Updated last year

New Zealand has a history of biological and ecosystem disruption. The introduction of non-native species like rabbits, rats and stoats in the 19th century made a significant, negative impact on the native New Zealand species. Knowing now what they didn’t know then, the country has become very strict on what outside plants and animals are allowed into the country with visitors, migrants and returning residents.

Biological material

You must check with the Ministry for Primary Industries to find out ahead of time what food, plant and animal items might be allowed into the country, as it is always changing and the customs site does not keep an up to date log. When you arrive at the border you must declare any biological items in your luggage on your landing card – failure to do so will result in a NZ$400 fine. These items include:

  • Any and all food products
  • Any whole or partial plants, dead or alive
  • Any animals, dead or alive, or any animal products
  • Equipment that has been used with animals.
  • Camping equipment and all used sports gear, including muddy boots
  • Biological specimens

When you declare these items, the border agents will take a look in your bag and determine if they are a risk or not. Some things may end up confiscated. Sometimes they will take your items to wash them if they have been used and have foreign dirt on them, so, if you prefer a quick search, then it is best to bring clean items with you.

In addition, as with all countries, there are various allowances and restrictions as to what goods you are able to bring with you into the country.

Tobacco & Alcohol

If you’d like to bring tobacco and/or alcohol into the country you must:

  • Be at least 17 years old
  • Have them on your person when going through Customs
  • Intend to either use them as gifts or for your own use
  • Not carry them in for someone else
  • Not plan to sell or exchange them once in the country

You are limited to the following amounts:


  • 50 cigarettes
  • 50 grams of tobacco
  • 50 grams of cigars
  • A mix of the three not exceeding a total weight of 50 grams


  • 4.5 litres of wine or 4.5 litres of beer
  • 3 bottles of spirits or liqueurs, each containing no more than 1125 ml.

 Good to know:

Chewing tobacco is completely prohibited in New Zealand


All controlled substances, i.e. cannabis, methadone and pseudoephedrine, are prohibited from entering New Zealand with the possible exception of a one month supply with a proven doctor’s prescription per private person. To be considered lawfully carrying a prescribed controlled substance you must:

  • be carrying it for yourself or someone in your care
  • declare that you have the substance on your arrival card
  • have a copy of the doctor’s prescription or a letter from your doctor detailing your treatment, the drug’s name, and the dosage
  • ensure the drug was supplied lawfully in your originating country
  • carry the drug in the original container
  • only have the maximum of a one month supply

All drug taking paraphernalia is strictly prohibited. Any evidence found that you are attempting to smuggle prohibited drugs into the country will result in imprisonment.

Cash & Goods

You may carry up to NZ$10,000.00 in cash. Goods purchased overseas for personal use cannot exceed a value of NZ$700.00. Duty charges for wearing and personal effects are usually waived, especially if you are visiting and plan to take everything back out of the country with you.

Vehicle & Household Items

If you are moving to New Zealand permanently, you may be bringing household items, heirloom items, motor vehicles, or even boats. Most of these can remain exempt from duty fees as long as you have lived outside of New Zealand for the previous 21 months, they were purchased and used by you in your home country for at least a year, you’ve arrived in New Zealand with authorised permanent residence, and you do not intent to sell any of the items within two years of living in New Zealand. