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Lodge your import entry

Importers send electronic declarations (import entries) covering the details of their import before we release their goods.

Customs clearance

You need to send us an electronic lodgement before we clear your goods – ie before you can receive them. We don’t provide electronic lodgement services directly. However, you can:

  • use a Customs broker
  • use a freight forwarder
  • use TSW (for some lodgements) 
  • use Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) software.

If your goods require Customs clearance, an Import Entry must be completed within 20 days of your items arriving in New Zealand.

Goods are kept in storage facilities handled by freight and postal companies, until a Customs Clearance is processed.

Most locations offer a complimentary storage period of 3-4 days before additional fees are imposed.

To this degree it is important for you to act quickly in order to get your goods cleared. You can submit your documentation in advance, i.e. before your goods arrive. Customs is not responsible for any storage (demurrage) fees that may be incurred due to a delayed clearance.

Courier and freight companies often have a policy of holding goods for a maximum of 20 days before returning the package to its origin.

Types of import entry

Standard import entry for items worth NZ$1000 or more.

Temporary import entry for items that will only be in NZ for 1 year or less before being exported.

Simplified import entry:

A simplified entry is used for:

  • commercial imports with a VFD of less than $1000
  • unaccompanied passengers baggage, personal and household effects (excluding motor vehicles which must be cleared on an import entry) regardless of VFD
  • private imports with a VFD of less than $1000.

A simplified entry may also be used by brokers or importers to:

  • account for goods that are short landed, short shipped or short packed
  • account for "write offs" that could not be cleared on an ECI.

In all cases where the VFD of commercial imports exceeds $1000, a full import entry must be used except for Carnets (see information below).

A simplified entry does not require the use of importer or supplier codes although these can be input however if a broker or importer wants to utilise a deferred payment account then the client/broker codes can be used.

Permit entry for items where you’ve made an entry and paid Customs duties and GST, but the items were short-packed, short-shipped or short-landed from the original shipment, and have arrived separately from it.

Sight entry for items where you can’t make an accurate, full or complete entry because of missing details.

Electronic Cargo Information (ECI) for items worth less than NZ$1000.

Visit the Customs import value page for further information.

Bringing in commercial items as luggage

Sometimes you may want to bring your commercial items into NZ as part of your luggage.

There are two options for declaring temporary imports:

  1. an ATA carnet
  2. submitting an electronic temporary lodgement through a Customs broker or freight forwarder (you may need to give us security in the form of a cash deposit, financial bond or temporary import approval and undertaking).

ATA Carnet

An ATA carnet is an international Customs document which guarantees you will take out the items you’re bringing in. You use the carnet at both the port of departure and the port of arrival. The carnet must be validated overseas on departure for New Zealand and completed (stamped and verified) by Customs when the goods arrive and leave New Zealand.

Customs will not validate a Carnet, if the correct process has not been followed for arrival and departure.

ATA carnets are valid for 1 year and must remain valid while the goods are in NZ unless an extension is approved by the issuing body.

Carnet’s are exempt entry however to release goods a Customs-controlled Area (CCA) or Location of Goods (LOG) an electronic notification from is required.

Brokers should lodge an Simplifed Entry (electronic notification)

Use the name of the holder of the Carnet, no Client code is required,

Only a single line entry with a value of $999 is requried

The Carnet is also exempt the Import Entry Clearance fee.

Note : Hand carried Carnets do not require a lodgement but must be stamped and signed by a Customs officer on arrival and departure to be valid.

Contact your local Chamber of Commerce to find out about getting an ATA carnet:


If you arranged clearance for your goods before you arrived in New Zealand, you can leave the airport with them. You will need your import delivery order or import delivery order number.

You must submit an electronic lodgement – Customs brokers and freight forwarders can help you do this.

Clearance when you arrive

If you haven’t arrange pre-clearance, and:

    • your items are worth less than NZ$1000, a Customs officer at the airport will submit an electronic lodgement for you. This will take extra time.
    • your items are worth NZ$1000 or more, the airline will hold your items until you have arranged your clearance through a customs broker or freight forwarder.

Your airline may charge you for storing items until they have been cleared.

Temporary imports

Sometimes you are importing goods that you’ll be exporting again. If they aren’t consumable and will be in New Zealand for less than a year, we call them “temporary imports”.

You may not have to pay Customs duties and GST on temporary imports.

These could include:

  • samples which aren’t for sale
  • camera gear you’ll be using in a film.

There are two options for declaring temporary imports:

  1. an ATA carnet
  2. submitting an electronic temporary lodgement through a Customs broker or freight forwarder (you may need to give us security in the form of a cash deposit, financial bond or temporary import approval and undertaking).

Completing your TIE entry

If you’re completing your TIE by a single export/import entry, record the TIE number in the “completion entry” field on the export/import entry.

If you’re completing your TIE by multiple export/import entries, record the TIE number in the “completion entry” field of the final export/import entry. Record the other completing entry numbers in the ‘miscellaneous remarks’ field.

Learn more in our Customer guide to temporary admissions of goods (PDF 247 KB).