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Prohibited and restricted exports

Prohibited exports

There are restrictions on the export of protected goods and items such as greenstone in its natural state, wildlife, antiquities, and works of art. There are also numerous international resolutions governing the trade in – and export and movement of – a wide range of goods and substances. If you have any doubt about what you may or may not take with you out of the country, enquire at your nearest Customs office.

For further information, see export prohibitions and restrictions for a complete list of export prohibitions at the New Zealand border.

Protected New Zealand objects

  • Māori artefacts over 50 years old
  • bones, feathers, or other parts of the moa or other extinct NZ species
  • goods over 50 years old which have national, scientific, or artistic importance such as:
    • books, letters and other documents
    • parts of ships and aircraft
    • photographs and films
    • stamps and coins
    • traction engines
    • veteran and vintage motor vehicles
    • works of art
  • pounamu (greenstone). This prohibition does not apply to:
    • articles made from pounamu (for example, jewellery, pendants or sculpture containing pounamu)
    • consignments that are being exported by a single exporter and in which the total weight of pounamu does not exceed 5 kg.

Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES)

The Trade in Endangered Species Act 1989 allows NZ to fulfil its international obligations under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES). CITES is designed to regulate trade in endangered, threatened, or exploited species. It covers both the live plants and animals themselves, and products made from them such as those listed below, which can only be imported into NZ with a special permit. There are also corresponding restrictions on similar goods exported from NZ.

Note that these are not complete or comprehensive lists – if you have any doubts about whether your item requires a permit, contact the Department of Conservation at for more information.

Goods that require both import and export permits:

  • medicines that contain bear, tiger, turtle, musk, Aucklandia root, etc
  • elephant ivory – jewellery, carvings, tusks, etc
  • any whale/cetacean items, such as whalebone carvings, dolphin teeth, etc
  • big cat skins or coats
  • any item made from turtle meat or marine turtle shell
  • many big game hunting trophies
  • some orchids and cycads.

Goods that require an export permit:

  • medicines that contain orchids, seahorse, ginseng, etc
  • elephant ivory older than 1975, such as bagpipes and antique items
  • giant clam meat and shells
  • many types of coral – even those you pick up on the beach
  • plants such as cacti, some orchids, cyclamens, and carnivorous plants
  • many reptile items, such as boa/python skins, cobra wine, etc
  • shark teeth.

There are always exceptions. If you are in any doubt, please check with the Department of Conservation before importing or exporting any endangered species item. Find more information on CITES on the Department of Conservation's website.