Customs clearance

Once your goods arrive in New Zealand they will need to be cleared by Customs. The process involves a number of people: you or your customs broker; the shipping company, agent or freight forwarder; the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI); and of course Customs itself.

Customs' initial clearance is done using the import entry clearance or electronic cargo information (ECI), so you need to make sure these are filled in correctly and fully. We may examine the goods either in the warehouse or on the port.

If there are any queries we will contact either you, your customs broker, the shipping company, your agent, or the freight forwarder.

In some cases your goods may be detained or seized and we will issue you with written notice if this is the case.

We will also check that all duties and charges have been accounted for before releasing the goods  to you.

If the goods require quarantine or security checks MPI will be responsible for these.

Customs itself does not generally hold your goods physically. Your agent or whoever you have used to import the goods will retain them until they have been cleared.

You, your customs broker, agent, shipping company, or freight forwarder will then be contacted so that arrangements can be made for the goods to be uplifted.

You will be issued with a Customs delivery order which you will need in order to collect your goods.

This description was last updated on: Friday, 06 July 2012

Detailed information related to Customs clearance

When your goods are cleared you or your customs broker, agent or freight forwarder will receive an electronic delivery order from our online declarations website or through Electronic Data Interchange (EDI).

You will need the delivery order to collect your goods from the freight forwarder, shipping agent or whomever you have used to transport your goods.

This detail was last updated on Monday, 14 March 2011

Detained goods

Sometimes your goods may be detained. This might be because:

  • we require more information
  • there is a need for the goods to be examined
  • there is duty owing
  • an investigation into breaches of the Customs and Excise Act 1996 has occurred.

We will advise you in writing of the reason.

If the goods are cleared, you can uplift them as normal. If there is a breach relating to the goods, they may be forfeit and subject to seizure.

Forfeited goods

This is a legal term that means the title of those goods moves to the Crown if they are in breach of the law. In the case of forfeited imports, this will be because there has been a breach of the Customs and Excise Act 1996 relating to those goods. Forfeiture occurs automatically, as soon as the law is broken, even if Customs or the authorities are unaware that any breach has yet taken place.

Seized goods

Forfeited goods may be seized by Customs. If goods are seized, Customs takes possession of them on behalf of the Crown. You will receive a notice of seizure, detailing why your goods have been seized and explaining how you can apply to have them returned to you. You will still be liable for duty on the goods.

Review process

If your goods are seized you may write to Customs' Chief Executive explaining why you believe you should have them back. Detailed information on how to do this will be included with the seizure notice.

This detail was last updated on Monday, 12 March 2012