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Private yachts and small craft

This guidance is for all owners, operators and agents of small craft intending to arrive in New Zealand while COVID-19 restrictions are in place. This includes superyachts and pleasure craft. Until the staged re-opening of New Zealand’s maritime border is confirmed, current maritime border restrictions remain in place.


Reconnecting New Zealand

New Zealand’s maritime border will reopen to foreign-flagged vessels, including cruise ships, at 11:59pm 31 July 2022. Details of any updates to the requirements that have been imposed to contain and control the spread of COVID-19 will be provided as they become available.

For updates visit Ministry of Health | COVID-19: Maritime sector

COVID-19 update for Private Yachts on C4G/Temporary Import entry (TIE)

In January 2022 Customs sent out a reminder notice that the COVID-19 extension for vessels in New Zealand on C4G/Temporary Import Entry concludes on 30 June 2022.  Customs accepts that under the current environment there have been some that are unable to comply.  Customs has taken this into consideration and the date has now been extended for a further 12 months.

The final date for export of your vessel is 30 June 2023.

Yacht owners must continue to abide by the conditions set out in their C4G. Any breach of these conditions will invalidate the C4G and therefore this further extension.

If you are intending to sell your vessel while it is under a C4G/TIE, permission must first be given by Customs.

If you have any questions or require clarification please email service.delivery@customs.govt.nz.


Each year Customs works with other government agencies and ports to plan for the summer arrival of small craft into New Zealand. This season generally runs from October to December, with small craft sailing here to avoid the south Pacific cyclone season.

With the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, changes were put in place to update the arrivals process for small craft. This involved wide community consultation. All small craft are still expected to arrive at Opua to help reduce the spread of COVID-19 in New Zealand.

All passengers and crew are required to meet the requirements of the Maritime Border Order

Each person aboard must have:

  • A valid passport, certificate of identity or other travel document
  • A visa (if required). For more information visit Immigration NZ website
  • Evidence of funds of NZ$400 per month, if living on board a yacht
  • An outward ticket (or evidence of sufficient funds to buy an outward ticket) if departing by commercial transport.

Permissions

Foreign registered vessels must have first received an exemption from the Ministry of Health and foreign crew/passengers must have obtained approval from Immigration New Zealand. You should not depart for New Zealand until these approvals have been granted.

It is an offence for a foreign vessel to arrive in New Zealand waters without permission. You may be liable to a fine and/or prosecution, and foreign crew on board could be denied entry into New Zealand. A vessel brought into New Zealand in these circumstances is liable for seizure under the Customs and Excise Act 2018. Note that vessels imported into New Zealand are also subject to duty liability.

If you have permission to enter New Zealand, or are a New Zealand vessel returning home, communicate your plans to Customs with as much notice as possible – you can do this by emailing yachts@customs.govt.nz.

Voyage and preparing for arrival

From 11.59pm, 2 May 2022 people arriving in New Zealand via sea will no longer be required to go to a Managed Isolation and Quarantine (MIQ) facility. They will be required to self-test for COVID-19 on arrival and self-isolate on-board, or other suitable place if they test positive for COVID-19. Self-isolation may also extend to other people on board the same craft. Arrivals may have to isolate elsewhere if the vessel is not suitable – this will be considered by Health officials. For more information including testing requirements for those arriving on board via sea visit Ministry of Health’s website.

Activate your AIS transponder (or other observable satellite tracking system) prior to departure. Keep it on for the duration of the journey so your movements can be verified.

Make sure your vessel is properly outfitted and provisioned before undertaking your voyage. In addition to planning your travel time to New Zealand, remember to plan for enough provisions, power, fuel and waste management aboard your vessel incase you test positive for COVID-19 on arrival into New Zealand and are required to self-isolate on-board.

Certain food items such as fresh fruits, vegetables, meat and poultry are not allowed into New Zealand. Visit MPI's website for more information about what is required for biosecurity clearance.

