How to declare items when arriving in NZ
New Zealand has very strict biosecurity procedures at our international borders to prevent the introduction of harmful pests and diseases. All risk goods must be declared or be disposed of in marked amnesty bins at air and sea ports. If you're unsure – declare.
COVID-19 advice for travellers
People who are travelling or who recently entered New Zealand should check the Ministry of Health website for up-to-date advice on COVID-19.
Declare or dispose: What you need to know
To make sure your arrival in New Zealand goes smoothly you'll need to know about:
- Passenger Arrival Cards – these are usually given to you to complete by your crew on your way to New Zealand. The cards tell you what we consider are 'risk goods'
- declaring all risk items on your card – goods like food, plants, wooden products, soil, water, outdoor equipment, and animal products. Declared risk goods may then be inspected
- disposing of undeclared risk goods in marked amnesty bins on your arrival
- prohibited and restricted items like products from endangered animal or plant species
- infringement fees, fines and penalties for not declaring risk items on your Passenger Arrival Card.
Included on this page:
Watch our inflight biosecurity video. It reminds all international visitors about the importance of protecting Aotearoa from unwanted pests and diseases.
Video – Welcome to Aotearoa (1:23)
Welcome to Aotearoa.
Our lakes, rivers, lands and seas.
This fragile place is all we’ve got.
It’s vulnerable to pests and diseases.
That’s why we guard it, as if our way of life depends on it… Because it does. But we need your help.
Fruits, vegetables and eggs like these can’t be brought into New Zealand.
Nor can most meats, honey, cooking ingredients, herbs, and seeds or spices…
Anything made of plants or wood can carry unwanted pests or diseases that could destroy our natural environment.
Put any items you aren’t sure about in the airport amnesty bins.
Used outdoor equipment is a problem too.
If in doubt, declare it for inspection, on the arrival card.
Or ask a biosecurity officer like me.
Because once you arrive, your bags may be x-rayed and inspected.
And if you haven’t declared, you’ll be fined $400.
As a visitor here, I’ll be asking one thing of you:
Look after it. Protect it.
Declare or dispose risk items.
Avoid a $400 fine.
You must declare risk goods
When you arrive in New Zealand, you'll have to complete a Passenger Arrival Card and declare any biosecurity risk items. The Customs website has an example of the card.
Note, the Passenger Arrival Card is a legal document. If you make a false or incorrect declaration – even by accident – you are breaking the law and you can be fined or put in prison.
It's not possible for us to list all the goods considered a risk. This is because an item's risk isn't always the same. It depends on things like the country it comes from, its ingredients, or packaging.
As part of the declaration process, an officer is likely to ask you questions to clearly establish what you are carrying. The answers you give in this interview are part of your declaration. If you give incomplete answers about your risk goods, you can still be fined or prosecuted if any are found during an inspection – even if you declared them on the Passenger Arrival Card.
Use our tool to help you find out
We've got a tool to help you quickly get an answer about whether your food or other item is allowed into New Zealand. We don't have everything listed in the tool but it covers the food and other items we most frequently get asked about. The tool will also tell you whether there are any weight or quantity restrictions.
Information in Chinese
Your Passenger Arrival Card lists the kinds of items considered a potential risk to New Zealand:
- Any food – cooked, uncooked, fresh, preserved, packaged or dried.
- Animals or animal products – including meat, dairy products, fish, honey, bee products, eggs, feathers, shells, raw wool, skins, bones or insects.
- Plants or plant products – fruit, flowers, seeds, bulbs, wood, bark, leaves, nuts, vegetables, parts of plants, fungi, cane, bamboo or straw, including for religious offerings or medicinal use.
- Other biosecurity risk items –including animal medicines, herbal medicines, biological cultures, organisms, soil or water.
- Equipment used with animals, plants or water – including for gardening, beekeeping, fishing, water sport or diving activities.
- Items that have been used for outdoor or farming activities – including any footwear, tents, camping, hunting, hiking, golf or sports equipment.
- on arrival in New Zealand, your bags may be sniffed by detector dogs, x-rayed or searched.
- detailed information about the requirements for bringing goods to New Zealand is in documents called import health standards.
What happens when you declare risk items?
Some of the risk items you declare may be allowed into the country:
- if a quarantine officer at the border is satisfied your items pose no risk
- after treatment of the risk items.
However, some items may not be allowed into the country under any circumstances and may be confiscated or destroyed.
Items that require treatment are sent to private independent treatment companies. You can collect items sent for treatment at a later date.
All food items brought into New Zealand, even the smallest amounts and ingredients for cooking, need to be declared. Food items include:
- fresh fruit and vegetables
- dairy products
- dried mushrooms and fungi
- honey and honey products
- seeds for human consumption and for processing into food
- nuts, spices, herbs, and un-popped popcorn
- dried, cooked, or preserved fruit and vegetables
- grains and pulses
- pickles (including pickled meat and fish).
If you're importing large quantities of food items for commercial use, you'll need to follow the rules and regulations for importing those products.
All animal products brought into New Zealand need to be inspected and may need treatment or permits. Some items will not be allowed into New Zealand.
Animal products include:
- Chinese or Asian medicine
- honey and honey products, including cosmetics, health supplements and medicines
- shells and clams
- turtle shell items
- products made from snakeskin or whalebone.
Novelty items, souvenirs, and ornaments should be declared if they have any parts made from:
- animal fibres or feathers
- animals hides and skins.
Biological products of animal origin, microorganisms, and cell cultures
These products must be declared. They can contain animal dung and plant materials that may carry pests and diseases. If you are carrying any of these types of items, make sure you declare them or you can be fined.
