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Tobacco

Importing or bringing tobacco into New Zealand.


When you import or bring tobacco products into New Zealand, you must comply with New Zealand laws. You must pay all relevant taxes on your imported tobacco at the border.

From 1 July 2020, tobacco products, tobacco leaf and tobacco refuse will become prohibited imports and you will be required to have a permit to import these products.

Permits are approved and issued by Customs. That means if you want to import any kind of tobacco product including as a gift, you will have to apply for a permit.

Also from 1 July 2020 you cannot receive any tobacco products, including leaf and refuse, through the international mail. Tobacco must only be imported using a freight forwarder, the fast-freight courier system or as bulk sea or air cargo. You will still be able to use New Zealand Post’s international courier service.

Customs has already contacted established importers, who will be issued a permit for one year from 01 July or the length of time a manufacturer holds a licence to manufacture tobacco products. Other importers will need to apply for a permit.  Permits will be issued free of charge. 

From 1 July 2020, any tobacco products, leaf or refuse imported without a permit will be seized and destroyed. Customs will send a written notice to importers confirming the seizure and destruction of the tobacco products, leaf and refuse. In the unlikely event of the product being seized and destroyed in error (for example, when the person had a valid permit to import), the importer will be entitled to compensation for the customs value of the products.

A permit is not required to import cigars, cigarillos, water-pipe tobacco, chewing tobacco, snuff and snus - these exempted items can be imported through international mail. There is an absolute prohibition in the Smoke-Free Environments Act 1990 on the importation for sale of tobacco, which is suitable for chewing, or any other oral use other than smoking. Chewing tobacco cannot be imported for sale. If you have a query relating to the sale of chewing tobacco, please contact the Ministry of Health.

Passengers arriving into New Zealand with tobacco do not need a permit and individual duty-free tobacco limits are unchanged. More information about duty-free limits and FAQs are available to download. For further information about importing tobacco products, please email tobaccopermits@customs.govt.nz.

Applications for permits

For further information, please contact Customs on 0800 428 786 (0800 4 CUSTOMS) or email tobaccopermits@customs.govt.nz.