Items to declare

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.

What you need to know 

To make sure your arrival in New Zealand goes smoothly you'll need to know about:  

  • Passenger Arrival Cardsthese 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:

Declare or dispose

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 country.

Our lakes, rivers, lands and seas.

Our home.

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.

[end transcript]


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.

WHAT FOOD AND OTHER ITEMS CAN YOU BRING?

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.

Types of risk goods

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.

Note that:

  • 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.

Find out more about risk items

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.

Failing to declare

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 info@mpi.govt.nz

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