Allowances & duty-free concessions

Whether you're coming to New Zealand as a tourist, as a new migrant, or as a resident returning home, you will find that there are various concessions and duty-free entries that will almost certainly apply to some of your goods.

Everyone entering New Zealand can claim a clothing and personal effects concession. If you are moving here permanently, there are also concessions available on your household items, boats, aircraft and motor vehicles. You will, however, need to prove your right to residency.

Certain quantities of cigarettes, tobacco and alcohol can also be brought in duty free. You need to be aware of the allowances otherwise you may find yourself liable for duty and other charges if you are over the permitted limits.

Learn here about your personal concessions, duty-free entries and all the relevant conditions that apply to goods being brought into New Zealand.

This description was last updated on: Friday, 15 April 2011 .

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​On entering New Zealand you are entitled to bring in the following quantities of alcohol products free of Customs duty, provided that you are aged 17 years* or older and that the goods:

  • accompany you through the Customs arrival process
  • are for your own personal use, or intended as gifts
  • are not carried on behalf of another person.
  • are not intended for sale or exchange

If the above is applicable the following amounts are allowed duty free:

  • 4.5 litres of wine or 4.5 litres of beer.
  • Three bottles (or other containers) each containing not more than 1,125ml of spirits, liqueur, or other spirituous beverages.

Any amounts over the above will be liable for Customs duty and goods and services tax (GST). This includes bottles which are of greater volumes than the one described.

* Please note that New Zealand law prohibits the sale of alcoholic drinks and tobacco products to anyone in New Zealand under the age of 18 years. This restriction applies to New Zealand duty-free outlets.

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Last updated: Friday, 21 February 2014

On entering New Zealand you are entitled to bring in the following quantities of tobacco products free of Customs duty, provided that you are over 17 years of age and that the goods:

  • Accompany you through the Customs arrival process.
  • Are for your own personal use.
  • Are not carried on behalf of another person.
  • Are not intended for sale or exchange.

If the above is applicable the following amounts are allowed duty free:

  • 50 cigarettes or
  • 50 grams of tobacco or cigars or
  • a mixture of all three weighing not more than 50 grams.

Any amounts over the above will be liable for Customs duty and goods and services tax (GST).

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Last updated: Tuesday, 25 November 2014

Returning residents, citizens, visitors and others are able to import their boats and aircraft free of Customs charges under certain conditions. Please note, though, that there are size restrictions relating to boats.

In order to qualify for concessionary entry, each of the following conditions must be met in full:

  • You have personally arrived in New Zealand and – on the date the aircraft or boat  is imported – hold a document authorising your permanent residence in New Zealand.
  • You have lived outside New Zealand for the whole of the 21 months before the date of your arrival in New Zealand.
  • You have personally owned and used the boat or aircraft for at least one year before the date of your departure for New Zealand; or the date on which the boat or aircraft was surrendered for shipping; or the date of its departure for New Zealand where the boat or aircraft is imported other than as cargo – whichever is earlier.
  • You give a written undertaking that, if the boat or aircraft is sold or otherwise disposed of within two years from the date of importation, you will make payment of the Customs charges that would normally have been payable.

Size restrictions for boats and sailing vessels

To qualify for the concessionary entry your boat or vessel must not:

  • Exceed 2.5 metres in width at any section in the sailing condition.
  • Exceed 1,000 kilograms unladen weight.
  • Incorporate any device for propelling the vessel by power, for example, an auxiliary motor.
  • Be of the deep keel type.

Additionally for boats, powered vessels must not:

  • Exceed 7 metres in overall length.
  • Exceed 2.5 metres in width at any section.
  • Exceed 1,250 kilograms all up unladen weight (including driving units and transmissions) or 800 kilograms unladen weight (without driving units and transmissions).

If any of the above applies to your boat or vessel, then you may be liable for Customs duty and any other applicable charges.

Leased boats and aircraft

In some cases, the boats and aircraft may have been either:

  • leased by you, or
  • purchased by you through a hire purchase agreement.

