What You Need to Know About Relocate to NewZealand

First things first. New Zealand is very strict about what is allowed inside the country. Whether you are bringing your belongings via ship or plane, you will need to make a very detailed list of the items and their value to be allowed to go through customs. If you are planning on bringing pets then you’ve got your work cut out for you. There is a list of approved countries from which pets may be imported. If your country is part of the list, prepare to provide detailed documentation on your four-legged friends. Keep in mind that the country does not allow mixed breeds or hybrids entry. Your cat or dog has to be pure-bred, and even then, certain breeds will still be prohibited. If your country is not on the list, then you may have to find other ways to bring them in or leave them behind.


A country’s strict customs rules is the first obstacle any expat must surpass. There are many things that you cannot bring to New Zealand. This holds especially true to bringing live animals in the country.

Your belongings will undergo a thorough inspection at customs and you run the risk of some of them being confiscated, or worse, destroyed. Luckily, we have prepared a list of the items you can and cannot bring.

Relocating to New Zealand can be a challenge, especially its customs regulations. Why not make your move easier and let us worry about the tiny details? We have years of experience and have an experienced relocation team ready to assist you in every step. Get in touch with us and we would be glad to help!

Whether you plan on bringing your belongings by air or sea, all must go through strict inspection to identify any “risk” goods that you might have. You will need to declare all of your items and provide the necessary documentation to the Ministry of Primary Industries (MPI).

You will need to fill a passenger arrival card, which declares all the goods that you are bringing over. You must also declare all risk items, which will be inspected upon arrival.

There are many items that are prohibited to import to New Zealand. Some items require special permits. Strict control means your items may be cleaned, quarantined, and if found hazardous, destroyed.

What is an Arrival Card?

An arrival card is an individual form to be submitted by all non-citizens, including children. It should be handed to you by the crew of your ship or plane for you to fill out during your trip to New Zealand. All the details of your travel should be provided, such as:

– Purpose of travel
– Duration of your stay
– Goods that you are bringing in to the country other than personal items (Failure to list any goods may result in a fine or prosecution).

The following are strictly prohibited from entering New Zealand:

– Objectionable content on items like videotapes, films, records, CD-ROMs, or publications
– Drug paraphernalia or equipment for the use of cannabis or methamphetamine
– Weapons which are disguised as something else:
– flick knives, butterfly knives, swordsticks, or knuckle-dusters
– pepper spray (considered a weapon in New Zealand)
– things that can be used to commit a crime


Certain items are not forbidden, but its entry in the country is restricted. You will need to provide a permit for these items, and in some cases an appropriate treatment, like fumigation. These are:
– ivory in whatever form (including jewelry, and carvings)
– tortoise or sea turtle shell jewelry, and ornaments
– meat or food derived from whales, dolphins, rare crane and pheasants, and sea turtles
– medicines containing musk and rhinoceros or tiger derivatives, such as ground horn or bone
– carvings or other things made from whalebone or bone from other marine mammals
– cat skins
– taxidermy of sea turtles, all big cats, rare reptiles, cranes, pheasants, bears, antelope, and deer
– live species, including pet eagles, hawks, owls and parrots, many cacti, orchids, cycads, and cyclamens
– carnivorous plants

For risk items, they must all be declared on your passenger arrival card, otherwise you may be fined or prosecuted. These include:
– Food (fruits and vegetables, meat, other foodstuffs)
– Plants or seeds
– Wooden items
– Animals or animal products
– Traditional or herbal medicines
– Any shoes, sports or outdoor equipment that have been previously used.

Over the counter medicines need not be declared, but all prescription medications need to be. You should have:
– The prescription, or a letter from your doctor stating that you are being treated with the medication
– The medicine in its original packaging with your name on the label, strength, and dosage details
– No more than 3 month’s supply (or 6 months for oral contraceptives)
– Any amount over 10,000 NZD (6,206 USD) or its equivalent in foreign currencies, must likewise be declared. Goods (excluding your clothes and jewelry) worth more than 700 NZD (434 USD) need to be declared and duty fees must be paid.

Moving with Pets

You’ve got your work cut out for you if you are planning on bringing your pets. There is a list of approved countries from which pets may be imported. If your country is a part of the list, prepare to provide detailed documentation on your four-legged friends. Keep in mind that the country does not grant mixed breeds or hybrids entry. Your cat or dog has to be pure-bred, and even then, certain breeds will still be prohibited. Unfortunately, you cannot take them with you if your country is not on the list. In such cases, you have two options:
– You can temporarily move your pet to an approved country on the list, where it will have to stay for six months and meet the necessary requirements for a veterinary certificate of that country.
– You can file a petition to include your country on the list of approved countries. However, this process involves some bureaucracy on the part of both governments.

Aside from cats and dogs, the only other three species of animals that are allowed to enter New Zealand are:
– chinchillas from Great Britain
– rabbits from Australia
– guinea pigs from Australia

Which pets can you not bring to New Zealand?
Certain dog breeds are banned entry into the country at all times:
– Brazilian Fila
– Dogo Argentino
– Japanese Tosa
– Perro de Presa Canario
– American Pit Bull Terrier
– All mixed breeds are also prohibited, with the exception of Bengal cats, for which you will need to provide a pedigree certificate which proves five generations of ancestry.

What are the Requirements to Import Pets into New Zealand?
All the requirements to import pets into the country are set by the Import Health Standard (IHS). Here is an overview of the general rules:
– All pets have to be inspected upon arrival in New Zealand, regardless of country of origin.
– All pets must have a microchip that meets the ISO standards.
– Every time your pet is examined, vaccinated, or receives treatment, the microchip needs to be scanned and recorded.
– You will also need a permit and a minimum of 10 days quarantine for your pet (unless you are moving from Australia or Norfolk Island)

What are the Customs Allowances in New Zealand?

Anyone over 17 years of age is allowed to bring alcohol and tobacco. There is a cap to the quantity that is duty-free and anything above that must paid for in duties, as long as it is for personal use only.

The duty-free allowance on alcohol is:
– 5 liters of wine or beer
– 3 bottles of spirits or liqueur for up to 1.125 liters per bottle (anything over 3 bottles will be charged accordingly, even if it is under the stipulated amount)

Tobacco is duty-free, as long as it doesn’t exceed the cap:
– Up to 50 cigarettes
– Up to 50 grams of tobacco products
– Up to 50 grams of cigars, or
– a mix of all 3, as long as it doesn’t exceed 50 grams

For your goods to be granted passage into the country, you will need to provide the following documents:
– The completed NZCS 218: Unaccompanied Personal Baggage Declaration form
– Your passport and proof that you are allowed residency in the country
– A full inventory of the items you are bringing into the country
If you are bringing any risk items, a Personal Effects Supplementary Declaration

Additional permits you may be required for your items, such as:
– Permit to import firearms (NZ Police)
– The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) permit (Department of Conservation)
– Medicines and Medical Devices Safety Authority permit (Ministry of Health)
– The shipping arrival papers, such as Bill of Lading, Airway Bill, or Arrival Advice.

You will need to email these documents to the nearest customs office. After which you will receive clearance from the MPI.
If any of your declared items are prohibited in New Zealand, these may either be:
– inspected and then returned to you
– re-shipped
– destroyed at a designated facility
– treated at a designated facility. In such cases, you will need to make arrangements to pick up these items.

Fees, fines, and charges may apply, so make sure you follow all the requirements to avoid losing your belongings.

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