All plant material must be declared. Items may need treatment or an import permit, and some products are prohibited. Examples of plants and plant products that must be declared include:
- dried and fresh flowers
- plant cuttings
- items made of bamboo, cane, rattan, coconut, straw
- items made of wood, for example, drums, carvings, masks, weapons, or tools
- pine cones
- any souvenirs made from plant material – for example, corn and straw, including items stuffed with seeds and straw,
- herbal medicines, health supplements, and homeopathic remedies
- cosmetics made from plants
- religious offerings.
If you bring wood products, fruit, vegetables, other plant products, micro-organisms or laboratory specimens into New Zealand, you must comply with the requirements for importing those items.
For more information refer to the steps to importing:
Used equipment, like sporting and recreational equipment, must be declared on your passenger arrival card.
This type of equipment can transfer soil and plant material from other countries into New Zealand that may carry pests, diseases, and seeds – all of which can pose a threat to our environment and wildlife. Some contaminants such as viruses, bacteria and fungi are not visible and may be present on used equipment that appears clean to the naked eye.
Equipment might be inspected on arrival so it should be easy to reach in your luggage.
If you are unsure about whether or not your equipment needs inspecting – declare it.
Used equipment includes:
- all hiking and sporting footwear, including gaiters for tramping – or any footwear used outside of urban areas – which should be cleaned prior to arrival and be free of soil and seeds
- tents and any camping equipment
- all camping foods
- hunting gear, including clothing and backpacks
- any equipment used with animals such as:
- farm footwear
- vet supplies
- horse riding equipment, saddles, and bridle gear
- animal shearing equipment, including clothing used while shearing animals
- gardening equipment
- all equipment – like clothing, footwear and tools – used for work in industries such as horticulture, viticulture (wine production), apiculture (beekeeping), aquaculture (fish farming), and forestry.
- fishing and water activity equipment including but not limited to:
- diving equipment and wetsuits
- waders, fishing rods, lines, hooks, flies.
- MPI recommends you leave your felt-soled waders at home. Entry requirements are strict for this type of footwear. Plus you're not allowed to use felt-soled waders when fishing in freshwater (this is a Fish and Game Council prohibition). Felt-soled waders are likely to be seized at the border and directed for destruction, treatment, or reshipment.
- Fishing flies are permitted entry but all non-artificial material for fly-tying must meet the conditions in the Import Health Standard for fibres.
Find out more
- Bringing and using fishing equipment in New Zealand – Fish and Game Council
- Importing fibres and feathers
- The Import Health Standard for fibres [PDF, 194 KB]
Freshwater fishing gear must be clean and dry
If you're bringing used freshwater fishing equipment into New Zealand, it must be clean and dry.
If MPI officers suspect your equipment isn't completely dry (even if you cleaned it before coming), you'll have to either:
- wait at the airport until your equipment is treated at your expense (this could take several hours)
- arrange for collection of your equipment from a treatment facility at your expense
- reship the equipment at your expense
- authorise MPI to destroy the equipment.
How you can help protect our environment
Refer to 'Check, Clean, Dry' information for instructions on cleaning sporting and camping equipment before coming to New Zealand.
Once in New Zealand – you can continue to protect our environment and wildlife by:
- cleaning, checking, and drying your equipment when you move from location to location. This can help stop pests, like didymo, spreading between our rivers.
- cleaning equipment and sticking to tracks to slow the spread of the disease that is killing our giant Kauri trees.
Find out more
There are other items imported into New Zealand that could introduce pests, diseases, or unwanted organisms. These items must comply with a relevant import health standard.
Non-biological items include:
- containers and cargo
- vehicles and machinery.
For more information read about:
When you enter New Zealand, you'll need to declare all salt and freshwater products and equipment. This includes:
- sea shells
- any fish and shellfish
- seaweed, algae, aquarium plants, and seeds
- diving, swimming, and fishing equipment, including non-artificial material for fly-tying.
Live animals can be carriers of pests and diseases and you'll need the correct documentation when bringing them into New Zealand. Find out about:
Many endangered species are needlessly destroyed to make souvenirs for travellers. By supporting the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) agreement and deciding not to buy goods made from endangered species, you can help save these rare plants and animals from extinction.
New Zealand is party to the CITES agreement. It covers items like:
- clam shells
- Chinese medicines
- products made from crocodile or alligator (such as jerky and souvenirs)
- products made from snakeskin
- products made from whalebone
- turtle shell artefacts
CITES items not allowed into NZ without a special permit
Any plant, animal, or product covered by the CITES agreement is not allowed into New Zealand, unless it is accompanied by a CITES permit(s). If you try to bring in items under the CITES agreement without appropriate permits, they'll be seized.
Find out more about endangered species and permitting requirements by visiting the:
Inspecting and assessing your risk items
MPI quarantine officers will make a risk assessment of your declared items by asking you more questions or through a visual inspection. Sometimes they will need to refer to legal documents called import health standards. In general, if there is not an import health standard (IHS) for your item, it can't be brought into the country. (Import health standards are not generally for specific items but are more generic. For example, there is not an import health standard for milk but milk is covered in the IHS Specified foods for human consumption containing animal products as a "dairy product").
For items that are covered by an IHS, the standard gives information including:
- packaging requirements
- countries the item can come in from
- any paperwork required with the item
- any treatments the item may require prior to coming to New Zealand or on arrival.
Note that import health standards can change without notice. For example, if there was a disease outbreak overseas.
People failing to declare biosecurity risk goods – even by accident – may be instantly fined an NZD$400 infringement fee. Anyone caught smuggling a prohibited or risk item could:
- be fined up to NZD$100,000
- face up to 5 years in prison
- be deported.
Make sure you declare or dispose any risk goods. If in doubt, ask a quarantine officer when you arrive at the airport.
Find out more
Who to contact
If you have questions about what to declare, email email@example.com