Border Clearance Levy

A Border Clearance Levy was introduced on 1 January 2016 by the New Zealand Government to fund border clearance activities.

The levy will form part of the ticket price when you book air travel or a cruise. Private aircraft and yachts will receive an invoice within five working days of arrival.

Further information on the Border Clearance Levy can be found here.

The Cost Recovery Report for the six months to 30 June 2016 is available here.

This description was last updated on: Friday, 10 March 2017

Detailed information related to Border Clearance Levy

A Border Clearance Levy was introduced on 1 January 2016 by the New Zealand Government to fund border clearance activities to help keep New Zealand safe from harmful pests, people and dangerous substances, and maintain current levels of service.

The levy includes GST and is paid by each person arriving and departing New Zealand:

​Arriving by:

  • air or sea          $18.21
  • cruise vessel   $22.66

Departing by:

  • air or sea          $3.37
  • cruise vessel   $3.57

The levy is higher for cruise travel due to additional biosecurity risk assessments for cruise vessels.

The levy is payable by:

  • every passenger travelling on a commercial aircraft or cruise vessel
  • everyone on-board a private aircraft or yacht, including all crew members
  • all re-positioning commercial air crew.

Exemptions from the levy include:

  • children under two years old
  • transit passengers (who do not clear NZ Customs)
  • commercial passenger aircraft and cruise ship crew members
  • anyone who purchased and fully paid for their ticket before 1 January 2016 for travel in 2016
  • Military, diplomatic staff, government crisis workers, and mercantile crew and passengers. 

Further information

Visit the section about the Border Clearance Levy.

This detail was last updated on Wednesday, 27 January 2016

The levy will form part of the ticket price when you book air travel or a cruise – so you do not need to do anything.

Private aircraft and yachts will receive an invoice. The invoice will be emailed to the address provided on the Advance Notice of Arrival (NZCS 340 or NZCS 344) within five working days of your arrival.

Full payment is required by the 20th of the following month.

Within five working days of your departure you will receive an invoice for the departure levy.

Aircraft – if you have a handling agent separate invoices will be generated for the arrival and departure levy and sent to your agent for payment.

Yachts (including super yachts, Greenpeace vessels and non-commercial passenger craft) – pay both the arrival and departure levy to Customs. Alternatively, if you have an agent the invoices can be emailed to them for payment.

Payment options

Payments will only be accepted in New Zealand currency. Please reference the invoice being paid when making a payment.

Online credit card payment

Pay on our secure online payment site using a Visa or MasterCard. Online payments attract a fee of 1.9%, charged and collected by Westpac.

Internet banking – BCL payments

In the bill payments section, search for and select New Zealand Customs Service as the payee. Enter the Customs invoice number (top right hand corner of invoice eg, BCL 4652498) in the ‘Particulars’ field.

Alternatively payments can be paid into the following account:

Account name: ​New Zealand Customs Service
​Account number: ​03-0049-0000706-000
Bank name:
​Westpac Banking Corporation

New Zealand Government Branch
318 Lambton Quay
Wellington
New Zealand

​Swift Code: ​WPACNZ2W
 

DISCLAIMER: Customs is not responsible for clients data input errors (eg, inputting the incorrect bank account number or not entering the correct reference numbers). 

Any Customs office

We accept New Zealand currency, eftpos, Visa or MasterCard.

Click here to find your nearest Customs office.

A Customs credit card convenience fee will apply to credit card payments made to Customs in person, over-the-counter. This fee will appear as a 1.6% (GST inclusive) convenience charge on top of the amount invoiced. This is a cost recovery fee charged by our bank.

Cheque

Send a NZ cheque payable to New Zealand Customs Service, and a copy of the invoice to: New Zealand Customs Service, PO Box 73003, Auckland Airport, Manukau 2150. We accept personal cheques for up to $1,000, however, bank cheques are needed for greater amounts.

Invoicing enquiries

Email bclfinance@customs.govt.nz

Late payments

If payment remains outstanding after the 20th of the following month, an additional levy of 8% of the unpaid amount, plus an additional 2% for each month that the amount remains unpaid, will be charged.

This detail was last updated on Tuesday, 16 February 2016

Why is government imposing a Border Clearance Levy?

Demand for clearance activities for MPI and Customs is increasing annually as a direct result of the number of passengers arriving and departing New Zealand. More passengers mean more risk for New Zealand.

