On your arrival


Passenger arrival cards, etc

Before you disembark from your ship or plane you will be given a New Zealand Passenger Arrival Card (PDF 32 KB) to fill in.

This Passenger Arrival Card must be completed before you get to passport control. On it you will declare what you are – or are not – bringing into the country.

You do not have to declare your clothing, footwear, jewellery, and toiletries – these are regarded as “personal effects” if they are intended solely for your own use.

You must tick ‘Yes’ in the Customs section of your arrival card if you are bringing any of the following into NZ:

  • Goods that may be prohibited or restricted, such as weapons, bongs, hash pipes, objectionable (indecent) materials, wildlife products or illicit drugs
  • Goods in excess of the $700 allowance and the tobacco and alcoholic beverages allowance
  • Goods for commercial, business, or trade purposes
  • Goods carried on behalf of another person
  • NZ$10,000 or more in cash, or foreign equivalent (you will be required to fill out a Border Cash Report).

Translations of the arrival card are available in the following languages:

Arabic, Chinese (Simplified), Chinese (Traditional), Cook Island Māori, Czech, Dutch, FarsiFijian, French, German, Hebrew, Hindi, Indonesian, Italiano, Japanese, Korean, MalayMāori, PortuguesePunjabi, Russian, Samoan, SomaliSpanish, TagalogTamil, Thai, Tongan, Urdu, Vietnamese.

Your Passenger Arrival Card must be completed in English.

Questioning

You must answer questions about the goods in your possession, and produce your identity documents. It is an offence not to do so.

You may get questioned because we want to verify you are a legitimate traveller. A Customs officer might ask you a range of questions to verify who you are, why you are travelling, and what you are carrying with you.

You can ask our officer to explain why they are asking a particular question, if you need that clarified. You also can request a translator or interpreter if that will help.

Screening and baggage search

After clearing passport control and collecting your baggage, head straight for the exit marked on your arrival card or your eGate ticket.

Screening

If you have nothing to declare, you can carry straight on through – although you may be stopped at the discretion of a Customs or Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) officer.

If you do have goods to declare – or there is something you are unsure about – then you should present yourself voluntarily to Customs.

If you have organic goods to declare which may be agriculture risks, or if you are unsure about it, you should go to an MPI officer. For further information on what to declare or dispose – visit the MPI Biosecurity website

You may not leave the arrival hall until you have completed all Immigration, Customs and MPI Biosecurity formalities that may be required of you.

Baggage search

Customs officers and MPI Biosecurity officers may search the baggage of any traveller. During this process, the contents of your bags may be removed and examined. Sometimes an officer may use a detector dog to assist with the examination, an x-ray machine, or do a drug swab test. Please note that x-ray machines will not damage the contents of your bag, such as unexposed film. The only time x-ray machines might damage film or other material is after repeated exposure.

It is always better to declare items you are unsure about, rather than running the risk of getting caught with something which is prohibited.

Let us know if there are items of special personal significance that need to be handled carefully. If you have concerns about your privacy, please raise this with the officer.

Electronic devices

Items such as mobile phones, iPads, Android tablets, hard drives, laptops, and digital cameras may be examined. An officer can ask for your password or ask you to enter it. We do not keep your password or alter your personal data.

If we need to detain your device for further examination, an officer will explain this process to you.

Personal search

An officer may conduct a personal search if they suspect a person is concealing unlawful goods, or goods on which revenue must be paid, on or about their body.

The officer will explain your rights if this type of search is needed. An officer of your gender will carry out this search in a private room, and another officer will be present as a witness.

Communication

Photography, filming, recording or use of mobile phones is not permitted in the search area for security and privacy reasons.

If you need to contact someone who is waiting for you, please tell the officer and they will consider this.

All our officers are required to protect your privacy. They will not answer questions about you or your whereabouts if your friends or families approach them directly in the waiting area, unless you have given us approval at the time. 

Amnesty bins

If you know you have something prohibited in your possession, or are in doubt about it, you have the option of getting rid of it before entering the Customs and Biosecurity areas. You will find Amnesty Bins for this purpose located at all NZ’s international airports. They are there for the safe disposal of risk goods – such as the half eaten orange in your handbag.

Things to be wary of bringing in

It is illegal to import most foodstuffs. This could be something as simple as a piece of fruit, a sandwich, preserved sausage or a cheese snack. High-risk items include fresh fruit and vegetables, egg cartons, all honey and bee products, straw, dried flowers, seeds, cane/bamboo/rattan items, pine cones, potpourri and other organic matter.

Restricted items you must declare include feathers, bones, tusks, furs, skins, hunting trophies, stuffed animals and reptiles, unprocessed wool and animal hair, items made from animal skin (eg, crocodile handbags) and equipment used on animals including riding equipment.

You will not be allowed to bring into NZ coral, clam, turtle and tortoise shells, products of endangered species or ivory in any form, unless you have a CITES certificate to allow you to do so.

You must also take care when importing wood products, golf clubs, sports equipment, camping gear and any other items such as shoes and boots that might have soil and dirt on them.

Generally, all items that would normally be used outdoors will be examined to make sure they are free from soil and other contaminants. It is best to make sure they are thoroughly cleaned before entering the country.

The items listed here represent the most common threats to NZ. But this list is not exhaustive. Go to prohibited and restricted itemsfor more information or contact the Ministry for Primary Industries.

Feedback

We expect our officers to be professional and respectful at all times. If you would like to provide feedback or raise a concern while you are in the search area, please ask to see a supervising Customs officer at the time.

To do this later, email feedback@customs.govt.nz or complete our online form for other ways to get in touch.