Prohibited imports

The importation of a limited number of goods is prohibited outright – for example, objectionable publications and certain dog tracking collars – and approval cannot be given to import them. Others may be allowed in if you have the required approval to import. Approval to import must be obtained before these goods are brought into New Zealand.

The following information will present a general overview of prohibited and restricted items, give some specific examples, and provide links to further information.

Use the category filter to find the specific area of prohibited imports that interests you.​

This description was last updated on: Monday, 12 May 2014 .

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Purpose of prohibition:

​The importation of prescription medicines is controlled by the Ministry of Health under the Medicines Act 1981.

Personal imports (accompanying a traveller)

If you arrive in New Zealand carrying prescription medicine on your person or in your luggage you may only bring it in if you:

  • Declare the medicine on your Passenger Arrival Card.
  • Have a copy of the medicine’s prescription or a letter from your doctor stating that you are being treated with the medicine.
  • Have the medicine in its original pharmacy container, with your name on the label, and strength and dosage details clearly stated.
  • Have no more than three months supply (oral contraceptives, where a six month supply is permitted, are the exception).

Having medicines sent from overseas

If you are having medicine sent to you from overseas you will need to prove to the Ministry of Health that you have a reasonable excuse for the importation.

In most cases the Ministry of Health will be satisfied a reasonable excuse has been established when the importer presents, either:

  • an original letter from a New Zealand authorised prescriber (doctor, dentist, midwife or nurse prescriber) or
  • an original prescription from a New Zealand authorised prescriber (doctor, dentist, midwife or nurse prescriber).

Commercial imports

To import medicines for commercial purposes, that is, to import medicines for other than personal use by the person importing, you must either:

  • hold a licence issued by the Ministry of Health pursuant to the Medicines Act 1981 that would allow you to sell, supply or distribute medicines of this nature; or
  • be entitled under the Medicines Act 1981 to an exemption from such licensing and have been granted consent by the Minister of Health to sell, supply or distribute the medicine eg, a medical doctor.

Further information

Further information regarding the importation of medicines can be obtained either at www.medsafe.govt.nz, or telephone +64 9 580 9141.

Please also refer to:

Fact sheet 5
Fact sheet 9

Legislation:

The importation of prescription medicines is controlled by the Ministry of Health under the Medicines Act 1981; and the Misuse of Drugs Act 1975.

Authority: Ministry of Health

Last updated: Wednesday, 14 December 2011

Purpose of prohibition:

​The increasing volume of trade and travel is placing extra pressure on our biosecurity systems. New pests and diseases can not only have an impact on human health but can also damage agriculture and horticultural production, forestry and tourism, and trade in international markets.

Persons arriving in New Zealand

The following classes of goods must be declared to the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI):

  • Food of any kind.
  • Plants or parts of plants (alive or dead).
  • Animals (alive or dead) or their products.
  • Equipment used with animals.
  • Equipment such as camping gear, golf clubs, and used bicycles.
  • Biological specimens.

Travellers who fill out the Biosecurity/Quarantine section of the Passenger Arrival Card incorrectly risk an instant fine of $400.

More than that, you could be fined up to $100,000, or get a prison term of up to five years, for serious breaches of New Zealand's biosecurity laws.

Customs is unable to answer any questions that relate to agricultural or biosecurity items eg, the types of foods you can bring into New Zealand. For this information you must contact the Ministry for Primary Industries.

Agricultural items and foods imported into New Zealand

Customs assists MPI by having alerts on its computer system against the tariff items in The Working Tariff Document of New Zealand and for a wide range of goods such as, animals, plants, dairy products etc which require biosecurity and/or food safety approval to be imported.

The tariff items for the goods that require approval are set out in the Customs Import Permit list. Those requiring:

  • Biosecurity clearance are prefixed by codes MAF and MUD/MAF.
  • Food safety clearances are prefixed by the code FSA.

Further information on agricultural requirements can be obtained by:

Further information on food requirements can be obtained from the www.foodsafety.govt.nz website.

