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Importers and Customs

The New Zealand Customs Service protects and promotes New Zealand by protecting our borders. Customs works closely with other agencies to make sure what is coming into our country is safe and will not compromise either our security or our livelihoods.

The New Zealand Customs Service investigates illegal activity, collects revenue, and prosecutes where necessary.

Preparing to import

All commercial goods being imported into New Zealand must be cleared through Customs. Commercial goods are considered any goods intended for use in your business, or for resale.

All goods brought into New Zealand for business or commercial uses need to be cleared by submitting an import entry clearance or Electronic Cargo Information (ECI) form. In most cases, clearance is undertaken by a customs broker or freight forwarder on your behalf (although you can do this yourself if you choose to).

The process of Customs clearance means goods will be subject to security screenings and the payment of import duties, goods and services tax (GST) for certain items, or other applicable charges. Goods from certain countries have lower duty rates than those from others.

There are strict rules surround the importation of any animals into New Zealand, including those for breeding and commercial purposes.

The following resources explain how the import process works, what you will need, and where you can find additional information:

Accompanying imported goods

Business owners often bring in commercial goods, such as one-off imports or product samples, as accompanied luggage on a flight into New Zealand. 

These goods are still classed as imported goods, and are treated the same as goods brought in by other means. You will need to complete an import entry clearance either before or after you land in New Zealand. Your goods will also be subject to duty, GST, and any other applicable fees and charges.

At the very least, you’ll need to declare the goods on your arrival card and make Customs aware that you are carrying imported commercial goods. Make sure you know what documents will be needed.

Sometimes you may be bringing in goods that you intend to take out at a later date. These are known as temporary imports and different rules apply.

Lodge your import entry (external link) — Customs

Import charges and concessions

If you’re importing goods commercially, you’ll need to be aware that they are subject to duty, GST, and possibly other charges.

In some cases, preferential tariffs will apply. This means the duties on items from some countries are lower.

If you submit your own import clearances, you’ll need to know how to calculate your fees and charges correctly. If, on the other hand, you use the services of a customs broker, agent or freight forwarder, they will be well equipped to work out your charges for you.

There are various ways to pay duties you owe, and if you end up paying too much, you should be able to apply for a refund without too much trouble.

Exempt-entry goods

Some goods are exempt from having to lodge an import entry or export entry – they’re known as exempt-entry goods. Instead, you need to lodge an electronic cargo entry (ECI) to give Customs a summary of the item being imported or exported.

Exempt-entry goods:

  • Bona fide gifts to residents outside New Zealand.
  • Trade samples supplied free of charge to residents outside New Zealand.
  • Passengers’ baggage and effects (except goods sold from a licensed export warehouse or under drawback). This exemption does not apply to motor vehicles or boats.
  • Goods exported by diplomatic missions.
  • Films and video tapes exported for use overseas and returned to New Zealand.
  • Ships and aircraft leaving New Zealand under their own power other than those departing for sale overseas.
  • Goods sent by parcel post for repair and return.
  • Commercial documents and newspapers.
  • Goods normally used for commercial or business purposes, carried by passengers leaving New Zealand, that are to be returned to New Zealand, eg laptop computers (including palmtops and notebooks).
  • Shipments having a FOB value under $1,000 and not sold from a licensed export warehouse or under drawback.

If you’re exporting a business or commercial item on this list that’s likely to be returned to New Zealand, you should declare it by lodging an export entry rather than an ECI to help processing on its return. Exempt-entry goods can still be affected by prohibition.

Lodge your import entry (external link) — Customs

Prohibited and restricted imports (external link) — Customs

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