General quantity labelling requirements

Goods sold by weight, measure or number must have their quantity marked or labelled using one of the units of the metric system.

Labelling requirements

All packaged goods sold by quantity must comply with the following labelling/marking requirements:

  • Units of the metric system must be used, as follows:
    • Net weight: Kilograms, grams or milligrams.
    • Liquid measure: Litres, decilitres, centilitres or millilitres.
    • Measures of length: Metres, centimetres or millimetres.
  • Only one unit of weight or measure must be used.
  • Decimals must be used for part units — that is, 1.5L not 1½L.
  • The marking of net weight or measure must be:
    • in a prominent position
    • in close proximity to the name or description of the goods (if applicable)
    • clearly written or printed in letters and figures at least 2 mm in height, and in a colour that contrasts distinctly with the background.

However, if — due to the size of the goods or package — it's not possible to use letters and figures of at least 2 mm, the marking may be in smaller letters and figures. These should still be large enough to be clear and legible.


The marking must be in the form of one of the following examples:

NET 1.5 kg
1.5 kg
NET 1.5 L
1.5 L

Permitted units and abbreviations

Permitted units and their accepted abbreviations are shown below.

UnitAccepted abbreviation
Carat Metric ct
Tonne t
Kilogram kg
Gram g
Milligram mg
Litre l or L
Decilitre dl or dL
Centilitre cl or cL
Millilitre ml or mL
Metre m
Centimetre cm
Millimetre mm

Imperial units of measure

You can only use an imperial unit of weight or measure on a mark or label if:

  • it's additional to, and not given greater prominence than, the metric marking, AND
  • either:
    • the goods have been imported into New Zealand, or
    • the goods are part of a line that is intended for retail sale in NZ and other countries, and the law within that other country requires them to be marked with a non-metric unit.

Unlabelled/unmarked goods that are delivered

If goods that are not marked with a statement of quantity are delivered to a purchaser who is not on the seller’s premises, they must be accompanied by an invoice or delivery note. Goods that are weighed in front of the purchaser at the purchaser’s premises are exempted from this requirement.

The invoice or delivery note must:

  • be sent as soon as possible to the purchaser, and
  • detail the net quantity delivered, along with the seller's address, telephone number and email address.

Goods delivered loose in bulk

When goods are delivered loose in bulk, the invoice or delivery note should also include:

  • the date
  • the name and address of the customer, and
  • a description of the goods delivered.

This includes goods such as:

  • firewood
  • loose coal
  • home-heating fuel, such as example diesel or kerosene
  • garden or landscape supplies, such as compost, stones and pebbles and mulch.

See also Selling firewood by measure and Selling gardening and landscape supplies.

Unacceptable labelling/marking

It's not permitted to use the following terms in the statement of quantity:

  • 'approximately' — or to otherwise imply that the purchaser will receive an estimated quantity of goods
  • 'when packed' — the purchaser must receive the stated net quantity.

Using these terms won't give you a defence if your goods are found to be short quantity.

Other examples of unacceptable quantity statements are shown below.

Common marking faultsNon-compliant exampleCompliant example
Including a period (full stop) or the letter ‘s’ after the symbol 2kg. or 2kgs or 330mls 2kg
Using confusing or conflicting statements Net weight inclusive of packaging Net Weight
Using the incorrect case or abbreviation 200G NET.WT. Net Weight 200g

Using the term ‘approximate’ in quantity statement

Contains approximately 3kg 3kg

Using the term ‘when packed’ in a Net quantity statement

Net Weight 3kg when packed Net Weight 3kg

Using a size range

Contains between 150g - 200g Net Weight 150g