Please refer to Customs Fact Sheets below:

Legislation:Biosecurity Act 1993; Food Act 1981

Authority: Ministry for Primary Industries

Last updated: Monday, 24 November 2014

Purpose of prohibition:

New Zealand is a signatory to a number of international protocols and conventions which are aimed at conserving animals.​

For the purposes of conservation there are controls on the importing of the Antarctic toothfish and Patagonian toothfish into New Zealand.

For further information see Customs Fact Sheet 5 and Fact Sheet 9 or the Ministry for Primary Industries website www.fish.govt.nz.

Legislation:

​Their importation is prohibited under Customs Import Prohibition (Toothfish) Order 2009 unless the importer has a valid catch document.

Authority: Ministry for Primary Industries

Last updated: Monday, 18 June 2012

Purpose of prohibition:

The Anthrax Prevention Regulations 1987 were revoked with effect from 3 November 2011. Approval is now only required from the Ministry for Primary Industries to import brushes that contain animal hair or bristle, such as hair brushes.

Legislation:

Authority: Ministry for Primary Industries

Last updated: Monday, 18 June 2012

Purpose of prohibition:

New Zealand is a signatory to a number of international protocols and conventions, aimed at protecting the environment. This includes controlling the import from New Zealand of chemical weapons and chemicals that may be used in the manufacture of chemical weapons.

For further information see www.mfat.govt.nz or contact MFAT on exportcontrols@mfat.govt.nz or go to chemicals that require approval to import and export

Legislation:

Approval is required from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, under the Chemical Weapons (Prohibition) Act 1996, to import chemical weapons and these chemicals.

Authority: Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade

Last updated: Thursday, 20 March 2014

Purpose of prohibition:

​New Zealand has strict controls on the importation for sale of tobacco which is suitable for chewing, or any other oral use other than smoking.

Legislation:

​There is an absolute prohibition in the Smoke-Free Environments Act 1990 on the importation for sale of tobacco which is suitable for chewing, or any other oral use other than smoking. Approval to import cannot be given to import chewing tobacco for sale.

Authority: Ministry of Health

Last updated: Wednesday, 14 December 2011

Purpose of prohibition:

One of the purposes of the Human Assisted Reproductive Technology Act 2004 is to prohibit unacceptable practices such as human cloning for reproductive purposes and commercial surrogacy.

To achieve this, the Act provides that Customs may detain cloned or hybrid human embryos and their containers, and transfer them to the Ministry of Health.

For further information see Customs Fact Sheet 4 and Fact Sheet 5.

Legislation:

Authority: Ministry of Health

Last updated: Wednesday, 14 December 2011

Purpose of prohibition:

​The importation of controlled drugs, such as pseudoephedrine and methadone, and products that contain these substances is prohibited unless you have a licence to import from the Ministry of Health, or you are covered by the exemption outlined below.

Private persons

Do not attempt to smuggle controlled drugs into New Zealand. The importation of such drugs could result in your imprisonment. Be cautious about carrying packages or baggage for strangers.

If you arrive in New Zealand carrying controlled drugs on you or in your luggage (methadone for example), you may import it provided that you:

  • Declare the controlled drugs on your passenger arrival card.
  • Do not have more than one month’s supply of the controlled drug with you – if you have more you will need a licence to import from the Ministry of Health.
  • Prove to Customs that the drug:
    • is required for treating your medical condition
    • has been  lawfully supplied to you in the country of origin – a letter from your doctor or a valid label on the container with your name and the quantity and strength of the drugs would be sufficient.

Commercial imports

A licence to import from the Ministry of Health is needed to import controlled drugs into New Zealand.

Further information regarding the importation of controlled drugs can be obtained from the Ministry of Health at www.health.govt.nz or by phoning +64 4 819 6855.

Cannabis and methamphetamine utensils

There is an absolute prohibition – and approval cannot be given – on the importation of certain drug taking equipment. This prohibition extends to include parts of any cannabis or methamphetamine utensil.

Cannabis utensils

  • Bongs
  • Hash pipes.

