What you must declare

New Zealand has very strict biosecurity procedures at airports and ports to prevent the introduction of pests and diseases of animals and plants. On arrival, you will be given a Passenger Arrival Card that you will need to fill in before entering New Zealand. This is a legal document. If you break the law by giving false or incorrect declarations it may result in fines or imprisonment.

Enquiries: For general enquiries phone 0800 00 83 33 when calling within New Zealand or +64 4 894 0100 if calling from overseas - or email your enquiries to MPI Clearance. Our qualified inspectors will respond to your enquiries as soon as possible.

Warning: People failing to declare biosecurity risk goods can receive an instant fine of $400, be fined up to $100,000 and/or face up to five years in prison. Declare or Dispose. If in doubt, ask a bisosecurity inspector when you arrive at the airport. More information is available about fines.

There is a quick guide (offsite link to www.mpi.govt.nz) outlining general items that are restricted entry to New Zealand. This guide does not provide a full list and you should consult the information below for more specific items you may wish to bring. There is no law against bringing risk goods into the country as long as you declare them. When you declare items, your goods will be inspected. They may be treated and returned if considered safe.

Any of the items listed on this page should be declared on your Passenger Arrival Card and to a biosecurity inspector. If the biosecurity inspector determines that the items are prohibited goods, they may be re-shipped or destroyed.

On arrival you may see MPI Biosecurity Detector Dogs that are specially trained to sniff out risk goods, your bags may also go through an X-ray machine. If any items are found, Biosecurity staff may open your bags for inspection. Make sure that you declare or dispose of any prohibited items before the biosecurity process. Amnesty bins are located throughout airports. Refer to Your Belongings for additional information.

If you are importing goods see the Standards and Regulations, Importing section of this site. Items will need to meet requirements outlined in the appropriate Import Health Standards.

All food items brought into New Zealand, even the smallest amounts, need to be declared. These items include:

  • Meat
  • Eggs
  • Dairy products
  • Dried mushrooms & fungi
  • Honey and honey products
  • Seeds for human consumption and processing into food
  • Nuts, spices, herbs and un-popped popcorn
  • Dried, cooked or preserved fruit and vegetables
  • Fresh fruit or vegetables

Import health standards are in place for many food items. The import health standards detail any certification or treatment requirements required for an item prior to import, as well as any requirements on arrival in New Zealand. Some food items only require inspection on arrival; others have no certification or inspection requirements at all.

If you are importing food items, you will need to follow the rules and regulations for Importing. New Zealand Food Safety Authority (offsite link to www.nzfsa.govt.nz)has additional information on importing Gifts and food for personal consumption (offsite link to foodsmart.govt.nz).

Whether fresh or dried, living or dead, large or small, common or rare, all plant material must be declared. Items may require treatment or an import permit, and some products will not be allowed to be imported at all. Examples of plants and plant products that must be declared include:

  • Dried flowers
  • Items made of bamboo, cane, rattan, coconut, straw
  • Items made of wood, e.g. drums, carvings, spears, masks, utensils or tools
  • Pine cones
  • Corn and straw souvenirs, including items stuffed with seeds and straw
  • Herbal medicines, health supplements and homeopathic remedies

If you intend to bring any of the following items into New Zealand, you must comply with the requirements for Importing Plants. Additional information may be found by clicking on the link for the item you wish to bring into the country.

Live animals can be carriers of pests and diseases. You will need correct documentation when bringing in live animals, which will depend on the type of animal and where it is coming from.

General information about importing live animals and germplasm (semen and embryos) can be found on the MPI website and accessed through the Importing - Animals tab on the MPI homepage. Please use the Import Health Standard search for additional information on entry conditions specific to the animal and country of origin.

For specific information about bringing cats and dogs into New Zealand, please refer to Your Pets

See Importing - Animals for additional information on entry conditions are described within the specific Import Health Standard.