Extended Notice of Arrival

The Extended Notice of Arrival is an important document that all vessels coming into New Zealand will need to completed and sent to us between 192 and 168 hours before arrival In New Zealand waters.

An ENA may be submitted outside these times if:

  • You will be at sea more than 192 hours before arrival and do not have the ability to transmit the ENA en route; or
  • You anticipate that your voyage will be shorter than 168 hours in duration.

In either case the ENA should be submitted upon departure from your last port of call before arriving in New Zealand.

The ENA form includes questions about vaccinations and testing, though neither vaccinations nor pre-departure testing are required at the maritime border at this stage.

The form can be downloaded and submitted to: yachts@customs.govt.nz.

Advance Notice of Arrival

The NZCS 340: Advance Notice of Arrival (DOC 284 KB) form will need to be completed and sent to us at least 48 hours before, but not more than 1 month prior to arrival in NZ waters.

The form can be downloaded and submitted to yachts@customs.govt.nz.

When you arrive

Currently, under maritime border restrictions the only authorised port of entry is Opua, in the Bay of Islands.

For pleasure craft 30 metres and over, the place of first arrival will be confirmed by Customs when you submit your Extended Notice of Arrival.

When you arrive in New Zealand waters, tell us by calling Maritime Radio on 1 of these frequencies:

  • 4125 kHz
  • 6215 kHz
  • VHF Ch16.

You will be provided with a Rapid Antigen Test (RAT) kit containing two RATs – one for use on day 0/1 and the other on day 5/6. You will be asked to self-administer the first RAT when you arrive and the master is required to report the result to the local Public Health Unit. If you test negative and have been cleared by border and health agencies, you will be able to disembark. If the result is positive, you and others on board will be required to self-isolate on-board or other suitable location.

Isolation and quarantine

From 11.59pm, 2 May 2022 people arriving in New Zealand via sea will no longer be required to go to a Managed Isolation and Quarantine (MIQ) facility. They will be required to self-test for COVID-19 on arrival and self-isolate on-board, or other suitable place if they test positive for COVID-19. Self-isolation may also extend to other people on board the same craft. Arrivals may have to isolate elsewhere if the vessel is not suitable – this will be considered by Health officials. For more information including testing requirements for those arriving on board via sea visit Ministry of Health’s website.

Disembarking/onward journey

Crew and passengers are required to return a negative COVID-19 test result before being cleared by border and health agencies and disembarking your vessel. If a member of the crew or a passenger tests positive for COVID-19, they will be required to self-isolate for seven (7) days.

Self-Isolation

You may self-isolate on board or potentially do so on land.

If you are isolating on land, see: How to self-isolate | Unite against COVID-19 (covid19.govt.nz)

If you are isolating on board, you must remain on the vessel at all times. You must not come into contact with anyone else (except for example, staff from New Zealand government agencies). This includes people on vessels isolating near you, or come ashore (unless required to do so such as for COVID-19 testing or a medical examination). Everyone on-board is considered a ‘household contact’ and must self-isolate for a period of seven (7) days. Any breach of these conditions may result in an extension to the isolation requirements.

Extension to TIEs

In 2020 under COVID-19 restrictions many vessels were unable to depart New Zealand before the expiration of their TIEs (Temporary Import Entry). The decision was made for Customs to give a blanket extension to all affected by TIEs to stay in New Zealand. A further extension has been given until 30 June 2023.

Other requirements

Before arrival into NZ, you are required to complete:

Note: the Passenger Arrival card is a sample only and cannot be presented to Customs or MPI staff.

If anyone on board has or is suspected of having an infectious disease, you must fly the international Q flag and notify health authorities.

Restricted and prohibited items

You are not allowed to bring some items into NZ, and some require approval to import, including firearms and weapons.

You must declare any firearms when you arrive. NZ Police will take them and stow them safely until you leave NZ.