Providing the pipe displays one or more (this provision applies to each of the above instruments) of the following prohibited features: 

  • more than 2 holes
  • more than 1 inhalation hose or breathing port
  • provision for cooling smoke by drawing the smoke through water
  • a metal, glass, or ceramic bowl
  • an insertion placed in a bowl that is a gauze, wire mesh, screen, or insertion made of material that is not designed or intended to be burnt or dissolved in the bowl
  • Roach clips with a pincer or tweezer action if they depict cannabis fruit, cannabis seed, or any part of the cannabis plant, or what could reasonably be taken to be a depiction of cannabis fruit, cannabis seed, or any part of a cannabis plant.

Methamphetamine utensils

For further information please see Fact Sheet 5.

Legislation:Misuse of Drugs Act 1975

Authority: Ministry of Health

Last updated: Monday, 12 May 2014

Purpose of prohibition:

​Certain dog-tracking devices are illegal in New Zealand because they operate on the same radio frequencies as equipment used by people travelling and working in rural areas, such as forestry workers, Department of Conservation rangers, or search and rescue crew. This spectrum is licensed to those operators and must not be used by other devices. 

Legislation:

​A new Radiocommunications Regulations (Prohibited Equipment – Dog Tracking Devices) Notice 2012 which came into effect from 1 March 2012, prohibits the importation of radio equipment (and their parts) used for, or with the primary purpose of being used for, tracking or locating dogs or other animals that operate in the frequencies 151.820 MHz, 151.880 MHz, 151.940 MHz, 154.570 MHz and 154.600 MHz, including, but not limited to, the following makes and models operating within these frequencies:

  1. Garmin Alpha 100
  2. Garmin Astro 220 system
  3. Garmin Astro 320 system
  4. Garmin DC 20 collar
  5. Garmin DC 30 collar
  6. Garmin DC 40 collar
  7. SportDOG TEK equipment

Before you buy, be sure to check whether the device may be imported and is acceptable for use in New Zealand and authorised for a radio licence. For more information, check the Ministry of Business, Innovation & Employment's Radio Spectrum website or call their free helpline 0508 RSM INFO (0508 776 463).

Authority: Ministry of Business, Innovation & Employment - Radio Spectrum

Last updated: Friday, 09 August 2013

Purpose of prohibition:

​New Zealand has strict rules governing the importation of animals. Some breeds of dog may not be imported at all.

Prohibited breeds

The following breeds of dog may not be brought into New Zealand:

  • American Pit Bull Terrier.
  • Brazilian Fila.
  • Dogo Argentino.
  • Japanese Tosa
  • Perro de Presa Canario.

The prohibition includes any embryo, ova or semen from these breeds.

Other breeds 

To import other breeds of dogs, or the semen or embryos of a dog into New Zealand, the importer or their agent will need to provide the New Zealand Customs Service with:

  • a declaration (available from Customs) which is to be made in New Zealand, stating that, to the best of their knowledge and belief, the dog, embryo, or semen is not one of the above breeds; and
  • a certificate from a registered veterinarian in the country of export stating that after due enquiry and/or physical examination of the dog, they have no reason to doubt the owners/importers advice that the dog, embryo, or semen is not one of the above breeds or types of dogs. This certificate is included in the MPI Animal Health Standard form.

For further information on the importation of dogs and other domestic pets, including any charges, refer to Domestic animal imports and Fact sheet 28A – Clearance of cats and dogs.

Legislation:Dog Control Act 1996

Authority: Department of Internal Affairs

Last updated: Monday, 03 September 2012

Purpose of prohibition:

​The Trade in Endangered Species Act 1989 allows New Zealand to fulfil its international obligations under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES).

CITES is designed to regulate trade in endangered, threatened, or exploited species. It covers live plants and animals, as well as products made from them – such as those listed below – which can only be imported into New Zealand with the required approval.

