Yachts & 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
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).
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.
Marine organisms on your hull (biofouling) should be removed before you arrive. You can do this by:
- cleaning the entire hull and all under-water parts and recesses at your last destination before New Zealand (less than 30 days before arrival in New Zealand)
- treating organisms in your sea-water systems (shortly before departing for New Zealand)
- having an effective antifouling coating that is regularly maintained.
Keep records and proof of what you did to keep your hull clean. This will help to avoid an inspector directing your vessel to be hauled out and cleaned at an approved hull cleaning facility (at your expense). New Zealand has new requirements for hull biofouling that come into force in May 2018. Until then, MPI will continue to only take action against severe cases of biofouling.
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.
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.
- Advance notice of arrival (form NZCS 340) – Customs website
- Yachts and small craft – Customs website
Email your completed form to Customs. It will be forwarded to MPI.
- Email firstname.lastname@example.org
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:
- VHF Ch 16.
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:
- Master's declaration for full biosecurity clearance [PDF, 429 KB]
- New Zealand passenger arrival card – NZ Customs Service website
and if relevant:
- New Zealand biofouling and ballast water declaration: parts 1 and 2 [DOCX, 34 KB]
- New Zealand biofouling and ballast water declaration: part 3 [DOCX, 53 KB]
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.
Find out more
- Clearance procedures for yachts and pleasure craft – fact sheet [PDF, 240 KB]
- Information for vessels entering high value areas [PDF, 270 KB]
- Information for yachts on hull fouling [PDF, 1.1 MB]
- Don't bring hitchhikers to NZ on your vessel – fact sheet [PDF, 535 KB]
- The arrival process steps for all vessels
- Procedures for cats and dogs arriving on vessels
Who to contact
If you have questions about bringing a recreational vessel to New Zealand: