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General FAQs

Some frequently asked questions about the changes.

These FAQs are updated on a regular basis with questions our customers are asking.

What's happening?

The Customs and Excise Act 2018 came into effect on 1 October 2018, replacing the Customs and Excise Act 1996.

What are the main changes to the Act?

Overall, many provisions have been carried over from the 1996 Act, with some changes introduced.

Examples include clarifying powers to examine and access electronic devices, streamlining import and export controls, and introducing more consistent penalties across imports and exports, and other legislation.

To help understand the changes, we've grouped them into three categories: 10 new services and initiatives; changes to existing services; and changes to the Act's sectional references.

Why have the changes been made?

Over the years, the 1996 Act had been amended so many times in response to developments in trade, travel, security and technology, that it became outdated and out of step with modern business practices.

Also, many of the terms and language used in the legislation needed to be modernised.

With the new Act, Customs is better able to respond to progress in technology and business and also enable Customs to better fulfil the vital role it plays for New Zealand in:

  • protecting our border
  • facilitating secure and efficient trade and travel
  • collecting Crown revenue.

Who do the changes affect?

Even though many of the provisions of the current legislation are carried over in the new legislation, there are some changes that will affect customers and people travelling in and out of the country.

Customers including importers, exporters, excise clients and customs brokers and agents will be affected in some way.

How will the changes be implemented?

We provided information through our website, as well as online education material. We're also provided information to industry groups so they can help their own members understand the changes. 

What are the changes to the Act structure?

The structure of the new Act is substantially different. It has gone from 18 parts down to six parts, which has changed all sectional references.

To help people see what the structural changes are, we’ve developed a Comparison Guide that shows the alignment between both Acts, section by section.

The Act also includes 10 new services and initiatives as well as some changes to existing services.

Why is the new infringement scheme starting later?

From 1 October 2018 to 1 April 2019, the petty offences regime will be gone and Customs will use the time to educate people about their obligations under the new Act. On-the-spot warnings will be issued during this time.

The new infringement notice scheme allows for a proportionate response to minor offending.

It is also clear what the infringement fee is - $400 for an individual and $800 for a body corporate.

Where can I get more information?

If you have any queries, please contact us via our Enquiries online form.