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 Cards – these 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.
- 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.
- On arrival in New Zealand, your bags may be sniffed by detector dogs, x-rayed or searched.
- Detailed information about requirements for bringing goods to New Zealand is in documents called Import Health Standards.
Watch Officer Goodboy explain New Zealand's main biosecurity requirements and the importance of declaring or disposing.
Video – Pawder Patrol (1:39)
[A title “Border Patrol” appears above a conveyor belt of suitcases, then changes to read Pawder Patrol. A computer-animated dog, dressed as a biosecurity officer, stands behind the conveyor belt. He fumbles with a microphone clipped to his collar then walks toward the camera.]
Officer Goodboy: "Is here fine? I’m a bit far away…should I come a little closer?"
[A hand appears from behind the camera indicating that he should stop.]
Cameraman: "No, stay there, stay, staaaaay."
[The hand disappears, and a title appears – Officer Goodboy, Biosecurity Officer.]
Officer Goodboy: "Uhh, well…I’ve been working as a biosecurity officer for about a year now. But sometimes it seems more like 7!
[The camera pulls out to show a conveyor belt in front of Officer Goodboy, which carries packages and a suitcase.]
"My job’s to sniff out the stuff people forget to declare or dispose of.
[Officer Goodboy’s nose starts twitching. He presses the button to stop the conveyor belt, opens the suitcase, sniffs around, and pulls out an apple with his mouth.]
[He spits the apple into his paw.]
"In my line of work, all fruit and veggies are considered rotten, since they could hide diseases and pests harmful to New Zealand’s clean and green environment.
[He tosses the apple into a bin labelled “Dispose here please”. He sniffs the bin, then dives in headfirst and starts pulling out different foods.]
"Eggs, meat, honey, cooking ingredients. Even herbs, seeds and spices need to be de…de…de…declared!
[He sneezes, which sends him flying out of the bin in a cloud of spice.]
"Gets me every time.
[A moving conveyor belt carries a dirty tramping pack and bedroll.]
"Used outdoor equipment does too.
[Officer Goodboy sniffs some dirty outdoor equipment then turns up his nose. He points at the backpack.]
"Brrr. I don’t know what that’s been in, but that is not allowed! If they haven’t been declared though, you’ll be fined $400. Which, as we say in the industry, is ruff.
[He waits, then comes closer to the camera.]
"Hey, hey, hey. Take a few tricks from an old fella like me. Save yourself a heap of trouble by throwing any risk items in the airport amnesty bins after landing.
[A bin labelled “Dispose here please” is shown. Officer Goodboy ducks down and grabs a form – a passenger arrival card – in his mouth.]
"And be sure to fill out one of these puppies.
[He pulls the form out of his mouth with his paw. The form is covered in slobber.]
"And if you’re not sure what to do, just ask an officer like me, or my handler, who probably won't expect a treat afterwards.
[A title appears that says 'Declare or dispose your items. Avoid a $400 fine'. Logos for the New Zealand government and MPI are also shown.]
[Officer Goodboy holds out the form then shakes it.]
"Sorry, you might want to wipe the slobber off that one."
[End of 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.
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.
Do you have questions about food?
We're often asked about the types of food you can bring to New Zealand. Again, there is no list of allowed foods. But our web page 'Bringing food for personal use' has guidance about some common foods like:
- baked goods
- sweets, lollies, and chocolate
- maple syrup
Some types of food are definitely banned
Generally, you cannot bring in:
- fresh fruit and vegetables
- fresh meat or fish
- honey and bee products.
If you have any of these items with you, declare them or dispose of them on your arrival in the marked bins at the airport or seaport. If you don't declare all the food you are carrying, you will be fined and the food will be confiscated.
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, 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.
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.
All food items brought into New Zealand, even the smallest amounts and ingredients for cooking, need to be declared. Food items include:
- fresh fruit and vegetables
- dairy products
- dried mushrooms and fungi
- honey and honey products
- seeds for human consumption and for processing into food
- nuts, spices, herbs, and un-popped popcorn
- dried, cooked, or preserved fruit and vegetables.
If you're importing large quantities of food items for commercial use, you'll need to follow the rules and regulations for importing those products.
All animal products brought into New Zealand need to be inspected and may need treatment or permits. Some items will not be allowed into New Zealand.
Animal products include:
- Chinese or Asian medicine
- honey and honey products, including cosmetics, health supplements and medicines
- shells and clams
- turtle shell items
- products made from snakeskin or whalebone.
Novelty items, souvenirs, and ornaments should be declared if they have any parts made from:
- animal fibres or feathers
- animals hides and skins.
Biological products of animal origin, microorganisms, and cell cultures
These products must be declared. They can contain animal dung and plant materials that may carry pests and diseases. If you are carrying any of these types of items, make sure you declare them or you can be fined.