Implementing the Levy will:

  • ensure as far as possible that passengers who generate the costs of border clearance activities (ie, the risk exacerbators) make a fair contribution to these services
  • allow the resourcing of border clearance activities to flex as passenger numbers go up or down
  • mean we can put in the right resources to keep New Zealand safe from harmful pests, people and dangerous substances
  • support the provision of robust border clearance services on a sustainable basis, with minimal impact on passengers.

Who will have to pay the Levy?

All travellers entering and departing from New Zealand by air or sea will pay the levy, unless they are exempt.

Did anything change during consultation?

MPI and Customs met with over 45 separate companies and industry groups including airlines, airports, cruise lines, commercial shipping agent and lines, the tourism sector and primary industries to get feedback on the proposed design and implementation of the Levy.

Information and data collected during consultation meant the approach was amended in several areas, including:

  • Extending the proposed exemptions to include:
    • All crew on NZ licensed commercial passenger aircraft and cruise ships, to be consistent with international charging practices in relation to crew on passenger craft being exempt from paying taxes and levies.
    • All crew and passengers travelling on non-passenger commercial vessels.
    • Travellers on local ships which do not travel outside of the New Zealand’s Exclusive Economic Zone (200 nautical miles) eg, certain service or research ships.
    • People rescued at sea.
    • The collection mechanism was changed from: the proposal of using CAA to collect the Levy from airlines to Customs collecting the Levy on behalf of both agencies.

Who is exempt from paying the Levy?

Those exempt from the Levy are:

  1. A one-off transitional exemption for people who have purchased and fully paid for travel during 2016 before 1 January 2016.
  2. All NZ licensed commercial airline and cruise crew.
  3. Commercial airline passengers and crew in transit.
  4. Children under the age of two years.
  5. All crew and passengers travelling on non-passenger commercial vessels.
  6. Passengers on craft used for the military, diplomatic or ceremonial purposes of any Government.
  7. Travellers on official Antarctic expeditions undertaken by parties to the Antarctica Treaty.
  8. Emergency, humanitarian and crisis response work organised or carried out by any government.
  9. People rescued at sea or who seek temporary relief from stress of weather.
  10. Travellers who depart New Zealand on a journey that is not intended to go beyond the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) and that is not intended to include a meeting with any craft or person entering the EEZ from a point outside New Zealand.
  11. Travellers who arrive in New Zealand following a journey that did not go beyond the EEZ and that did not include a meeting with any craft or person entering the EEZ from a point outside New Zealand.

Passengers who do not disembark (ie, physically leave) from a vessel at any New Zealand port on their voyage (eg, those travelling on a cruise ship) are not liable for the MPI part of the levy.

Will GST be applied to the Levy?

The Border Clearance Levy is subject to GST at 15%.

What are the Levy rates? (How much do I need to pay?)

The rates have been fixed for the first two and half years (from 1 January 2016) at:

ARRIVALS BCL rate, except Cruise ​Cruise rate
​Biosecurity $9.64 ​$14.03
​Customs $8.57​ ​$8.63
​Arrivals Total $18.21 $22.66
 
​DEPARTURES BCL rate, except Cruise ​Cruise rate
​Customs $3.37​ $3.57
​Departures Total $3.37 $3.57


Once this period ends, Customs and MPI will update rates based on expected demand and planned expenditure.

Why is the levy so much lower on departure?

There is no biosecurity screening on departure and Customs departure clearance costs are less than those for arrivals.

Why is the Levy rate higher for cruise ship passengers?

The cost of clearing cruise ships passengers is higher because of the additional biosecurity risk assessments MPI must complete for cruise ships at each port.

The Government has agreed to a provisional arrangement, where the arrival Levy rate is limited to the maximum amount that was consulted on ($22.80 excl. GST). This will last two and half years.

How did you calculate the arrival and departure levies?

The Border Clearance Levy has been calculated on the cost that Customs and the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) incur when assessing travellers and craft entering and departing New Zealand for biosecurity and security risks.

The Levy is higher for cruise travel due to additional biosecurity risk assessments for cruise vessels.

How will the Levy be collected?

Passengers will pay the Levy when they purchase their ticket for travel. Those travelling on private aircraft and yachts will be invoiced by Customs when they arrive and depart.

How will the money collected from the Levy be used and will it benefit the public?

