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Recreational vessels, yachts and small craft

This guidance provides the procedures and legal requirements for all owners, operators, agents, passengers and crew of recreational vessels, yachts and small craft, including superyachts and pleasure craft arriving and departing New Zealand.


Reconnecting New Zealand

New Zealand’s maritime border reopened to all vessels at 11.59pm on 31 July 2022 including foreign flagged vessels, cruise ships, recreational vessels (such as yachts and small craft) and specialist vessels used in research and exploration.

Categories of maritime vessels and associated health requirements for crew and passengers

All vessels arriving in New Zealand are now placed into two categories:

  • Category 1 vessels are vessels including commercial craft such as freight (cargo) ships, fishing vessels, fuel ships specialty vessels, research vessels, foreign-state vessels with diplomatic status and ferries returning to New Zealand following repairs or maintenance. Passengers and crew on Category 1 vessels do not need to be vaccinated but will be subject to on arrival testing to disembark.
  • Category 2 vessels are cruise ships or recreational vessels, yachts, super yachts, and small craft. Passengers and crew on Category 2 vessels need to be fully vaccinated, or excused for medical reasons or exempt before arriving in New Zealand but there is no requirement to test on arrival.

All vessels that are not Category 2 vessels are classed as Category 1 vessels.

For more detailed information about categories of vessels, COVID-19 health requirements, and the Maritime Border Order visit Health's COVID-19 Maritime Sector webpage.

Before you travel

You need to comply with all requirements to enter New Zealand. Follow these simple steps to prepare for your travel to New Zealand.

All passengers and crew on board recreational vessels, yachts and small craft are required to meet the following requirements before entering New Zealand:

Each person aboard must have:

  1. A valid passport. Check its expiry date to make sure it meets the rules for acceptable travel documents. If you are a New Zealand citizen and you need to renew your passport, make sure you allow plenty of time before you travel. Apply for or renew your passport at passports.govt.nz or check that your passport is acceptable for travel to New Zealand on the Immigration NZ website.
  2. A visa (if required). Travellers other than New Zealanders and Australians require a current visa or NZeTA to enter New Zealand. For more information visit immigration.govt.nz
  3. Evidence of funds of NZ$400 per month, if living onboard a yacht
  4. An outward ticket (or evidence of sufficient funds to buy an outward ticket) if departing by commercial transport
  5. Evidence of COVID-19 vaccination or exemption that meets New Zealand Government requirements

Mandatory documentation to complete prior to your arrival in New Zealand

The following mandatory forms must be completed in full with the correct information and emailed to yachts@customs.govt.nz prior to arrival in New Zealand within the prescribed timeframes as listed below:

1. Complete the Extended Notice of Arrival (ENA) required under the Maritime Border Order

The Extended Notice of Arrival (ENA) form is an important document that needs to be completed for all vessels coming into New Zealand. It needs to be sent to us between 168 and 192 hours (7-8 days) before arrival in New Zealand territorial waters (12 nautical miles).

An ENA may be submitted outside these times if it is not practicable to give between 168 and 192 hours’ notice, for example:

  • You will be at sea more than 192 hours (8 days) 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 (7 days) in duration.

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

The owner/master of the vessel must complete and submit the ENA form (along with all other required documentation) before arriving in New Zealand. COVID-19 vaccination status information for crew and passengers needs to be submitted as part of the ENA. The ENA is a legal requirement and the master is liable to prosecution for not submitting the ENA in the required timeframe and for not providing the ENA in the specified form and manner.

2. Complete the Advance Notice of Arrival (ANA) required under the Customs and Excise Act 2018

The small craft/yachts Advance Notice of Arrival (ANA) form needs to be completed by the owner/master of the vessel and sent to us at least 48 hours before arrival in New Zealand territorial waters – 12 nautical miles.

The ANA is a legal requirement and the owner/master is liable to prosecution for not submitting the ANA in the required timeframe and for not providing the ANA in the specified form and manner.

3. Complete the Inward Report

The Inward Report is to be completed by the owner/master of the vessel and provides information in relation to the vessel, its travel movements, any cargo, firearms, controlled drugs/medicines, stores, passengers and crew on board, craft details such as type of vessel, radio frequencies for Maritime NZ, other chattels on board and the ownership of the craft. The form must be completed in respect of all vessels and within 24 hours of arriving at a Customs place. An inward report does not need to include any information that has been provided as part of an ANA.

4. Complete the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) Masters Declaration

All vessels must comply with Biosecurity requirements for entry into NZ. The MPI Masters Declaration must be completed by the master of the vessel.

5. Complete the Border Cash Report (if applicable)

The Border Cash report must be completed if anyone is carrying NZ$10,000 or more in cash or equivalent – you must declare it on this form. This form is to be completed by the individual/s bringing the cash into NZ.

Complete the Passenger Arrival Card (on arrival)

A passenger arrival card is an entry requirement for every person on board. It is to be completed by all individuals arriving into New Zealand. This card will be provided on arrival into New Zealand for completion. A sample of this can be viewed here: Passenger Arrival Card (PDF 205 KB)

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

Pay the 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 and 2% for every month you don’t pay.

