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Changes to services and requirements

The new Act updates several services and requirements.

What you need to know

You need to understand what's changed and how that affects you and your business.

Change Description
Customs-controlled areas (CCAs)
CCA fit and proper person People, and key personnel within an organisation, must prove they are a ‘fit and proper person’ when applying for a Customs-controlled area licence. More info
Human remains The Act clarifies that human remains are to be entered in the same way as goods being imported or exported. However, new regulations will make it clear that human remains that are imported or exported for burial or cremation are exempted from entry requirements. More info
Prohibited goods or exports Import and export controls can now be made for digital goods as well as other goods. There are also some technical changes to how goods in general are prohibited.
Valuation - last sale A new method now applies for deciding the correct Customs value of imported goods. This value is based on the price from the last sale that occurs immediately before the goods enter New Zealand. More info
Penalties, fines and fees
Update penalty levels - new and maximum penalty rates There are changes to penalties for 26 of the 51 offences outlined in the Act. Most of the changes are an increase in the maximum fine that applies. Some changes introduce different penalties  for an individual and a body corporate. More info
Collect, disclose and store information
Biometric information The new Act is explicit about Customs’ ability to collect, use and disclose biometric information. Customs can also now collect fingerprints and iris scans as well as photographs of a person’s head and shoulders. 
Information disclosure of external parties The Act clarifies the type of information that Customs can share with other parties and the circumstances in which it can be shared.
Passenger Name Records (PNR) The new Act updates the provisions for collection and use of PNRs to reflect international best practice. 
Limitation period for offences The time a charge can be laid for an offences under the Act has been clarified, and  has been reduced to four years from the time the offence was committed. However, for 21 specified offences under the Act the limitation period is now consistent with the Criminal Procedure Act 2011 and ranges from six months for lesser offences to no limitation for serious offences. More info
Directing departing craft A Customs officer has the power to order a vessel to leave New Zealand. This is largely a technical change that clarifies an existing power. 
Powers in the contiguous zone A Customs officer’s contiguous zone powers have been clarified and expanded to ensure they reflect the range of interventions that may be needed. 
Authorised persons The Chief Executive of Customs can authorise a class of suitably trained people, such as the Defence Force or Police, to exercise the functions or powers of a Customs officer in specific limited circumstances.
Appointment of Customs officers The Act confirms the mechanism and processes for appointment of Customs officers. 
Electronic notices The Act clarifies that electronic notices, issued as a lawful instrument, can be sent to registered JBMS users.
Electronic devices Customs must now satisfy specific legal thresholds before they can search the digital content of an electronic device when processing passengers or crew, or inspecting baggage, mail, and cargo. More info
Questioning The Act clarifies when a person is obliged to answer questions, and creates consistency across questioning powers in the Act. The scope of what Customs officers can ask people about has been extended in some cases. 
Detaining people - use of force The new Act clarifies that a Customs officer can apply force if required when detaining a person. This is a technical change to ensure consistency within the Act. 
Arresting suspected offenders Making an arrest without a warrant can now be done with no limitation to timeframe. 
Baggage search A Customs officer can examine any item in any arriving or departing passenger’s possession or under their control. This includes wallets, handbags, money belts and pocket contents. More info
Biometric identity check A person can be requested to undertake an identity check using biometric information if their identity is unable to be verified with reasonable certainty in a visual check. 
Prohibiting use of devices Customs officers can prohibit the use of electronic communication devices in areas where people are arriving or departing New Zealand, rather than in just Customs-controlled areas or Customs places. 
Controlled deliveries - non drugs Customs officers can now release the following types of goods to investigate further: objectionable publications; goods that are designed, manufactured or adapted with intent to facilitate crime, or involving dishonesty; large-scale tobacco smuggling.  
Late drawback applications The Act allows a drawback, or refund of duty, on duty-paid goods that are later exported, according to prescribed conditions and timeframes. The deadline for a standard drawback is now aligned with an export entry - at least 48 hours before goods are shipped for export. More info
Information management
Information sharing The new Act contains a range of enhanced provisions to better facilitate information sharing with external parties, while ensuring there is transparency and accountability regarding the collection, use and disclosure of information that Customs holds.
Passenger name record (PNR) The new Act updates the provisions for collection and use of PNR information. This assists Customs to align its PNR policy and practice more closely with current international best practice.
Biometric information The new Act contains various provisions on governing Customs' ability to collect, use and disclose biometric information. These provisions are intended to provide greater clarity regarding Customs' use of biometric information to determine whether a person is of interest for law enforcement, national security, border protection or public health purposes.