All plant material must be declared. Items may need treatment or an import permit, and some products are prohibited. Examples of plants and plant products that must be declared include:
- dried and fresh flowers
- plant cuttings
- items made of bamboo, cane, rattan, coconut, straw
- items made of wood, for example, drums, carvings, masks, weapons, or tools
- pine cones
- any souvenirs made from plant material – for example, corn and straw, including items stuffed with seeds and straw
- herbal medicines, health supplements, and homeopathic remedies
- religious offerings.
If you bring wood products, fruit, vegetables, other plant products, micro-organisms or laboratory specimens into New Zealand, you must comply with the requirements for importing those items.
For more information refer to the steps to importing:
Used equipment, like sporting and recreational equipment, must be declared on your passenger arrival card.
This type of equipment can transfer soil and plant material from other countries into New Zealand that may carry pests, diseases, and seeds – all of which can pose a threat to our environment and wildlife. Some contaminants such as viruses, bacteria and fungi are not visible and may be present on used equipment that appears clean to the naked eye.
Equipment might be inspected on arrival so it should be easy to reach in your luggage.
If you are unsure about whether or not your equipment needs inspecting – declare it.
Used equipment includes:
- all hiking and sporting footwear, including gaiters for tramping – or any footwear used outside of urban areas – which should be cleaned prior to arrival and be free of soil and seeds
- tents and any camping equipment
- all camping foods
- hunting gear, including clothing and backpacks
- any equipment used with animals such as:
- farm footwear
- vet supplies
- horse riding equipment, saddles, and bridle gear
- animal shearing equipment, including clothing used while shearing animals
- gardening equipment
- all equipment – like clothing, footwear and tools – used for work in industries such as horticulture, viticulture (wine production), apiculture (beekeeping), aquaculture (fish farming), and forestry.
- fishing and water activity equipment including but not limited to:
- diving equipment and wetsuits
- waders, fishing rods, lines, hooks, flies.
- MPI recommends you leave your felt-soled waders at home. Entry requirements are strict for this type of footwear. Plus you're not allowed to use felt-soled waders when fishing in freshwater (this is a Fish and Game Council prohibition). Felt-soled waders are likely to be seized at the border and directed for destruction, treatment, or reshipment.
- Fishing flies are permitted entry but all non-artificial material for fly-tying must meet the conditions in the Import Health Standard for fibres.
Find out more
- Bringing and using fishing equipment in New Zealand – Fish and Game Council
- Importing fibres and feathers
- The Import Health Standard for fibres [PDF, 194 KB]
Freshwater fishing gear must be clean and dry
If you're bringing used freshwater fishing equipment into New Zealand, it must be clean and dry.
If MPI officers suspect your equipment isn't completely dry (even if you cleaned it before coming), you'll have to either:
- wait at the airport until your equipment is treated at your expense (this could take several hours)
- arrange for collection of your equipment from a treatment facility at your expense
- reship the equipment at your expense
- authorise MPI to destroy the equipment.
How you can help protect our environment
Refer to 'Check, Clean, Dry' information for instructions on cleaning sporting and camping equipment before coming to New Zealand.
Once in New Zealand – you can continue to protect our environment and wildlife by:
- cleaning, checking, and drying your equipment when you move from location to location. This can help stop pests, like didymo, spreading between our rivers.
- cleaning equipment and sticking to tracks to slow the spread of the disease that is killing our giant Kauri trees.
Find out more
There are other items imported into New Zealand that could introduce pests, diseases, or unwanted organisms. These items must comply with a relevant import health standard.
Non-biological items include:
- containers and cargo
- vehicles and machinery.
For more information read about:
When you enter New Zealand, you'll need to declare all salt and freshwater products and equipment. This includes:
- sea shells
- any fish and shellfish
- seaweed, algae, aquarium plants, and seeds
- diving, swimming, and fishing equipment, including non-artificial material for fly-tying.
Live animals can be carriers of pests and diseases and you'll need the correct documentation when bringing them into New Zealand. Find out about:
Many endangered species are needlessly destroyed to make souvenirs for travellers. By supporting the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) agreement and deciding not to buy goods made from endangered species, you can help save these rare plants and animals from extinction.
New Zealand is party to the CITES agreement. It covers items like:
- clam shells
- Chinese medicines
- products made from crocodile or alligator (such as jerky and souvenirs)
- products made from snakeskin
- products made from whalebone
- turtle shell artefacts
CITES items not allowed into NZ without a special permit
Any plant, animal, or product covered by the CITES agreement is not allowed into New Zealand, except with a special permit issued by the Department of Conservation. If you try to bring in items under the CITES agreement without appropriate permits, they'll be seized.
Find out more about endangered species by visiting the:
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.
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 email@example.com
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