This concession will still apply as long as you have:

  • had possession of the boat or aircraft for at least one year prior to the date of your departure for New Zealand, or one year prior to the date the craft was surrendered for shipping – whichever is the earlier
  • complied with the terms of the lease or hire purchase in full – prior to property in the boat or aircraft passing to the importer, and prior to importation into New Zealand.

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Last updated: Friday, 15 April 2011

​When entering New Zealand to live for the first time you may import boats (of any size) without payment of Customs duty. The concession, however, is subject to all the following conditions:

  • You have arrived to live in New Zealand for the first time; and on the date the boat is imported you hold a document authorising residence in New Zealand. (Brief holidays or exploratory visits do not exclude a person from qualifying for this concession.)
  • You have personally owned and used the boat for at least one year before the date of your departure for New Zealand; or one year before the date on which the boat or aircraft was surrendered for shipping; or one year before the date of its departure for New Zealand where the boat or aircraft is imported other than as cargo – whichever is earlier.
  • You give a written undertaking that, if the boat is sold or otherwise disposed of within two years of the date of its arrival in New Zealand, you will make payment of the Customs charges that would normally have been payable; and you give a written undertaking that the boat will not be used for hire, or for the transport of cargo, or the carriage of passengers, or for any other commercial activity or reward, within two years of its importation.

Leased boats and aircraft

In some cases the boats may have been either:

  • leased by you, or
  • purchased by you through a hire purchase agreement.

This concession will still apply as long as you have:

  • Possessed the boat for at least one year prior to the date of your departure for New Zealand; or one year prior to the date it was surrendered for shipping to New Zealand – whichever is earlier.
  • Complied with the terms of the lease or hire purchase in full: prior to property in the boat passing to the importer; and prior to importation into New Zealand.

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Last updated: Friday, 15 April 2011

​When entering New Zealand either as a returning citizen or resident, or as a  first time settler, your motor vehicle will be admitted free of duty and goods and services tax (GST).

In order to qualify for this concessionary entry, all the following conditions must be met in full:

  • You have arrived in New Zealand and, on the date the motor vehicle is imported, you hold a document authorising permanent residence in New Zealand.
  • For the whole of the period of 21 months preceding your arrival, you have resided or been domiciled outside New Zealand. Brief holidays or exploratory visits do not exclude a person from qualifying for this concession.
  • You have personally owned and used the vehicle for at least one year before the date of your departure for New Zealand, or the date on which the vehicle is surrendered for shipping – whichever is earlier.
  • The vehicle is being imported for your own personal use and not for sale, gift or disposal in any other way.
  • You give a concession reference 80 undertaking. This means you give a written undertaking that if the motor vehicle is sold or otherwise disposed of within two years from the date of importation, you will make payment of the Customs charges that would normally have been payable.

These conditions are strictly applied and we have no discretionary licence to adapt them to suit particular circumstances. If the above criteria cannot be met, your vehicle will be considered a non-concessionary import and Customs charges will be payable.

Period of ownership and actual use

A vehicle will not qualify for concessionary entry if the owner surrenders it for shipping to New Zealand before 12 whole months have passed since original delivery was taken; or the owner leaves for New Zealand without having used the vehicle for a minimum of one year. For example, if you purchase and take delivery of a vehicle on 10 June, you must not hand it over to be shipped before 10 June of the following year; and you must not leave for New Zealand before that date.

Lifestyle and work requirements may dictate that the owner is not in a position to use the vehicle on a daily basis. This will not necessarily disqualify a vehicle from concessionary entry if you can satisfy Customs that the vehicle in question was available for use whenever it was needed. The key element is that the periods of actual use, if not continuous, should span a full 12 months.

Lease and hire purchase vehicles

Personal ownership includes vehicles which have been:

  • leased by the importer, or
  • purchased by the importer through a hire purchase agreement.

This concession only applies if you:

  • Possessed the vehicle for at least one year prior to your departure for New Zealand, or the vehicle was surrendered for shipping no sooner than one year after the date ownership was taken –  whichever is earlier.
  • Complied with the terms of the lease or hire purchase in full (ie, full ownership of the vehicle passing to the importer, and prior to importation into New Zealand).

