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Commercial ships and cruise liners

This guidance covers the requirements for commercial vessels and cruise ships arriving and departing New Zealand.


For general public information about travelling to New Zealand on board a cruise vessel or joining a cruise in New Zealand visit COVID-19's webpage, Travel to New Zealand by sea.

Reconnecting New Zealand

New Zealand’s maritime border reopened to all vessels at 11.59pm on 31 July 2022 including foreign flagged vessels, cruise ships, recreational vessels (such as yachts and small craft) and specialist vessels used in research and exploration.

Categories of maritime vessels and associated health requirements for crew and passengers

All vessels arriving in New Zealand are now placed into two categories:

  • Category 1 vessels are vessels including commercial craft such as freight (cargo) ships, fishing vessels, fuel ships specialty vessels, research vessels, foreign-state vessels with diplomatic status and ferries returning to New Zealand following repairs or maintenance. Passengers and crew on Category 1 vessels do not need to be vaccinated but will be subject to on arrival testing to disembark.
  • Category 2 vessels are cruise ships or recreational vessels, yachts, super yachts, and small craft. Passengers and crew on Category 2 vessels need to be fully vaccinated, or excused for medical reasons or exempt before arriving in New Zealand but there is no requirement to test on arrival.

All vessels that are not Category 2 vessels are classed as Category 1 vessels.

For further COVID-19 information and guidance on the maritime sector visit Health's webpage on COVID-19: Maritime Sector.

Mandatory documentation to complete prior to your arrival in New Zealand

If you’re coming into New Zealand as a master/operator/owner of a commercial vessel or cruise liner, you must provide certain information in advance of your arrival.

You need to tell us certain information including:

  • who you have onboard
  • vaccination status of those on board (for Category 2 vessels only including Cruise)
  • what cargo and other items you have onboard
  • who will be staying in NZ
  • who and what will be leaving New Zealand

The following mandatory forms must be completed in full with the correct information and emailed to apicustodian@customs.govt.nz prior to arrival in New Zealand, or within the prescribed timeframes as listed below:

1. Complete the Extended Notice of Arrival (ENA) required under the Maritime Border Order

The Extended Notice of Arrival (ENA) form is an important document that needs to be completed for all vessels coming into New Zealand. It needs to be sent to us between 168 and 192 hours (7-8 days) before arrival in New Zealand territorial waters (12 nautical miles).

An ENA may be submitted outside these times if it is not practicable to give between 168 and 192 hours’ notice, for example:

  • You will be at sea more than 192 hours (8 days) before arrival and do not have the ability to transmit the ENA en route; or
  • You anticipate that your voyage will be shorter than 168 hours (7 days) in duration.

In such cases the ENA should be submitted upon departure from your last port of call before arriving in New Zealand.

The owner/master of the vessel must complete and submit the ENA form (along with all other required documentation) before arriving in New Zealand. The ENA is a legal requirement and the master is liable to prosecution for not submitting the ENA in the required timeframe and for not providing the ENA in the specified form and manner.

2. Complete the Advance Notice of Arrival (ANA) required under the Customs and Excise Act 2018

The Advance Notice of Arrival (ANA) form needs to be completed by the owner/master of the vessel and sent to us at least 48 hours before arrival in New Zealand territorial waters – 12 nautical miles.

The ANA is a legal requirement and the owner/master is liable to prosecution for not submitting the ANA in the required timeframe and for not providing the ANA in the specified form and manner.

Provide details of crew and passengers as part of the ANA

The owner/master of the vessel must provide details of crew and passengers on board the vessel including names and passport information using the relevant Commercial ship or Cruise ship form. The form must be completed and sent to us at least 48 hours before arrival in New Zealand territorial waters – 12 nautical miles.

3. Complete the Inward Report required under the Customs and Excise Act 2018

The Inward Report is to be completed by the owner/master of the vessel and provides information in relation to the vessel, its travel movements, any cargo, firearms, controlled drugs/medicines, stores, and passengers and crew on board. The form must be completed in respect of all vessels and within 24 hours of arriving at a Customs place. An inward report does not need to include any information that has been provided as part of an ANA or an inward cargo report.

4. Complete the crew declarations required under the Customs (Arriving Passenger and Crew Declaration) Rules 2018

The relevant crew declaration must be completed.

5. Complete the Inward Cargo Report (Cargo vessels only) required under the Customs and Excise Act 2018

The owner or operator of a craft headed for New Zealand (or their agent) must submit an Inward Cargo Report (ICR) using the Trade Single Window (TSW) site at least 48 hours prior to the expected time of arrival in New Zealand.

An Inward Cargo Report (ICR) is used to:

  • advance-report cargo destined for New Zealand (including empty containers)
  • request movement of such cargo as an international or domestic transhipment
  • request clearance of shipments that don’t require an Import Declaration

For more information, visit Inward Cargo Report (Sea) Factsheet

6. Complete the No Change of Health Status form required under the Health Act 1956

The Master must complete the ‘No Change of Health Status’ form 12-24 hours before arrival into New Zealand. This is a notice to confirm the health status aboard your vessel following your earlier ‘New Zealand Advance Notice of Arrival’ form. Complete this form and send to the Port Health Authority (Public Health Service).

You may also need to supply other government agencies with documentation, including:

Other useful information guides:

Ports of entry for commercial vessels

All commercial craft coming into New Zealand must nominate and arrive at a Customs port of entry.

