Ships and Vessels
All vessels travelling to New Zealand (including commercial shipping, pleasure craft and oil/mineral vessels and rigs) need to meet a number of requirements before and on arrival to ensure New Zealand’s environment, economy and people are protected from imported pests and diseases
Following the arrival process outlined below will help ensure an efficient arrival into New Zealand. This information sets out the requirements for most commercial vessels. There are differing, or in some cases additional, requirements for other vessel types. See here:
All vessels MUST arrive at an approved Place of First Arrival unless there is an emergency or prior approval has been granted by MPI to enter at another specified location.
The Place of First Arrival webpage gives a full list of approved ports and the contact details.
Before your arrival in New Zealand
All arriving vessels (masters or agents) must send biosecurity documentation to MPI 48 hours before the estimated time of arrival in port. This paperwork can be sent by email to: firstname.lastname@example.org or faxed to 09 909 3729, OR it can be sent along with the New Zealand Customs Service forms to: email@example.com.
This documentation is processed at a centralised location for all New Zealand places of first arrival. Any questions about this process can be addressed to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Port-specific questions can be directed to MPI Inspectors at your intended arrival port. Phone and email contact details are at Place of First Arrival .
The completed documents required are:
- Advance Notice of Arrival (all government form) NZCS 344 (Advance Notice of Arrival)
- Ballast Water Declaration forms : Ballast Water Declaration Part 1, Ballast Water Declaration Part 2
- The Masters Declaration for ships’ masters.
The Masters Declaration asks you to list all meat and fresh produce on board, identify any animals carried by the vessel, and describe your refuse and pest management measures.
- Note: The Masters Declaration for Full Biosecurity Clearance is a different declaration for the masters of yachts or other vessels intending stay in New Zealand for a prolonged visit or permanently. This is generally completed on arrival. This is available here.
New Zealand has strict conditions regarding the discharge of ballast water. The Ballast Water Import Health Standard (PDF) requires inbound vessels to formally submit their intentions around ballast water before arrival. Where MPI is satisfied that the declaration shows that ballast water tanks have been treated or exchanged with mid-ocean water, permission will be granted to release ballast water in New Zealand territorial waters from those tanks. Do not discharge ballast until you have received this permission. See Guide to New Zealand Ballast Water Controls to find out more.
MPI has recently released a Craft Risk Management Standard (CRMS) for vessel biofouling. This will not be enforced until 2018, but until then voluntary compliance is encouraged. For further information, see the information at the top of this page.
If intending to bring animals into New Zealand territorial waters on a vessel, seek information on the requirements well ahead of the voyage by contacting Animal Imports (email@example.com). Any animals on board must be secured for berthing of the vessel and must remain secured at least until inspected. Animals such as dogs or cats may be bonded while the vessel is in New Zealand waters. An amount of up to $NZ10,000 can be charged to an animal owner who breaks a bond agreement.
Vessels should be free of pests such as ants, bees, beetles, vermin and other hitchhiker animals. Currently Asian Gypsy moth is a major pest that is specifically managed.
See the Fact Sheet for further information on other pests of concern.
Asian Gypsy Moth (AGM) Risk Vessels: Currently the criteria for high risk of AGM is if a vessel has visited a Far East Russian port (south of 60° latitude and west of 147° longitude) between 18 July and 16 September during the previous 12 months.
A vessel that meets the criteria for high risk of Asian Gypsy Moth (AGM) and does not have a certificate of freedom may be required to undergo a high level inspection for AGM egg masses. This may be carried out before arrival 4 nm offshore at a location agreed with MPI, or can be carried out at certain ports. Such vessels cannot move into port or close to the coast unless there are 8 hours of daylight remaining for the inspection and cargo discharge will be delayed.
The criteria for other risk of AGM is if a vessel visited the risk areas of Japan, South Korea or China north of latitude 310 15’ during the corresponding risk period(the period when when female moths are in flight and egg laying). Further detail and a table of risk areas and corresponding risk periods is provided in the Notice to Shipping (see news box at top of this webpage for the link to the notice).
To avoid undue delays in New Zealand, if a vessel has in the last 12 months visited any of these other risk areas during the corresponding risk period, obtaining a certificate of freedom from a recognised inspection body (see the Notice to Shipping) is recommended as this can be taken into account by the border inspectors on arrival.
