Cruise ships & passengers

Cruise ships have to comply with the same arrival rules and procedures as all commercial vessels. Find out what extra requirements they may have to meet.


Inspections and vessel clearance

MPI inspectors will need to meet a ship's chief purser or representative to plan the clearance of passengers, crew and vessel to enter New Zealand.

List of documents required

These documents should be sent to MPI at the first port of arrival in New Zealand 48 hours before arrival:

  • Master's Declaration – for declaring meat provisions and animals, an appended list is acceptable
  • biofouling and ballast water report form
  • a list of fresh produce and any documented quality systems used for fresh produce
  • voyage memo for the past 2 years
  • a list of goods to be landed in New Zealand
  • permits for any animals on board. The permits must be granted well in advance of arrival.

Find out more

Inspections and passenger and crew clearance

MPI inspectors will meet with the captain or a representative, review documentation, and inspect the ship for biosecurity risks.

  • Full passenger and crew lists must be supplied.
  • Any passengers or crew getting off the vessel must complete a Passenger Arrival Card.
  • Inspectors will carry out clearance procedures for any crew or passengers (and their baggage and personal items) leaving the ship, and examine risk items.

Announcement to passengers

Cruise ships must broadcast this announcement:

New Zealand biosecurity regulations prohibit the removal of ships stores from the vessel.

Items that cannot be taken off the vessel include:

  • fresh fruit and vegetables
  • meat of any kind
  • prepared meals (including sandwiches)
  • dairy products
  • any other food items
  • flowers, seeds, or plants.

Only commercially-bottled drinking water is permitted to leave the vessel without permission of the MPI quarantine inspector.

Passengers and crew may be asked to present their hand luggage, including backpacks for inspection to the MPI inspectors stationed at the gangway.

The message should be broadcast over the ship's public address system – including the crew's accommodation area – before passengers and crew go ashore and at regular intervals during the disembarkation process.

If passengers and crew are from non-English speaking countries the clearance message should be broadcast in the appropriate language as well as English. 

New Zealand's strict rules about not taking food and other risk items ashore can also be promoted to passengers using videos and newsletters. This will help gangway inspections to run smoothly and ensure excursions are not delayed.

Not arriving at a Place of First Arrival?

For cruise ships arrivals at Opua, Milford Sound or other places not designated as Places of First Arrival (POFA) application must be made well ahead of the start of the cruise season. The form you need is New Zealand Customs Service form 362.

Conditions and arrangements will apply

Approval depends on the ability of the MPI to:

  • arrange biosecurity surveillance of vessels and disembarkations in these areas
  • ensure the protection of values in areas of protected status.

Conditions are likely to be attached to the approval such as:

  • restrictions on the number of passengers allowed to disembark
  • assurance or certification of freedom from pests and hull cleanliness
  • ensuring pest-and-disease-free meat and fresh produce.

Also special arrangements need to be put in place for MPI's biosecurity risk management to be done at the arrival location, as an alternative to normal processes that take place at a POFA (extra costs may apply).

Milford Sound and Bay of Islands arrival conditions

Conditions for vessels arriving at Milford Sound or the Bay of Islands are:

  • Where passengers or crew are landing, specific conditions may apply.
  • An MPI inspector must be present – notification 48 hours prior to landing passengers or crew is required, and arrangements made for the inspector to board the vessel, if not already on board.
  • Any changes to the intended itinerary or arrival time are to be reported to MPI immediately.
  • No garbage shall be landed or waste disposed of overboard including ground-up food through the galley chute while in internal waters. Garbage must be contained so that no animals, birds and insects can access food and other waste.
  • No foodstuffs can be removed from the vessel by the crew, passengers, or visitors.
  • Ballast or grey water is not to be discharged in internal waters and any boats launched from the craft to take passengers ashore must be clean and free of any hull fouling.
  • All costs incurred by MPI relating to quarantine clearance at a place not designated as a port may be recovered from the ship's agent.

Other information for cruise ships

New Zealand Customs has other requirements to meet.

Who to contact

If you have questions about the information on this page, email vessels@mpi.govt.nz.

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