Customs ports of entry for commercial vessels are:

  • Port Taranaki (New Plymouth)
  • Port Otago (Dunedin)
  • Port of Tauranga (Sulphur Point/Tauranga Container Terminal)
  • Port of Tauranga (Mount Wharf)
  • Centreport (Wellington)
  • Port Nelson
  • Ports of Auckland
  • Ports of Auckland (Multicargo)
  • Northport (Marsden Point near Whangarei)
  • Lyttelton Port
  • Port of Napier
  • Eastland Port (Gisborne)
  • South Port (Bluff)
  • Prime Port (Timaru)
  • Port Marlborough (Picton)

You can arrive at a non-Customs port of entry only if:

  • It’s an emergency, or
  • You have written permission from Customs. You must have this permission prior to arriving in NZ.

Similar requirements must be met for MPI. Visit MPI's webpage Places of first arrival in New Zealand.

When you arrive in New Zealand

Clearance to disembark

Customs and MPI officers process your clearance.

The following passenger declarations must be provided:

  • Passenger Arrival Card (on arrival)
    A passenger arrival card is an entry requirement for passengers and/or crew who are permanently disembarking. This card will be provided on arrival into New Zealand for completion, a sample of this can be viewed here: Passenger Arrival Card (PDF 205 KB)
    Note: this Passenger Arrival card is a sample only and cannot be presented to Customs or MPI staff.

  • Border Cash Report (if applicable)
    The Border Cash report must be completed if anyone is carrying NZ$10,000 or more in cash or equivalent – you must declare it on this form. This form is to be completed by relevant individuals on board.
    NZCS 337: Border Cash Report (DOC 332 KB)

COVID-19 health requirements

COVID-19 testing requirements for Category 1 (commercial) vessels

There are on-arrival COVID-19 testing requirements for people arriving on Category 1 vessels. The captain or vessel master will provide crew and passengers with information about the testing requirements for when the vessel arrives into New Zealand.

Rapid antigen test (RAT) kits will be provided to passengers and crew before disembarkation (day 0/1) so a test can be taken to leave the ship, but this is not needed for the undertaking of essential tasks such as unloading cargo.

Positive COVID-19 cases must isolate along with ‘household contacts’.

The result of any test taken must be reported to the ship’s master, regardless of the result. The vessel master is required to report COVID-19 test results to the relevant Medical Officer of Health.

For more information about health requirements including testing and reporting of results visit Health's COVID-19: Maritime Sector webpage.

Providing evidence of COVID-19 vaccination for Category 2 (cruise) vessels

Passengers and crew on cruise ships (Category 2 vessels) need to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 to travel to New Zealand, unless they are excused or exempt. New Zealand citizens, residents, Australian citizens ordinarily resident in New Zealand and those aged 16 or under do not need to be vaccinated against COVID-19 to travel to NZ.

The master of a ship travelling to New Zealand is required to have systems and processes in place to ensure arrivals on their vessels meet COVID-19 vaccination requirements. The master must be able to provide evidence of vaccination status for all passengers and crew onboard, and that they are vaccinated as per New Zealand Government requirements or that an exemption or excuse applies. Upon arrival in New Zealand, when requested to do so by government officials, the ship master and/or those on board must produce evidence of meeting the vaccination requirements or being excused or exempt.

For more information about health requirements for categories of vessels (crew and passengers), and steps the master of the ship must take visit Health's COVID-19: Maritime Sector webpage.

Ship stores

Ship stores include:

  • food
  • cleaning products
  • alcohol and tobacco
  • spares and service parts
  • bunkers
  • general provisions for passengers and crew.

You can add to your ship stores while you’re in NZ. If you want to load any duty-free alcohol or tobacco, you must have our permission.

Email: ships.stores@customs.govt.nz a completed NZCS 325: Requisition for Ships Stores (DOC 147 KB).

If you’re coming into NZ on a temporary import entry, you can only load duty-free items into your ship store as you’re about to leave NZ.

The amount you’re allowed is calculated as follows - your approved quota (see table below) x the number of crew and passengers x the length of the voyage – any duty-free alcohol or tobacco on board already.

The approved quota per person is:

  • beer – 6 cans or bottles per day (375ml or less per bottle/can), or
  • wine – 1 bottle (750ml) per day, and
  • spirits or liqueur – 3 bottles (1.125ml) per 10 days
  • cigarettes – 20 cigarettes per day or
  • tobacco – 250g per 10 days or
  • cigars – 5 (regardless of weight) every 10 days.

Cruise ships have different allowances. Contact your local Customs shipping office or local port agent for details.

When you leave New Zealand

You need a certificate of clearance from Customs before you can leave NZ ports - Form C3: Certificate of clearance (all ships and boats other than small craft) (DOC 263 KB).

To get clearance, the person in charge of the craft must give Customs advance notice of departure not less than 4 hours before intended time of departure. The owner of the craft, or person in charge, or agent, are the only people who can sign this - Form C2: Advance notice of departure (ships and boats other than small craft) (DOC 148 KB).

You must also email passenger and crew information to apicustodian@customs.govt.nz.

Passengers must complete a Border Cash Report if they are carrying NZ$10,000 or more in cash or equivalent – they must declare it on this form. This form is to be completed by the individual moving the cash out of NZ.

You can only depart from a designated Customs port. When you leave, you must depart immediately and not go to any other place within NZ unless you have Customs permission or there is an emergency.

We will usually clear cruise ship passengers at the port you’re leaving from.

If you need to be processed somewhere else, you must get our permission first. Contact our cruise vessel coordinator by:

Phone: +64 9 359 6620
Fax: +64 9 359 6692
Email: cruiseship@customs.govt.nz