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Customs import value

How to determine the Customs value for an imported item.

Customs value of imported items

This is detailed in Schedule 4 of the Customs and Excise Act 2018.

If you’re an online shopper, the Customs value is generally what you paid for an item.

If you’re importing items for business or other reasons, determining the items’ Customs value can be more complicated. 

In general, there are six methods for determining Customs value, shown in the table below and outlined in detail in Methods for determining Customs value. You must use them in strict hierarchical order.

The six possible methods for valuation:

Method 1 - transaction value

If your import is the result of a sale for export to NZ, the transaction value is the primary method. You should use this method first, whenever possible.

It includes what you paid (or will pay) for the item, but also includes:

  • commissions and brokerage fees, except buying commissions
  • packing and container costs and charges
  • the value of any items or services you supplied free – or at reduced cost – to the seller to get the product made or sold
  • royalties and license fees
  • any proceeds from resale, disposal or use that you must then pay to the seller
  • the value of any materials, parts, and services used to repair or refurbish the item before importing it
  • transportation and shipping costs, including loading/unloading and handling charges, before the item leaves the country you’re exporting from.

You can deduct the following charges – if you paid them, and they’re clearly separated from the price of your item(s):

  • transport and insurance costs, including loading/unloading and handling charges, after the item leaves its country of export
  • any (reasonable) costs related to constructing, maintaining or getting technical help with the item when it arrives in NZ
  • any (reasonable) costs for transportation or insurance of the item(s) within NZ 
  • any NZ Customs duties or other NZ taxes.

To use the transaction value method

  • you must have evidence of a sale specifically for export to NZ, eg a commercial invoice, contract or purchase orders
  • any relationship between the buyer and seller mustn’t have affected the item’s price
  • the item’s price or sale mustn’t be subject to any condition or consideration where a value can’t be determined
  • there mustn’t be any restrictions in the sale about how the buyer will dispose of or use the item, except for those:
    • imposed by law
    • that limit where the item can be sold
    • that don’t have a substantial effect on the item’s value.

Examples of items where you can’t use the transaction value method

  • gifts
  • free samples
  • anything on consignment
  • anything imported by a company branch that isn’t a separate legal entity to the seller
  • items that were imported under a hire or leasing contract.

Other valuation methods

If you can’t use the transaction value method, you should use the first possible method of the following five.

Method 2 – transaction value of identical goods (“identical goods method”)

Based on the transaction value of identical items brought into NZ at the same time (or nearly). You must have proof of the identical items’ value.

Method 3 – transaction value of similar goods (“similar goods method”)

Based on the transaction value of similar items brought into NZ at the same time (or nearly). You must have proof of the similar items’ value.

Method 4 – deductive value

Applies if the imported goods are sold in NZ within 90 days of arriving in the country. The resale price of the item in NZ is reduced to the Customs value if the item had initially been sold for export to NZ.

Method 5 - computed value

Based on the production cost of the imported goods, plus an amount for profit and general expenses. This method is generally restricted to cases where you have access to the producer’s factory costs and profit margins.

You must get our approval first if you want to use this method.

Method 6 - residual basis of valuation

If you can’t use any of the methods above, you can interpret – within reason – one of them to get the Customs value of an items.

Depending on the items, how they’re imported and the documents you have, you might be able to determine their Customs value based on:

  • the valid list price of the items (“list price” is what the seller in the country of export would charge a buyer in NZ)
  • a valuation from an independent assessor.

The insurance value of an item isn’t acceptable for determining residual value.

Methods you can’t use

You can’t determine a Customs value by choosing:

  • the selling price of items made in NZ
  • a system which looks for the higher of two alternative values
  • the item’s price on the domestic market, in the country you exported from
  • the item’s production cost(s), other than using production values already worked out for identical or similar items
  • the sale price of the item to a country other than NZ
  • minimum Customs values
  • arbitrary or made-up values.

The methods are detailed in Schedule 4 of the Customs and Excise Act 2018.

For information on application of the valuation methods, rules and principles that must be complied with to determine the Customs value of goods imported into NZ, and common valuation situations and how to deal with them, download the Valuation Guide (PDF 978 KB).

Valuation rulings

If you need certainty on the method that applies to you, you can apply for a valuation ruling. This binding ruling can be on which valuation method will apply to your goods or a specific aspect of one of the methods. The binding ruling will be based on the particular set of facts and circumstances you present and Customs may request further information from you to reach a decision. The valuation ruling is conclusive evidence for the purpose of the Act and, where applicable, the Tariff Act.

Provisional values and Customs import value

Use the provisional values scheme when:

  • you cannot determine the cost of your imported goods at the time of importation, or
  • the Customs value is likely to change after importation.

You will need to either notify us about how you qualify under the legislation, or apply and be approved to use provisional values.

Exchange rates

The Customs value must be in New Zealand dollars. If you bought your item with a different currency, we will convert the amount to NZ dollars on the day you lodge your import entry or clearance with us.

We will use the exchange rates we publish on our website.


We carry out audits to make sure importers are declaring the correct Customs value.

We may penalise or fine you if:

  • you make a false or incorrect entry or declaration – see administrative penalties
  • you don’t keep relevant records for at least seven years.