Methods for determining Customs value

Six methods are available for establishing the Customs value for your goods.


Use one of these six methods to determine the Customs value of goods to be imported. You must use them in strict hierarchical order.

Method one – transaction value

If your import is the result of a sale for export to New Zealand, 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 licence 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
  • transport 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 transport 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 for export to NZ, for example, a commercial invoice, contract or purchase order. If there are multiple sales for export, then the Customs value is to be based on the 'last sale' that occurs immediately before the goods enter New Zealand, and not on any other sale that occurred prior in the supply chain. See the Customer Guide: Last sale - Customs valuation of imported goods (PDF 108 KB)
  • 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.

When you can’t use the transaction value method

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

  • 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 cannot use the transaction value method, then you need to identify which of the following five methods would apply.

Method two – 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 three – 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 four – 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 five – 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 six – residual basis of valuation

If you cannot use any of the methods above, you can flexibly interpret – within reason – one of the previous methods to get the Customs value for your goods, for example:

  • there is a sale in NZ but it occurs 110 days after the goods arrive in NZ
  • it would be reasonable to use method four – deductive value, by flexibly interpreting the timeframe specified in the method. 

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.

For more information about Customs values, contact us.