Animal products will need to be inspected and may require treatment or permits. Some items will not be allowed into New Zealand. Consult the relevant Import Health Standard of the Importing Animals section of this site.

Animal products include:

  • Fishing and water activity equipment - When you enter New Zealand you will need to declare all freshwater activity equipment. This includes life vests, dive suits, water vessels and all fishing equipment such as rods, reels, tackle boxes, nets and waders. Any non-artificial material for fly tying will need to meet the Import Health Standard for Feathers.
  • Sea shells - Many sea shells are allowed into New Zealand but some require documentation under the CITES agreement (offsite link to www.cites.org). These shells include the Queen Conch shell, clam shells and coral.
  • Water – for human consumption, religious purposes or laboratory analysis may be imported under the requirements for Soil, rock, gravel, sand, clay, peat and water.
  • Ballast water - No ballast water from another country’s waters is to be emptied into New Zealand waters without the permission of an inspector. Please refer to Ballast water from all countries and Guide to New Zealand Ballast Water Control for more information.
  • Seaweed and algae – when imported for human consumption, these must meet the entry requirements for Plant Products.
  • Micro-organisms - each request to import Micro-Organisms is assessed on a case by case basis.
  • Aquarium plants or seeds - must meet the entry requirements for Seeds for Sowing or Nursery Stock.

Other goods imported into New Zealand that could introduce pests, diseases or unwanted organisms. These items must comply with Import Health Standards.

Non-Biological Items

Vehicles and Machinery

  • If you are importing a used vehicle, it will need to be inspected for soil, plant material, insects and other contaminants and cleaned if necessary. Any used vehicles not in a container will be inspected on arrival. Vehicles arriving in a container will be inspected at an approved transitional facility.
  • You will need to meet the Import Health Standard for used vehicles. This includes any:
    • Cars, vans and utility vehicles
    • Used vehicles
    • Agricultural and forestry machinery
    • Used tyres

If the vehicle is to be used on the road, New Zealand Transport Agency (NZTA) (offsite link to www.nzta.govt.nz) will inspect the vehicle. NZTA will record the odometer reading, confirm the identity number and look for any structural damage to ensure it is roadworthy.

These items must be declared on your Passenger Arrival Card (offsite link to www.customs.govt.nz). Items might be inspected on arrival and should be packed in an easily accessible place.

  • Tents - Before you enter New Zealand, make sure your tent is clean inside and outside (including underneath the floor). The pegs and poles will also need to be cleaned and free of soil and organic material.
  • Footwear - All hiking and sporting footwear should be properly cleaned prior to arrival.
  • Camp foods - Any heat-and-eat meals, dehydrated meals and milk powder will need to meet the Import Health Standard for Specified Foods for Human Consumption Containing Animal Products.
  • Fishing and Water Activity Equipment - Saltwater fishing equipment is permitted entry.
    All freshwater activity equipment such as life vests, dive suits and water vessels, as well as fishing equipment including rods, reels, tackle boxes, nets and waders should be clean and free of organic residue. See Check, Clean, Dry for instructions on cleaning this equipment. These items must comply with the conditions of the following Import Health Standard.
    Fishing flies are permitted entry but all non-artificial material for fly tying must comply with the conditions of the Import Health Standard for Feathers.

New Zealand is party to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) agreement (offsite link to www.cites.org). It covers items such as ivory, turtle shell artifacts, clam shells, coral, products made from snakeskin or whalebone and some Chinese medicines. Plants, animals or products covered by the agreement are not allowed into New Zealand, except with a special permit issued by the Department of Conservation (offsite link to www.doc.govt.nz).

Many endangered species are being driven to extinction to make souvenirs. By supporting the CITES agreement and deciding not to buy goods made from endangered species, you can help save these rare plants and animals.

If you want to import a plant species that is new to New Zealand you must apply to the Environmental Risk Management Agency (offsite link to www.ermanz.govt.nz) (ERMA).

Page last updated: 13 September 2013