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Last updated: Friday, 15 April 2011

​Document authorising residency in New Zealand means any of the following:

  • A current New Zealand passport.
  • A current Australian passport.
  • A current New Zealand residence visa or permit or a New Zealand current returning resident's visa or permit.
  • A current permanent residence visa (including a resident return visa) issued by the Government of the Commonwealth of Australia.
  • A current New Zealand work visa or work permit that was issued for a minimum of twelve months.
  • A current New Zealand work visa or work permit issued under the Work to Residency (Skilled Migrant Category) policy or the Long Term Business Visa/Permit category.
  • A current New Zealand visitor’s visa or permit that was issued for a minimum of three years*
 
 

*Note. A visa issued for three years is a document which permits the holder to stay in New Zealand for a full three years.  This is distinct from a three-year multiple entry visa. This type of document permits travel to New Zealand within a given three year period, but for no more than six months at a time, and for no more than 18 months overall. A three-year multiple entry visa does not meet the requirements to be a document authorising residence.

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Last updated: Wednesday, 22 June 2011

​When entering New Zealand either as a returning citizen or resident, or if settling for the first time, your household or other related effects will be admitted free of Customs duty and goods and services tax (GST) for a reasonable time after you arrive, provided you can meet the following requirements:

  • You have arrived in New Zealand and, on the date the effects are imported, hold a document authorising residence in New Zealand.
  • For the whole of the period of 21 months preceding your arrival, you have lived outside New Zealand (brief holiday or exploratory visits do not exclude a person from qualifying for this concession).
  • You have owned and used the goods before the date of your arrival in New Zealand.
  • The goods are for your own personal use and are not intended for any other person or persons, or for gift, sale, or exchange.

Exceptions

The following goods will not qualify for duty-free entry, unless you can establish that they were for your own personal use prior to their arrival in New Zealand:

  • Any goods shipped directly after purchase to avoid local taxes in the country of export.
  • Replacement electrical equipment operating to New Zealand standards.
  • Goods of a commercial nature (such as factory plant and office equipment).

In these cases you may need to pay Customs duty and any other applicable charges.

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Last updated: Friday, 15 April 2011

​Gifts are items sent from persons abroad to persons resident in New Zealand that are unsolicited by the recipient and relate to a special occasion such as a birthday, wedding or Christmas.

If the value of the gift is no more than NZ$110, it can be imported free of Customs charges.

If the gift is worth more than NZ$110, Customs charges will be payable on the value of the gift that is worth more than NZ$110.

Gift parcels

Where the contents of a parcel are intended for more than one person – and the contents are worth more than NZ$110 – a multiple gift allowance will be given. This is on condition, however, that the identity of each recipient is clearly established. This means that the gift allowance of NZ$110 can be applied to each gift separately.

Alcohol and tobacco

Alcohol may be allowed the gift concession provided the recipient is able to prove they are genuine gifts and not part of a repetitive import pattern designed to avoid payment of duty and goods and services tax (GST).

All tobacco products are specifically excluded from the gift concession and full duty and GST is payable on these imports.

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Last updated: Friday, 31 October 2014

​There is no requirement for travellers returning to New Zealand to declare goods  that were physically in their possession before they left for their overseas trip – unless the goods were purchased duty free in New Zealand at the time of departure; or are of significant value, for example a camera or laptop. If you are concerned that the possession of such re-imported goods might affect your duty-free entitlements when you return, you can ask for a Certificate of Export before you go – as proof of previous ownership.

A Certificate of Export can only be issued for goods that are uniquely identifiable by serial number, eg photographic equipment.

Customs can issue a Certificate of Export before you depart. Simply present the goods to a Customs office prior to leaving. Certificates of Export can be issued at point of departure; but this facility is not always available. If that is the case, it would be wise to keep your receipts or any other purchase documentation with you, as proof of prior ownership.