To be valid any certificate should provide evidence of freedom from AGM after an inspection undertaken during daylight shortly before leaving the last port visited in a risk area, or at any time after the risk period. A vessel that has such a certificate can declare it on New Zealand’s Advance Notice of Arrival form, question 41.
Brown Marmorated Stink Bug: This insect is a serious pest of crops and nuisance to people. It has recently been found arriving at the NZ border on cargo and vessels from the US. Crew should be on the look-out and report it if seen. For more information see the Fact Sheet .
What does it look like? A poster for your notice board .
Ships may be checked for other pests. Please notify MPI, such as through the pre-arrival documentation, if you have seen any pests on board.
Change of Master
When a master of a visiting vessel is replaced, the new master must countersign the Masters Declaration, the Ballast Water Declaration and any bond agreement and send to MPI at firstname.lastname@example.org.
On arrival you will be asked to complete Passenger Arrival cards for all passengers and crew disembarking permanently in New Zealand.
Where a vessel does not berth immediately and goes to anchor, it may delay clearance for 48 hours. The Master will be informed of any requirements for storage of refuse, and will need to agree in writing to comply with those conditions.
There are no charges for routine clearance of vessels at approved Places of First Arrival. There will be charges for vessels that need to be cleared at anchor.
When you have arrived at your first port, unless there is an emergency situation, all people and goods must remain onboard until clearance has been completed, or you have received permission from MPI.
While in New Zealand territorial waters, refuse must be held in such a manner as to preclude access by animals, including vermin, birds and insects and must not be landed except at a port.
Refuse is only permitted to be landed at a port (place of first arrival) and only by the MPI approved disposal system. Inspectors will direct you to land any overflowing refuse to the system. Refuse disposal is at the vessel’s expense.
Galley waste disposal units that discharge ground up waste are not approved for use in ports or anywhere within three nautical miles of the coast.
No stores can be landed in New Zealand except as directed by an inspector and disposal of any unwanted food can only be through the approved port refuse collection.
Some meats or fresh produce in the store may be a risk to New Zealand and the inspector will request extra care is taken to ensure they are not landed or disposed of other than by the approved system. Some may be sealed by the inspector and these must not be opened while in New Zealand waters.
Wood packaging material (includes dunnage, pallets, fillets, spacers etc) for entry to New Zealand should meet New Zealand's requirements for treatment (ISPM 15) and certification .
Dunnage may be inspected and any contaminated dunnage will be directed to be stored in a place where pests will be contained or landed for destruction, in which case this must be as directed by an inspector and there will be a charge for its destruction by an approved process.
MPI Biosecurity Inspectors (along with New Zealand Customs Service officers) may board the vessel at the first or subsequent ports and meet with the Master or their representative to review and complete documentation. In some ports a vessel berthing after 1700 hours will have any inspection delayed until morning unless it is due to leave before 0800 hours the next day. Inspectors may:
- Inspect the decks and holds and superstructure for pest organisms
- Discuss appropriate pest management programmes where needed
- Inspect galleys, and provision areas
- Inspect what animals are present and ensure that they are secured on board
- Assess and inspect vessel refuse system
- Inspect any ship's dunnage, wood packaging, pallets and other timber
- Inspect bicycles and sports gear for landing or use in New Zealand
- Inspect any baggage or belongings of disembarking passengers and crew
- Inspect ship's logs relating to ballast water and possibly take samples.
- Discuss best practise for biofouling management.
Passengers and crew intending to permanently disembark will be asked to complete their arrival cards and present them to a MPI Biosecurity Inspector. For cruise passengers and crew see www.biosecurity.govt.nz/enter/ships/cruise .
You will not be allowed to take any biosecurity items (including food or plants or plant material) from the vessel without written approval by the MPI Inspector.
Arrival at subsequent New Zealand port
Vessels that are not fully cleared (such as most commercial trading vessels and passenger vessels) remain under biosecurity surveillance while in New Zealand territorial waters and will be permitted to only visit other approved Place of First Arrival . These vessels may be inspected by MPI at any of these ports.
Standards applying to vessel biosecurity clearance
- Vessel Standard (493 KB)
- Ballast Water Import Standard
- CRMS for Biofouling (issued, comes into force 2018)
For further information:
Qualified MPI Biosecurity Inspectors are available to respond to your enquiries by email: email@example.com or by phoning 09 909 4862. Enquiries can also be made in person at MPI port offices during normal work hours. Contact details, email addresses and phone numbers are listed under the Places of first arrival .
Page last updated: 17 July 2015