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Refunds and drawbacks

A drawback is a refund of the tariff duty, excise duty, or GST due on items you’ve exported, or will be exporting.

Duty and GST drawbacks

You can claim a duty and/or GST drawback on:

  • items you’ve imported, and are now exporting
  • excisable items you’re exporting
  • imported parts and materials used in, worked into or attached to items that are made in New Zealand and then exported
  • imported materials – except fuel or plant equipment – used to make items in NZ that are then exported.

There are no minimum drawback amounts for private exporters. Commercial exporters must claim a minimum of NZ$50 drawback.

You can also get a drawback on your duty and/or GST in cases where:

  • the item you imported was faulty (you must apply for a drawback within a year of importing the item); and
  • the item wasn’t what you ordered (you must apply for a drawback within 2 months of importing the item); or
  • you’re exporting the items (not someone else).

You can’t claim GST back on any items you buy when visiting NZ.

Items you can’t claim drawbacks on

  • Any fuel and plant equipment you use to make items which you’re going to export
  • Waste material made by item(s) you imported to make other item(s) that you’re not exporting.

Who can claim a duty drawback?

Anyone who can prove they paid duties when they imported something.

If you’re a business who regularly imports items that you re-export (ie export again), talk with a Service Delivery officer about the best way to lodge your drawbacks.

You can’t claim GST drawbacks if you’re GST-registered and you’re using the items for work.

Applying for a drawback

Commercial importers

To apply electronically for a drawback, you or your broker must:

  • lodge the standard export entry
  • specify the type as “drawback”
  • include the item’s Customs import entry number
  • include how much duty you paid.


You should lodge your standard drawback entry 48 hours before the goods are shipped for export. In some cases late and periodic drawback claims can be made independently of an export entry. The time limit for a late drawback entry is four years from the time of exportation. 

Private importers

If you’re a private importer (ie not importing commercially), we will need:

  • the tax invoice number or Customs import entry number
  • evidence that you exported the item(s).

To obtain a drawback of GST, you’ll also need to give us:

  • a statement that you aren’t GST-registered (an email is enough)
  • evidence that the goods were of faulty manufacture or wrongly supplied (you can use correspondence with the supplier for this).

You can use a broker to apply for a drawback. Otherwise, you can take the documents to your nearest Customs office.

Sometimes, we may need to inspect your goods.


You can re-import goods you’ve already exported and claimed drawback on.

Drawbacks on motor vehicles

If you’re exporting a motor vehicle on which you paid duty before 25 May 1998, you must prove to us that you won’t re-import the car within a year from when you export it. If you paid import duty on your motor vehicle before May 1998, you can’t re-import it less than 1 year after you export it.

Drawback payments

We pay drawbacks in two ways:

  • if you have a deferred payment account, we’ll credit the drawback amount against your account
  • otherwise, we’ll send you a cheque for the drawback amount.

For further information contact your nearest Customs Office.