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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 25 May 2022, water-pipe tobacco is a prohibited import requiring a permit to import. This means it is treated in the same manner as tobacco products, tobacco leaf and tobacco refuse that became a prohibited import from 1 July 2020 unless a permit to import has been issued by the New Zealand Customs Service. Water-pipe tobacco includes flavoured, hookah, shisha, molasses and fruit tobacco.

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. You need to have the permit before you import the goods. If the goods arrive and you do not have a permit, the goods will be seized and destroyed. Permits are issued free of charge. 

The current method of charging duty and the duty rate for water-pipe tobacco has changed with effect from 25 May 2022. The previous method of charging duty based on declared kilogram of tobacco content (KTC) is replaced by charging based on total weight. The excise and excise-equivalent duty rate for water-pipe tobacco is amended from $1,565.18 per KTC, to $234.77 per kilogram.

You cannot receive any tobacco products, including leaf and refuse, through the international mail. This includes if you hold a permit. Tobacco must only be imported using a freight forwarder, the fast-freight courier system or as bulk sea or air cargo. You are still able to use New Zealand Post’s international courier service International Freight Services (IFS), but not their Express Mail Service (EMS) which is part of international mail. Any tobacco products imported using EMS will be seized and destroyed even if a permit is held. You need to make this clear when placing your order.

Any tobacco products (including water-pipe tobacco), 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, 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 are available to download. View the FAQs or 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.