Goods that require both import and export approvals:

  • Medicines that contain bear, tiger, turtle, musk, Aucklandia root, etc.
  • Any elephant items, including ivory jewellery, carvings, tusks, etc.
  • Any whale/cetacean items, such as whalebone carvings, dolphin teeth, etc.
  • Big cat skins or coats.
  • Any item made from turtle meat or marine turtle shell.
  • Many big game hunting trophies.
  • Some orchids and cycads.

If you are in any doubt, please check with the Department of Conservation before importing or exporting any endangered species item.

Department of Conservation www.doc.govt.nz/cites
Phone +64 9 307 9279, +64 4 471 0726, or +64 3 371 3700.

For further information please refer to Customs Fact sheet 5 and Fact sheet 9.

Legislation:

​The Trade in Endangered Species Act 1989.

Authority: Department of Conservation

Last updated: Friday, 15 April 2011

Purpose of prohibition:

New Zealand has strict controls on the importation of explosives.

Import permits for all explosives, including fireworks, are issued by the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) and must be presented to Customs. The range of explosives includes items such as:

  • Fireworks.
  • Detonators.
  • Gunpowder.
  • Smokeless powders.
  • TNT.
  • Propellants.
  • Igniters.
  • Safety fuses.
  • Flares.
  • Model rocket engines.
  • Bombs, grenades, torpedoes, mines, missiles, and similar munitions of war that contain an explosive charge.
  • Flares used in Japanese motor vehicles.

The obligation is on importers to establish that the substances they are importing do not fall within the scope of the Hazardous Substances and New Organisms (HSNO) Act 1996. If you are in any doubt you should contact EPA:

Environmental Protection Authority
Telephone: 0800 376 234
Email: hsinfo@epa.govt.nz
Website: www.epa.govt.nz

Legislation:Hazardous Substances and New Organisms (HSNO) Act 1996

Authority: Environmental Protection Authority

Last updated: Friday, 01 July 2011

Purpose of prohibition:

​In order to protect New Zealand consumers from unsafe and incorrectly specified merchandise there are various controls on the importation of a number of goods.

Goods bearing a label or other form of identification which contains a false or misleading representation as to their quality and country of origin are prohibited imports.

For further information see the Commerce Commission website or contact Customs on 0800 428 786.

Legislation:Fair Trading Act 1986

Authority: Ministry of Consumer Affairs

Last updated: Wednesday, 18 May 2011

Purpose of prohibition:

​With a view to fulfilling our international environmental obligations, and to preserving and protecting our own environment from toxic and hazardous effects, New Zealand has strict controls on the importation of a wide range of hazardous substances.

Hazardous Substances 

Under the Hazardous Substances and New Organisms (HSNO) Act 1996, a hazardous substance means any substance that has one or more of the following hazardous properties:
  • Explosiveness (eg fireworks)
  • Flammability (eg fuels, solvents)
  • A capacity to oxidise (eg peroxides, hypochlorites)
  • Corrosiveness (eg acids, ammonia)
  • Toxicity (eg pesticides, some industrial chemicals)
  • Ecotoxicity (eg pesticides, chemicals, oils).

Items covered by the HSNO Act

Hazardous substances, as defined above, are covered by the HSNO Act 1996. These include pure chemicals as well as products such as glues, paints, pesticides, regardless of how they are packaged or presented.

In addition, manufactured articles that include or incorporate any kind of explosive substance are considered 'hazardous substances' and thus covered by the HSNO Act.

Asbestos

Raw asbestos does not currently have a HSNO approval. As such, it is not allowed to be imported into New Zealand. If you wish to import raw asbestos into New Zealand, you will need to make an application to the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA). Please contact the EPA for advise on this process.

For detailed information on the import of hazardous substances go to:

 

The obligation is on importers to establish that the substances they are importing do not fall within the scope of the Hazardous Substances and New Organisms (HSNO) Act 1996. If you are in any doubt you should contact the EPA:  

Environmental Protection Authority
Telephone: 0800 376 234

Email: hsinfo@epa.govt.nz
Website: www.epa.govt.nz

Legislation:Hazardous Substances and New Organisms (HSNO) Act 1996

Authority: Environmental Protection Authority

Last updated: Friday, 01 July 2011

Purpose of prohibition:

​The importation of hazardous wastes is covered by the Basel Convention – such as used automotive batteries, e-waste (old electrical equipment, computers, printers and TVs), waste oil – requires approval from the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) under Imports and Exports (Restrictions) Prohibition Order (No. 2) 2004.