Infringement Notices

You may receive a $400 fine if you break the law, do not comply with Customs requirements or fail to declare prohibited goods, or items exceeding customs allowances.

Border processing levy

Each person must pay a Border Processing Levy of  NZ$15.79 when they arrive and NZ$2.94 when they leave NZ.

We will send an invoice to the email address you give us on your advance notice of arrival form. You have until the 20th day of the following month to pay. If you pay late, we will charge you:

  • 8% on the remaining amount
  • 2% for every month you don’t pay.

Leaving New Zealand

Departures will be assessed on a case-by-case basis. Departing craft need to be aware that once you have departed New Zealand, any return will be subject to the provisions as set out in the Maritime Border Order.

You must depart New Zealand from a designated Customs place. If you wish to depart from a port that is not a Customs place you must have obtained prior approval from Customs.

Getting the completed departure forms to us three days before your departure will help avoid processing delays.  We must receive your forms no less than 4 hours before you leave:

If you entered on a temporary import entry, you will also need to complete: Form C4G: Import entry (temporary) yachts and small vessels (PDF 81 KB).

Maritime NZ also require an inspection safety certificate from Yachting NZ (search Safety Inspections), if your craft is registered in New Zealand.

Ensure you have passports for every person leaving on the craft, and a recent photograph of the craft which can be used for identifying it.

Completed departure forms must be sent to us at least four hours before you leave.

When we have approved your clearance, you must leave immediately and directly, or you risk a fine or prosecution.

The only exceptions are in an emergency, or with our permission. Contact us on immediately:

If the situation isn’t life-threatening, but you still need to pause your journey, you must get our permission first. An officer will tell you what other requirements you must meet.

Taking duty free items out of NZ

You can only load duty-free consumable items when you’re about to depart New Zealand. The duty-free business or ship’s providore must email us the completed requisition form no more than 12 hours before you leave.

Keep receipts for any duty-free purchases you’re claiming, as we may inspect them.

You can only load duty-free consumable items when you’re about to depart New Zealand. You can do this through a duty-free business or ships providore, who must email NZCS 325: Requisition for Ships Stores (DOC 147 KB) to us at ships.stores@customs.govt.nz. They must email us no more than 12 hours before you leave.

Keep receipts for any duty-free purchases you’re claiming, as we may inspect them.

Extending your stay, chartering or permanently importing your yacht

Visitors to New Zealand may import a yacht or sailing craft for up to 2 years without paying duty and GST or a financial security provided they meet all of the following criteria:

  • they are a permanent resident of a country other than New Zealand
  • the yacht or sailing craft will not be sold or offered for sale in New Zealand, or destroyed or given away without permission from Customs
  • the yacht or sailing craft will not be used commercially for hire, transport of cargo or carrying passengers.

Note: the qualifying criteria may be extended, on a case by case basis, to craft used for charter, provided the charter work is less than 65 per cent of the vessel’s time in New Zealand.

If the requirements above are not met, we will require a financial security and the yacht or small craft must be exported within 12 months.

If you’re moving to NZ, you may be able to import your craft without paying Customs duty and GST.

Contact us

  • yachts@customs.govt.nz
  • Calling from NZ: 0800 428 786
  • Calling from Australia: 1 800 301 861
  • Calling from overseas: +64 9 927 8036

Further information

Disclaimer

This information is a general guide only. It should not be relied on if specific advice is needed in relation to your particular circumstances. You should either approach the specific New Zealand government agency concerned or seek independent legal advice.

If you, or your fellow travellers on board, or the craft you will be travelling on require permission to arrive and/or enter New Zealand you should ensure that you make your application and receive the decision before your departure for New Zealand. That ensures you won’t need to change plans mid-journey if your application is declined.

Arriving without permission is an offence and comes with strict penalties including prosecution.

The Maritime Border Order does not limit or affect any other border requirements. All other regular border requirements must also be met (such as providing the Advance Notice of Arrival to New Zealand Customs Service).