Items to Declare at New Zealand Customs

items to declare at new zealand customs

In order to travel to New Zealand, all foreign citizens who are visa-exempt for the country are first required to register for the NZ eTA visa waiver, which allows multiple entries to the country during its 2-year validity. The electronic travel authorization is available through the simple NZ eTA application online, which only takes a few minutes to complete. After receiving an approved eTA for New Zealand, you’ll be able to start planning what to bring for the trip.

However, before deciding what to pack for a holiday in New Zealand, you should first become familiar with the rules for risk items for New Zealand, especially if you are planning to bring sports equipment, food, or any animals or animal products to the country.

New Zealand has a delicately balanced ecosystem that its people work hard to protect, and for this reason, the country’s international borders have strict security procedures to prevent the arrival of harmful pest species or diseases. When arriving in New Zealand, passengers are required to declare all times considered of risk to the natural environment, and then dispose of them. Read on to find out about the procedure of declaring and disposing of risk goods in New Zealand.

What Items Can I Bring to New Zealand?

Upon arrival in New Zealand, all passengers are required to complete a Passenger Arrival Card, a New Zealand travel document which explains all of the risk items for the country and a checklist for you to cross off if you have any of the objects in your luggage. The risk items include goods like food, plants, wooden products, soil, water, outdoor equipment, and animal products.

It is necessary to complete the card even if you are arriving with an eTA NZ for transit and only passing through the country on the way to an onward destination. After completing the card, declared risk items may be inspected by customs officials. It is important to declare any risk goods on the Passenger Arrival Card, as your luggage may be searched, sniffed by dogs, or x-rayed for any prohibited items.

Travellers will be allowed to bring some declared risk items into New Zealand, if the border officer is sure that the goods pose no risk to the country and/or receive treatment to make them safe. Items are sent for treatment at an independent company, and travellers are required to collect them at a later date.
However, some items will not be allowed into New Zealand, and borders officers have the right to confiscate or destroy any property considered a risk good. Passengers are required to dispose of any risk items they do not wish to declare upon arrival in marked amnesty bins, available at all air and sea ports in the country.

What Items Do I Need to Declare at NZ Customs?

It is important to declare all items considered of risk to New Zealand on the Passenger Arrival Card. As the card is considered a legal document, travelers who are found to have made a false or incorrect declaration can face infringement fines and penalties, even if they made an accidental mistake.

Those who fail to declare any potential risk goods for New Zealand may instantly receive a fine of NZD$400, and those suspected of intentionally smuggling risk items could face a fine of up to NZD$100,000, as well as up to 5 years in prison or deportation from the country.

As well as biosecurity risk items, restricted goods for New Zealand also include products from endangered animal or plant species. Some goods are not always considered a risk, as risk factors often depend on where the item comes from, the kind of packaging, or certain ingredients in the item.

Risk Goods to Declare in New Zealand

The full list of goods considered a potential risk to New Zealand, as marked on the Passenger Arrival Card, is as follows:

  • Animals or animal products – This includes eggs, meat and dairy products, fish and seafood, honey and other bee products, feathers, raw wool, and insects. Novelty items, souvenirs, or ornaments of an animal-based origin will also need to be inspected. These may be seized under endangered species restrictions unless the traveller first obtains a permit to bring them into the country. Travellers are also required to obtain prior permission to bring live animals into New Zealand.
  • Food – This can include cooked, uncooked, fresh, preserved, packaged or dried fruit and vegetables, mushrooms and fungi, grains and pulses, and seeds for human consumption. It is important to declare even the smallest amounts.
  • Plants or plant products – Some plant items may need treatment or an import permit, and so it is important to declare any plant material you may have. This can include flowers, seeds, bulbs, wood, bark, leaves, and fungi, including for religious or medicinal practices.
  • Equipment used for outdoor activities or farming – This can include any equipment such as footwear, tents, hunting or hiking gear used outdoors, which may contain unseen contaminants that pose a threat to New Zealand wildlife. All outdoor equipment should be easy to reach in your luggage so it can be inspected on arrival.
  • Equipment used with animals, plants or fresh or salt water – This can include tools used for gardening, beekeeping, fishing, or water sports. It can also include any item which has come into contact with animals, such as horse riding equipment, vet supplies, or clothes used for sheep shearing.
  • Any other goods that pose a biosecurity risk – Animal and herbal medicines, biological cultures and organisms, and soil or water from another country can also all threaten New Zealand’s environment and should be declared upon arrival.