For further information see www.epa.govt.nz

Legislation: Imports and Exports (Restrictions) Prohibition Order (No. 2) 2004

Authority: Environmental Protection Authority

Last updated: Friday, 01 July 2011

Purpose of prohibition:

​From 1 March 2014, hand-held high power laser pointers will be prohibited to import without a consent from the Ministry of Health. This consent must be issued before the goods arrive in New Zealand. This includes high power laser pointers brought into the country by travellers.

The restriction refers to hand-held laser pointers with a power output of more than 1 milliwatt (the colour of the beam is unimportant). The importer must be able to produce proof (label or otherwise) that the laser is not high power. The restriction does not cover laser distance measuring devices, surveying devices, rescue flares, and devices with attachments for mounting on a rifle. 

Also effective from 1 March 2014 are Health regulations prohibiting the sale, supply or acquisition of hand-held high power laser pointers in New Zealand except under certain circumstances. 

More information on these new controls on import, sale, supply, and acquisition, and how to obtain a consent, can be found on the Ministry of Health website.

Legislation:Customs Import Prohibition (High-power Laser Pointers) Order 2013

Authority: Ministry of Health

Last updated: Friday, 28 February 2014

Purpose of prohibition:

For the purposes of conserving animal species, there are controls on importing marine mammals, and parts of marine mammals, into New Zealand – for example, seals, whales, dolphins and porpoises.

For further information see www.doc.govt.nz.

Legislation:

Marine Mammals Protection Act 1978.

Authority: Department of Conservation

Last updated: Friday, 13 May 2011

Purpose of prohibition:

Border Cash Report

Anyone carrying NZ$10,000 or more (or foreign equivalent) in cash on their person or in their baggage, into or out of New Zealand, must complete a Border Cash Report as part of their entry or clearance procedures.

Cash means physical currency, bearer-negotiable instruments, or both.

A bearer-negotiable instrument means:

  • A bill of exchange.
  • A cheque.
  • A promissory note.
  • A bearer bond.
  • A traveller’s cheque.
  • A money order, postal order, or similar order.
  • Any instrument prescribed by regulations under the Act.

This legislation does not prohibit the import or export of cash sums of NZ$10,000 or more – it simply requires that these sums are reported. 

False, misleading or non-reporting of cash may result in its forfeiture and a fine.

For further information on border cash reporting, including penalties, refer to Customs Fact sheet 13.

Legislation:

​The Anti-Money Laundering and Countering Financing of Terrorism Act 2009 requires a report to be completed by every person who moves NZ$10,000 or more in cash into or out of New Zealand.

Authority: New Zealand Police

Last updated: Friday, 15 April 2011

Purpose of prohibition:

In order to protect New Zealand consumers from unsafe and incorrectly specified merchandise there are various controls on the importation of a number of goods.

Motor vehicles with an odometer reading which does not correctly record the distance the vehicle has been driven are prohibited imports – as are motor vehicles imported without an odometer.

For further information contact Customs on 0800 428 786.

Legislation:Customs Import Prohibition Order 2014; and Customs and Excise Act 1996

Authority: Ministry of Consumer Affairs

Last updated: Friday, 10 October 2014

Purpose of prohibition:

​Any material or publication which might be considered objectionable must be declared on arrival in New Zealand.

The definition of publication includes – but is not limited to – films, videos, computer games, DVDs, CD-ROMs, books, posters, music recordings, magazines, photographs, paintings, t-shirts and computer files.

A publication is objectionable if it describes, depicts, expresses or otherwise deals with matters such as sex, horror, crime, cruelty or violence in such a manner that the availability of the publication is likely to be injurious to the public good.

Objectionable publications are prohibited imports and will be seized.

