Yachts and other recreational vessels

New Zealand has many beautiful marine environments and we need to protect them. If you wish to stay in the country for an extended time and be able to sail freely in our waters, we need to make sure your vessel is free of harmful pests and diseases. Find out about our biosecurity requirements.

Getting full biosecurity clearance

Most recreational vessels (yachts and leisure craft) will need a full biosecurity clearance. A full clearance allows you to sail freely in New Zealand waters and remain in the country for an extended time (more than 20 days).

It involves an inspection of the vessel by an MPI officer and removal – for disposal or treatment – of all risk goods including prohibited foods and garbage. If any signs of pests are found on board, they will be treated. We've created a step-by-step process to help you prepare for your biosecurity inspection.

Follow the steps

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Step 1: Plan your place of first arrival

Your first place of arrival in New Zealand must be a port or marina that has been approved to receive yachts and other recreational vessels from overseas. These are called 'places of first arrival' (POFAs). In some cases you may need to contact the POFA directly to pre-arrange your arrival.

The POFAs approved to receive all types of recreational vessels are

  • Opua Marine Park, Opua
  • Marsden Cove Marina, Whangarei
  • Viaduct Harbour Marina and Silo Park Marina, Auckland (approved for “superyachts” for pre-arranged clients only)
  • Westhaven Marina, Auckland (pre-arranged clients only)
  • Vessel Works Marine Precinct, Tauranga
  • Port Marlborough, Picton
  • Lyttelton Port of Christchurch, Lyttelton

Arriving elsewhere is only permitted if there is an emergency, or if the vessel operator has applied for and received prior approval from MPI to arrive at another location. Approval from MPI will have biosecurity conditions that you must follow.

Changes to places approved for small recreational craft

To manage biosecurity risks associated with small recreational craft, POFAs approved to receive yachts must have access to an MPI-approved transitional facility for haul out and decontamination. Because of this, the number and location of MPI-approved POFAs for small recreational craft has changed.

Step 2: Ensure you meet biofouling requirements

Make sure you meet the requirements of the Craft Risk Management Standard (CRMS) for Biofouling. Most yachts and recreational vessels arriving in New Zealand fall under the CRMS long-stay category. That is, they are staying 21 days or longer, or visiting areas not approved as ports of first arrival.

Long-stay vessels should meet the CRMS requirements by providing evidence that the entire hull, including niche areas, has been cleaned less than 30 days before arrival.

Download information for yachts on New Zealand’s border rules on hull fouling [PDF, 839 KB]

Find out about biofouling management for recreational vessels arriving to New Zealand

Step 3: Ensure you meet ballast water requirements

If your vessel has ballast water you will also need to meet requirements for ballast water management. Detailed requirements are in the import health standard (IHS) – Ballast water from all countries.

Step 4: Prepare your vessel

Your vessel should be free of ants, mosquitos, termites, vermin and other hitchhiking animals. You need to check if your vessel is a high risk for specific pests such as Asian gypsy moth.

Once inside New Zealand waters, make sure any garbage is put in bags for disposal by the inspector. An MPI officer will dispose of your rubbish when you arrive.

Step 5: Notify Customs and MPI of your arrival

Send a completed Advance notice of arrival (small craft) form to Customs at least 48 hours before you arrive. Full details of Customs requirements for yachts and small craft arriving in New Zealand are on the Customs website.

Email your completed form to Customs. It will be forwarded to MPI.

As well as sending the form, you should also radio ahead – at least 48 hours before you plan to arrive, or when your vessel is 12 nautical miles from the coastline. You can make contact by calling Maritime Radio on one of these frequencies:

  • 4125KHz
  • 6125KHz
  • VHF Ch 16.
Step 6: Wait for inspection and vessel clearance

On arrival, you will be met by an MPI quarantine officer and a Customs officer. All people and goods on board must remain on the vessel until cleared for entry into New Zealand. 

You (the vessel master) will be given biosecurity documents to complete for the vessel. In addition, each person on the vessel must complete a Passenger arrival card, which includes declaration of biosecurity risk items in their possession.

An MPI quarantine officer will review these documents:

and if relevant:

All risk items will need to be handed over to the quarantine officer to be destroyed (or treated). The officer will inspect the vessel for any undeclared risk items (such as food items listed on the declaration form) and pests, and may inspect the hull for biofouling.  After removal of risk items the vessel should be cleared to travel freely in New Zealand.

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