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Official Information Act requests

The Official Information Act 1982 is designed to make government activities more open and transparent to the public.

The Official Information Act 1982, also known as the OIA, is an important tool and safeguard in New Zealand’s democracy.

We're committed to complying with the purposes, principle and requirements of the Act. We make the official information that we hold as a government agency available to the public, unless there is good reason for withholding it.

Making our official information available to the public enables more effective participation in our country’s democracy, promotes accountability, enhances respect for the law, and promotes the good government of New Zealand. Equally, withholding our official information is important when it is in the public interest to protect the information or necessary to preserve personal privacy.

A copy of the Official Information Act 1982 can be found on the Office of the Parliamentary Counsel website.

More information about how the OIA operates can be found on the Office of the Ombudsman website.

Responses to OIA requests

As part of our commitment to open and transparent government we regularly publish responses for general, media and other OIAs after the requestor has received their response from us.

The reply letter from us to the requestor explains what information, if any, has been withheld under the OIA and under which grounds. The requestor's name and address are removed.

Documents are only available in Adobe PDF format and are listed in release date order, with the most recently released responses at the top.

Information that Customs holds

The Ministry of Justice publishes a directory of official information to assist members of the public to effectively exercise their rights under the OIA. The directory assists people by providing a detailed picture of the structure of central government departments and organisations, and by enabling people to find out exactly where their requests for information should be made. A copy of the directory that provides information about us can be found on the Ministry of Justice website. Much of the information that is contained in the directory of official information can also be found on our website, including information about the legislation we administer, our functions and responsibilities, and our structure.

We hold information in both electronic and paper-based recording systems. This information includes records associated with our functions and activities, along with supporting material such as legislation, forms, policies and procedures, working information, reports and publications, and organisational management material.

Many decision-making processes operated by us are contained in policies, procedures and working information (which forms guidelines) that are held electronically in the organisation. Example, Internal Process Checklist for Customs OIA Requests (DOC 163 KB) and OIA proactive release guidelines (PDF 538 KB).

We have a range of publications many of which are also available on this website, including: operational policy documents; corporate documents, such as the Annual Reports; external reports/research; and briefings to the incoming Minister. We also publish on our website Cabinet material, important notices and media releases, responses to OIA requests, and statistics for the interceptions of drugs and goods. Importantly, on our website we also explain the personal and Customs information that we collect from people and companies, and how people can request their travel movement information.

Making an OIA request

If you wish to make a request for information held by us you can email us, write to us, call us or complete the online form.

We will to respond to you as soon as reasonably practicable, and in any case not later than 20 working days after the day on which the request was received.

Please note that if your request is for a substantial amount of information or if gathering the information will require significant resources, there may be a charge or we may refuse to provide the information because it cannot be made available without substantial collation or research.

If we propose to impose a charge, we will let you know what information is available and advise you of any charge before we proceed with your request. Any charge set will be in line with the Ministry of Justice Charging Guidelines (currently set at $38 per half hour after the first hour).

The type of information we hold includes statistical information on:

  • drug, weapon and counterfeit item interceptions
  • the number of arriving and departing travellers using eGate 
  • the number of transactions through the Trade Single Window
  • the amount of excise tax paid 
  • the amount of revenue we collect on goods imported into NZ
  • internal reports on projects and programmes of work
  • information on our detector dogs and the drugs and cash they find
  • information relating to the movement of both people and goods across the border.

OIA Statistics

We publish quarterly statistics on the number of OIA requests we have received and responded to within OIA timeframes.

View the OIA statistics for 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020 and 2021.

Making a complaint

You can make a complaint to the Office of the Ombudsman if you have concerns regarding the way an OIA request was treated or processed by us. Those concerns can relate to the refusal to provide information, the breach of a statutory timeframe, the decision to extend a timeframe or impose a charge, or the imposition of conditions on the release of information.

The Ombudsman’s role is to investigate and review our decisions. The Ombudsman does not release the withheld information itself but may issue a recommendation to us to release the information if the Ombudsman considers release appropriate.