Restricted and prohibited items

You are not allowed to bring some items into NZ, and some require approval to import, including firearms and certain types of weapons. For more information visit the Prohibited and restricted items webpage.

You must declare any firearms prior to your arrival on the ANA.

Check you meet COVID-19 vaccination requirements

Passengers and crew on recreational vessels, yachts and small craft need to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 to travel to New Zealand, unless they are excused or exempt. New Zealand citizens, residents, Australian citizens ordinarily resident in New Zealand and those aged 16 or under do not need to be vaccinated against COVID-19 to travel to NZ. To find out more about vaccination requirements visit COVID-19's Vaccination requirements for travel to New Zealand webpage.

You need a digital vaccine passport or another form of electronic or paper document from a government health authority confirming you have had a full COVID-19 vaccine course.

Check your passport's first name and surname match your proof of vaccination documentation. If the names are different, ask your health provider to update your details.

The list of COVID-19 vaccinations New Zealand will accept for entry into the country including what is meant by ‘fully vaccinated’ can be found at COVID-19's Vaccination requirements for travel to New Zealand webpage.

People arriving by air to join a recreational vessel must meet the air border entry requirements. For more information visit COVID-19s International Travel webpage.

If you have recently tested positive for COVID-19

If you have tested positive for COVID-19 while overseas, you can travel to New Zealand as long as you have completed any isolation period you are required to, and you do not have any symptoms.

There is no requirement for crew or passengers on board private yachts or small craft to test for COVID-19 on arrival. However, if passengers or crew enter New Zealand, they will need to follow local COVID-19 health settings which may require a COVID-19 test if symptomatic, or if they are deemed a household contact and are required to self-isolate.

Voyage and preparing for arrival

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 in case you test positive for COVID-19 or are deemed a household contact in New Zealand and are required to self-isolate on-board.

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

Ports of arrival for recreational vessels, yachts and small craft

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.

Check back here for updates on authorised ports of entry.

Ensure you meet biosecurity requirements

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.

When you arrive

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

  • 2182 kHz
  • 4125 kHz
  • 6215 kHz
  • 8291 kHz
  • 12290 kHz
  • 16531 kHz
  • VHF Ch 16

Checking of vaccination documentation on arrival

Passengers and crew on recreational vessels, yachts and small craft will need to show proof of vaccination or exemption to New Zealand Customs at their port of first arrival. Crew and passengers will be requested to provide evidence of vaccination – a digital vaccine passport or another form of electronic or paper document from a government health authority confirming you are fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

For more information about vaccination requirements and how to provide proof of vaccination visit COVID-19's Vaccination requirements for travel to New Zealand webpage.

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

Arriving yachts that are here on a temporary basis may qualify to be entered on a C4G/Temporary Import Entry.  We need the following documents to clear your vessel on a TIE.

The following mandatory documents must be completed in full and emailed to yachts@customs.govt.nz:

  • Scanned copy of bio-page of passport (Skipper/owner/passengers/crew)
  • Bill of Sale (Purchase agreement with sale price)
  • Registration
  • Insurance
  • Full Photograph of Craft/Vessel

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.

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

While you are in New Zealand

Get to know the COVID-19 public health settings

New Zealand is operating the COVID-19 Protection Framework, also known as the ‘traffic light’ system.

The system helps us manage life with Omicron, while reducing the impact of future outbreaks. You can travel anywhere in New Zealand at all traffic light settings.

How to stay safe while travelling around New Zealand

There are some things you can do to protect yourself from COVID-19 while visiting.

Face masks

At some traffic light settings, you must wear a face mask on all flights and public transport, in taxis and ride-share services — unless you are exempt.

If you feel unwell while in New Zealand

If you feel unwell, call Healthline for free on  0800 358 5453 for advice, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

If using an international SIM, you will need to call +64 9 358 5453

If you need urgent medical help call 111.

If you test positive for COVID-19 while in New Zealand

If you test positive for COVID-19 while in New Zealand, you will need to self-isolate for 7 days on board. On a recreational vessel, yacht or small craft, everyone on-board the same vessel as someone testing positive for COVID-19 is considered a ‘household contact,’ and must self-isolate on board for 7 days.  

For information about isolation requirements, visit Health's COVID-19: Maritime Sector webpage.

For self-isolation advice visit COVID-19s How to self-isolate webpage.

Leaving New Zealand

Passengers and crew on departing recreational vessels 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:

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.

When we have approved your clearance, you must depart immediately and must not go to any other place within NZ or you risk a fine or prosecution.

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

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.

Passengers must complete a Border Cash Report if they are carrying NZ$10,000 or more in cash or equivalent – they must declare it on this form. This form is to be completed by the individual moving the cash out of NZ.

Remember to check the COVID-19 entry requirements for the jurisdiction you’re travelling to next. For more information visit COVID-19's Travelling from New Zealand webpage.

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 cash 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

Penalties

You may incur penalties if you breach New Zealand law, for example by not complying with public health requirements or Customs’ requirements, or failing to declare restricted goods or goods that exceed Customs’ allowances.

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.