The money collected will be used to maintain and enhance border services to ensure that New Zealand is well protected in the future. It will help keep New Zealand free from harmful pests, people and diseases, criminal activity and security risks as it enables funding for border services to flex as passenger numbers go up or down.

Does the introduction of the Levy mean the crown funding disappears for MPI and Customs?

Eventually yes. Crown funding will ultimately be fully replaced by funding from the Levy but this will take some time. The Levy will be collected for all travel purchased on or after 1 January 2016, unless they are exempt.

Why should passengers foot the bill for the Levy?

Passengers not only present risks to New Zealand’s safety but also expect fast border processing and high quality experiences.

Keeping border processing at a high standard and to manage risk without affecting queuing time has increased costs. It isn’t fair for non-travelling New Zealanders to continue to pay for these services. It is fairer to charge those that create the risk and the need for border clearance services.

Why does the increase in passengers mean extra work and costs?

As well as the sheer increase in passenger volumes, we also have more travellers coming from new and different places, which mean the risk profile of passengers is changing.

As New Zealand expands its travel links with new countries, enters into more free trade agreements, and targets tourism marketing into emerging economies and new markets our economy benefits, but risks change and increase. Consequently, new and higher risk passengers require higher levels of intervention (eg, x-ray screening, detector dog screening, physical inspections), which increases clearance costs.

How big is the increase in passengers coming to New Zealand?

Annual passenger and crew volumes (arriving and departing) are expected to increase to about 13.5 million by 2018/19 from around 11.5 million in 2015. This growth is expected to continue at around 3.5-4% per year.

Arriving air passenger volumes have grown 19 percent in the last five years (from 4.4 million in 2009 to 5.2 million in 2014) and 49 percent in the last ten years.

Cruise NZ forecasts that the total number of cruise ship passengers travelling through New Zealand will rise to 267,000 in the 2015/16 season. This is almost double the number of passengers five years ago (136,000 in the 2010/11 season).

Will the Levy change over time?

The Levy will be reviewed on a regular basis. The first review will take place in 2018.

At that time, MPI and Customs will evaluate if the Levy needs to change to reflect border services being provided and forecasted volumes.

Do other countries charge incoming and departing passengers?

Yes, a number of countries charge passengers including: Australia, United States, United Kingdom, China, Canada and many European countries.

How does our Levy compare with other countries’ charges?

Our Levy will be at the lower end of the scale. The Levy, when combined with existing charges, will be about NZ$20 lower than Australia’s AU$55 (NZ$58) passenger charge and about NZ$102 lower than the United Kingdom’s £71 (NZ$122) long-haul passenger charge.

Why is the Levy not as high as elsewhere?

The BCL charges have been calculated against the actual cost that Customs and MPI incur when clearing travellers for entry into New Zealand. The levy is fixed for 30 months and once this period ends, Customs and MPI will update rates based on expected demand and planned expenditure. The levy will be reviewed in 2018.

How will the Levy impact visitor arrivals and tourism which contribute valuable dollars to our economy?

People will not be put off travelling to New Zealand.

MPI commissioned research through Sapere Research to understand the possible effects on international traveller numbers due to a ticket price increase by introducing a levy.

This report did not take into account any other factors which influence traveller’s decisions. The report confirms a relatively low level of potential impact, particularly when combined with other factors that may also affect traveller’s choices, such as exchange rate changes, and economic conditions in other markets. It is likely that these factors would be more significant than price increases for passengers’ decisions on whether to visit New Zealand.

As a cruise ship passenger, do I need to pay the levy if I never leave the ship when it visits New Zealand?

Passengers who do not disembark from a vessel at any New Zealand port on their voyage are not liable for the MPI part of the levy. All Customs-related charges in the levy still apply.

What is MPI and Customs doing to keep pace with the growing traveller numbers?

MPI and Customs have introduced a number of improvements to manage growing traveller numbers:

  • Expanding the number of the automated SmartGates.
  • More detector dogs.
  • Shared use of facilities and cross-warranting of staff.
  • Biosecurity awareness raising activities.
  • Enhanced profiling and targeting of risk passengers.
  • Working with cruise ship operators to pre-clear passengers.
  • Reducing operating costs through major change and continuous improvement projects.

 

Frequently Asked Questions for travellers on private yachts, private aircraft, and small craft:

How do we pay the Border Clearance Levy (BCL) on line?

