Sending goods to New Zealand

Importers and new immigrants can send cargo to New Zealand by air or sea freight. However, it is possible for pests, weed seeds, and other unwanted organisms to hitch-hike undetected with these goods, either on or in the shipping container, or in the goods themselves. As such MPI has a number of regulations that ensure the cleanliness of cargo arriving in New Zealand.

Sending goods by sea

Full sea containers of imported goods and personal effects require a sea container declaration Link to PDF document (11 KB) This declaration attests to the cleanliness of the sea container and whether or not it is carrying wood packaging, which can harbor wood-boring insects or fungi. The container must be inspected internally and externally to ensure it is clean (free of dirt, grass, insects, seed, etc). The declaration should then be completed and signed by a manager of the packing or exporting facility and it must be presented to the MPI Clearance Service. If containers arrive in New Zealand with contamination this can result in delays, and the container may have to be cleaned and re-inspected before it can be delivered to the final destination.

A sea container quarantine declaration is not required from importers who have shipped their goods as partial container loads (Less than Container Load - LCL, or Freight of All Kinds - FAK). More information on quarantine declarations.

Getting your container to a Transitional Facility

On arrival in New Zealand sea containers will be directed to a transitional facility. A biosecurity direction must be given before the container can be taken to the transitional facility. This will be arranged by a customs broker or freight forwarder or an importer. For more information see Containers and Cargo section.

Shipping personal effects

If you are moving to New Zealand this brochure contains information on what you need to do. Moving to New Zealand: what you need to know Link to PDF document (621 KB).

Shipments of personal belongings should be accompanied by a detailed inventory listing all items in the consignment. This helps MPI to assess the risk status of the container. A good tip is to number boxes or packages and make a list of the items inside. Any contents that are classified as restricted items must be declared.

A copy of the unauthorised opening of unaccompanied personal effects form Link to PDF document (87 KB) must be completed for personal effects intended to be cleared at a private residence. This document is signed by the importer or agent to declare that the personal effect will not be opened without MPI permission. Personal belongings arriving via sea require an Unaccompanied Personal Baggage Declaration (NZCS 218) (offsite link to www.customs.govt.nz). Any treatment certificates, such as for fumigation, heat treatment or cleaning, must also be supplied.

A Personal Effects Supplementary Declaration Link to PDF document (126 KB) should also be completed for consignments containing items that might pose a biosecurity risk. This declaration provides more detailed information about specific items and may affect the risk status of the consignment. Completion of this declaration is not mandatory but MPI strongly advises that this is done.

Risk screening

Once the completed documentation has been presented to the MPI Cargo Clearance Services, a Quarantine Inspector will screen the declarations, along with the list of contents, against any relevant Import Health Standards to determine risk status (see what you must declare). In many cases no inspection of cargo is required, but inspection of the sea container is mandatory. This will be carried out by an accredited person.

If an inspection of goods is required MPI Cargo Clearance will need to be notified of the location. Inspections may be carried out at the importing agent’s premises or may be done at the final delivery location.

Wood packaging

Where wood packaging material (such as pallets and crates) is used to pack cargo it will need to meet specific requirements to gain biosecurity clearance. This is because wood can potentially harbor damaging pests such as wood-boring insects, which, if they became established in New Zealand, could have devastating effects on our natural environment and forestry industry.

Packaging material that is manufactured from solid wood must meet the requirements of the import health standard Wood Packaging Material from All Countries.

Packaging material that is manufactured from plywood or particle board must meet the requirements of the import health standard Wooden Panels from All Countries.

Sending goods by air

Goods can also be shipped to New Zealand via air freight.

As with personal belongings shipped by sea, the importer is required to fill out an Unaccompanied Personal Baggage Declaration (NZCS 218) (offsite link to www.customs.govt.nz). A complete inventory of goods should also be available to allow MPI staff to screen the cargo for risk items. A good tip is to number boxes or packages and make a list of the items inside. Any contents that are classified as restricted items must be declared.

A Personal Effects Supplementary Declaration Link to PDF document (126 KB) should also be completed for consignments containing items that might pose a biosecurity risk. This declaration provides more detailed information about specific items and may affect the risk status of the consignment. Completion of this declaration is not mandatory but MPI strongly advises that this is done.

Costs and fees

MPI Cargo Clearance Services will charge for all clearances and inspections as outlined in the Biosecurity Cost Regulations 2010 Link to PDF document (68 KB).

Page last updated: 14 December 2012