New Zealand Import Laws

There are strict regulations on importing goods to New Zealand.

In 1996, New Zealand passed legislation which changed the laws relating to importing goods into the country.

Separate categorizations are attributed to different types of goods that are imported and this has an impact on the legality of those imports. For example, there is a difference between private and commercial importing of goods.

Furthermore, the 1996 Customs and Excise Act also listed items prohibited from being imported into New Zealand.

Private Importers

When importing goods for private use, you must first have your items cleared by New Zealand customs. To do this, you are required to provide customs with all necessary permits, evidence of your identity, shipping documentation and evidence of costs incurred.

The values of imported goods are established using the New Zealand customs’ rate of currency exchange. Often there are charges incurred at around 12.5 percent of the value of the item(s) on importing goods.

Temporary Private Imports, Gifts and Heirlooms

Temporary imports are non-consumable items which will leave the country within 12 months. You must gain a special permit for these and often can be required to place a deposit against the item.

Gifts are free of customs’ charges if they were purchased for less than NZ$110, but liable for charging if more expensive than that. Gifts must also be associated with a special occasion, such as a birthday or anniversary and must also have been unsolicited by the New Zealand resident.

In the case of heirlooms, importers must be able to prove that they are the legal recipient of the item. Customs charges will not be levied if the importer satisfies this criterion.

Commercial Importers

For commercial importing, there is a complex and detailed set of restrictions on movement of goods. The first step is to lodge a clearance with the New Zealand customs service including all relevant forms and details. This clearance can be sought online, but requires registration and is often only used by regular importers of goods into New Zealand.

Temporary imports work the same in commercial goods movement as in private, and is subject to the same restrictions.

Valuations are placed on imported goods based on the item’s original purchase price. The valuation submitted by a commercial importer is subject to inspection by the customs service and values are worked out by customs’ exchange rates in the same way as private imports.

Commerical Imports from Australia

There is a trade agreement in place between New Zealand and Australia relating to commercial importing and exporting. This occurred due to the close geographical proximity between the two nations and the strong relationship between them. This trade agreement means there are generous tariff exemptions when importing goods from Australia, making importing and exporting cheaper.

Prohibited Imports

There is an extensive list of items not allowed into New Zealand. Among these, many are also banned from import into many other countries around the world such as illegal drugs and related paraphernalia, firearms and other weapons, dangerous substances and chemicals (such as asbestos or radioactive material), particular knives and assorted other items.

For a full and comprehensive list, visit

Domestic Animal Imports

Importation of domesticated animals has its own set of specialized restrictions and is not only governed by the New Zealand customs service but also by the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry/Biosecurity of New Zealand.

Customs require an extensive list of documentation relating to your ownership of the animal, details of your payment transaction for the animal, vaccination certificates and other related health documents.

Furthermore, you are also required to sign a declaration when importing dogs into the country under the Dog Control Act 1996.