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Last updated: Friday, 15 April 2011

Heirlooms are historical objects or items that are passed down from generation to generation through a family. They may be imported into New Zealand free of all Customs duty and GST when suitable evidence is produced.

Part II reference 70 of the Tariff allows for an heirloom concession. This concession is available if the recipient is able to satisfy Customs that the item is a genuine heirloom that is not being imported for commercial gain. They must also satisfy Customs that it is a genuine bequest.

Original or certified true copies of a will or testamentary declaration can be provided to Customs to prove this. If these documents do not specify the item, a letter from the solicitors or trustees can also be submitted.

Customs acknowledges that each circumstance or case may be different and that supporting documents may not be available. In this case, the beneficiary should make a written application that describes the circumstances, to satisfy Customs the bequest is genuine.

Customs also allows heirloom concessions for living bequests. The donor would normally be of advanced age or in a position where the bequest seems proper. Proper documentary evidence that shows the donor is gifting the goods to the recipient should be submitted. 

Customs checks heirloom concessions based on the evidence and information lodged on the import entry. If individuals lodging the entry are unsure if the concession can apply, they can call Customs on 0800 4 CUSTOMS (0800 428 786).

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Last updated: Saturday, 27 July 2013

​When entering New Zealand you are entitled to a personal goods concession. This allows you to bring in goods free of duty (excluding alcohol and tobacco products) obtained overseas and/or purchased duty free in New Zealand, which have a total combined value of NZ$700. If the value of your goods is over NZ$700 then they may attract Customs duty and goods and services tax (GST).

These goods are those not covered by your wearing apparel and personal effects concession. The personal goods concession applies to goods that meet all the following conditions:

    • They accompany you through Customs.
    • They are for your personal use, or are intended as gifts.
    • They are not for sale or exchange.
    • They are not for use in your business or profession.
    • They are not imported for other persons at their request.

You cannot combine your concession with another person. For parents travelling with children, you may claim a concession for your child provided the goods claimed are the child’s own and are appropriate for their use.

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Last updated: Friday, 15 April 2011

When entering New Zealand, travellers are entitled to a wearing apparel and personal effects concession which includes the following items:

  • Clothing.
  • Toiletries.
  • Personal jewellery (including watches).

The wearing apparel and personal effects concession covers the above items which may have been acquired duty free in New Zealand or overseas.

These will be admitted free of Customs duty and goods and services tax (GST) irrespective of whether they accompany you or are sent separately, provided they are:

  • intended for your own use or wear; and
  • personally owned by you; and
  • not intended for any other person or persons; and
  • not intended for gift, sale or exchange.

Commercial quantities of individual items of clothing (including footwear) are not allowed under this concession.

Visitors to New Zealand

Visitors to New Zealand may bring in the following additional items under the wearing apparel and personal effects concession provided that they take them with them when they leave:

  • Personal cameras, film, tapes and accessories.
  • Binoculars.
  • Portable musical instruments.
  • Portable sound and video reproduction devices including tape recorders, compact disc players, mini disc players, DVD players, and dictating machines with discs and tapes.
  • Portable radio receivers.
  • Cellular or mobile phones.
  • Portable personal computers (laptops, net books) and accessories.
  • Baby carriages and strollers.
  • Wheelchairs for invalids.
  • Sporting equipment.

If there is any doubt about a visitor’s intention to take the item out of the country, we may require a cash deposit to cover the duty and GST normally payable. The deposit will be refunded when the goods leave New Zealand.

Goods paid for overseas but not yet received

If you pay for goods while overseas, but receive them after you arrive in New Zealand, no Customs charges will apply if you can produce an appropriately dated receipt, and can prove that the goods qualify for the wearing apparel and personal effects concession.

Genuine personal effects qualify for the concession even if they are unaccompanied.

For example, made-to-measure clothing, which you paid for overseas but was not available at the time of your departure for New Zealand, will not attract duty if you can show valid evidence from the clothing supplier that it has been paid for.

You will also need to show Customs that your travel movements coincided with the date on the invoice.​

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Last updated: Thursday, 12 May 2011