You can use a credit or debit card (MasterCard or Visa) or bill pay function within the New Zealand online banking system or directly into the bank account via internet banking into bank account: 03-0049-0000706-00 to pay for the levy.

NOTE: Reference the invoice number when paying the levy.

Some credit card/ bank charges may apply.

Who pays the Levy?

The skipper, pilot or agent for the yacht or aircraft is responsible for collecting the Levy for all liable non-exempt travellers on the craft, including crew or other passengers. The skipper, pilot or agent is responsible for paying collected levy monies as part of an invoice provided by Customs.

Who pays for yacht crew flying on a commercial airline to meet the yacht?

The levy will be part of the traveller’s ticket when it is purchased.

Can I pay in advance?

No. We will issue you an invoice for payment.

When do I need to pay?

The invoice must be paid by the 20th of the month following the month in which the invoice is received and payment can be made by credit card, internet banking or cash.

If payment remains outstanding after the 20th of the following month, an additional levy of 8% of the unpaid amount, plus an additional 2% for each month that the amount remains unpaid, will be charged.

If we don’t pay will it affect our immigration status?

No, non-payment will be become a civil debt collection matter and will not affect the immigration process.

When do Customs require the Advance Notice of Departure? (AND) Form C2B

The AND is required no less than four hours before departure, but it can be provided once the departure date and passengers are confirmed. Once Customs receives this then the invoice can be generated upon departure and sent to your email account. Please use the invoice number as your reference on payment.

Do passengers travelling to service or maintain an aircraft have to pay the Levy?

Yes. All passengers on scheduled aircraft must pay the Levy, unless they are exempt.

Are New Zealand Defence Force flights to/from Antarctica exempt from the levy?

All defence force flights are exempt. So are all craft used for an official expedition to Antarctica of a party to the Antarctica Treaty.

Are research vessels carrying passengers exempt?

This depends on the circumstances. If the research vessel meets the definition of ‘non-passenger commercial craft’, all passengers and crew on it will be exempt. A non-passenger commercial craft is one:

  • the purposes of which do not relate wholly or primarily to passengers; and
  • the business of which is wholly commercial; and
  • on which no passengers are being carried or on which passengers are being carried only as an incidental part of the business of the craft.

In addition, passengers and crew are also exempt if they depart from (or return to) New Zealand on a craft that has not gone beyond the outer limits of New Zealand’s EEZ, and has not interacted with a craft that has come from beyond the EEZ.

Are ice breakers carrying passengers and scientists to Antarctica exempt?

No, not if it is on a voyage primarily for the purpose of carrying paying passengers, or if it is a recreational, non-commercial voyage.

Travellers on private ice breakers are exempt as if they are classed as a non-passenger commercial craft. Government ice breakers on an official expedition would be exempt.

Do vessels purchased, built, or sent offshore for repairs have to pay the levy?

This depends on the circumstances. The vessel may be exempt as a non-passenger commercial craft, when:

  • the purposes of which do not relate wholly or primarily to passengers; and
  • the business is wholly commercial; and
  • no passengers are being carried, or passengers are being carried only as part of the business of the craft.

Are rigs and seismic survey vessels exempt from the levy?

This depends on the circumstances. The vessel may be exempt as non-passenger commercial craft, when:

  • the purposes of which do not relate wholly or primarily to passengers; and
  • the business is wholly commercial; and
  • no passengers are being carried, or passengers are being carried only as part of the business of the craft.

Are fishing vessels that operate beyond New Zealand’s territorial waters exempt?

Yes. Fishing vessels are non-passenger commercial craft.

Do yachts arriving in New Zealand seeking relief from bad weather have to pay the levy?

No. Vessels seeking temporary relief from the stress of weather are exempt. To be exempt from the departure Levy, they must also depart as soon as reasonably practical.

Are craft returning to New Zealand due to medical emergencies, technical issues exempt from paying the arrival levy?

Yes, only if they have not travelled beyond New Zealand’s Exclusive Economic Zone (200 nautical miles) before returning to New Zealand.

Will the travellers on the returning craft be liable for the departure component of the levy?

Yes.

Travellers are liable for the departure levy if they intend to depart New Zealand, unless they have sought relief from bad weather and are departing as soon as reasonably practicable.

Can you waive the Levy?

Customs is obligated to issue an invoice for levy payment.

This detail was last updated on Tuesday, 15 March 2016