Skip to main content
Page load in progress

Drug interceptions

Drug interceptions by port, location, and year.

Take a look at the statistics on drug seizures that were made by Customs from 2010 onwards. Note: Statistics for 2022 are preliminary.

Drugs and prescription medicines

Drug statistics may include substances suspected as being covered under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1975.

When a traveller arrives in New Zealand carrying prescription medicines (other than controlled drugs) they must ensure:

  • they declare the possession of those medicines on their incoming passenger arrival card which is lawfully required, and inspected, by Customs; and
  • they have a copy of the prescription from a doctor, or a letter from a doctor stating that they are being treated with the medicine(s); and
  • they carry the medicine(s) in their original containers, and
  • they have a quantity not exceeding three months supply of prescription medicines (with the exception of oral contraceptives which can be supplied in six month quantities).

If any of the above criteria is not met, then Customs detains the medicines and records them as a prohibited drug interception.


When Customs finds prohibited goods or goods that have been undeclared, misdeclared or undervalued for revenue evasion purposes at the border, it is referred to as an ‘interception’.

From there Customs takes custody of goods, at which point they are ‘detained’. Goods that are ‘detained’ can be either released back to the importer (usually when conditions/requirements have been met eg. duty and GST paid, doctor’s prescription/permit produced etc) or formally ‘seized’. Seizure is a specific legal action that alters the legal status of the goods and instigates a sequence of legal requirements.

Goods which cross the border are either legitimate or prohibited (conditional or absolute).

Prohibited goods include controlled drugs and prescription medicines, drug paraphernalia, objectionable material, weapons, copyright/trade mark goods (IPR), items containing endangered species (CITES), and items covered by the Customs Import Prohibition Order (CIPO).

If goods are intercepted or detained it is usually because:

  • a person failed to declare them
  • a person made an incorrect declaration or produced false or incorrect documents
  • they are prohibited or restricted
  • a person attempted to evade duty.

A Customs-controlled Area (CCA) is a secure and controlled environment in which the activities that take place are monitored or conducted by Customs. This includes places where goods are inspected and where duty free or excisable goods are manufactured, sold or stored.

Other locations include commercial and/or residential premises and the Customhouse’s.