipping and logistics, commerce, or business management majoring in international business.