For further information please see Customs Fact sheet 5.

Legislation:

Section 54 Customs and Excise Act 1996.

Publications imported into New Zealand are subject to the provisions of the Films, Videos, and Publications Classification Act 1993.

Authority: New Zealand Customs Service

Last updated: Friday, 15 April 2011

Purpose of prohibition:

With a view to fulfilling our international environmental obligations, and to preserving and protecting our own environment. New Zealand has strict controls on the importation of a wide range of ozone depleting substances.

Approval from the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) is required under the Ozone Layer Protection Act 1996 to import these goods:

  • CFCs, halons, carbon tetrachloride, methyl chloroform, methyl bromide, HCFCs and HBFCs. 
  • Goods containing ozone depleting substances – such as, aerosols; dehumidifiers, refrigerators, freezers, air conditioners, supermarket display cases, heat pumps and water coolers that contain CFCs; dry cleaning machines; fire extinguishers containing or designed to contain halons, and plastic foams manufactured using CFCs.

For further information see Customs Fact sheet 3 and the EPA website www.epa.govt.nz

Legislation:Ozone Layer Protection Act 1996

Authority: Environmental Protection Authority

Last updated: Friday, 01 July 2011

Purpose of prohibition:

​With a view to fulfilling our international environmental obligations, and to preserving and protecting our own environment from toxic and hazardous effects, New Zealand has strict controls on the importation of a wide range of hazardous substances.

Import permits are required for Persistent organic pollutants (POPs) covered by the Stockholm Convention, for example, aldrin, chlordane, dieldrin, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs).

Anyone wishing to import a POP covered by the Stockholm Convention must obtain prior approval from the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA).

The obligation is on importers to establish that the substances they are importing do not fall within the scope of the Hazardous Substances and New Organisms (HSNO) Act 1996. If you are in any doubt you should contact the EPA:

Environmental Protection Authority
Telephone: 0800 376 234
Email: hsinfo@epa.govt.nz
Website: www.epa.govt.nz

Legislation:Hazardous Substances and New Organisms (HSNO) Act 1996

Authority: Environmental Protection Authority

Last updated: Friday, 01 July 2011

Purpose of prohibition:

​To preserve and protect New Zealanders and our own environment from toxic and hazardous effects, New Zealand has strict controls on the importation of a wide range of hazardous substances.

Import permits are required for Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), children's crayons, finger paints, and watercolour paints.

These permits are issued by the Auckland Regional Public Health Service, telephone +64 9 623 4600 – under delegated authority from Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) New Zealand.

The obligation is on importers to establish that the substances they are importing do not fall within the scope of the Hazardous Substances and New Organisms (HSNO) Act 1996. If you are in any doubt you should contact EPA:

Environmental Protection Authority 
Telephone: 0800 376 234
Email: hsinfo@epa.govt.nz
Website: www.epa.govt.nz

Legislation:Hazardous Substances and New Organisms (HSNO) Act 1996

Authority: Environmental Protection Authority

Last updated: Friday, 24 February 2012

Purpose of prohibition:

A radio jammer is an electronic device that deliberately disrupts or jams reception of radio signals including cell phones and GPS.

Legislation:

It is illegal under the Radiocommunications Regulations (Prohibited Equipment – Radio Jammer Equipment) Notice 2011 to import, manufacture, sell or use a radio jammer in New Zealand except with a licence issued by the Ministry of Economic Development.

For more information contact the Ministry’s free helpline 0508 RSM INFO (0508 776 463).

Authority: Ministry of Economic Development

Last updated: Friday, 24 February 2012

Purpose of prohibition:

With a view to fulfilling our international obligations, and to preserving and protecting our own environment from toxic and hazardous effects, New Zealand has strict controls on the importation of radioactive material. 

Legislation:

Approval is required from the National Radiation Laboratory, a Division of the Ministry of Health, under the Radiation Protection Act 1965 to import radioactive material.  ​

Authority: National Radiation Laboratory, a Division of the Ministry of Health

Last updated: Friday, 13 May 2011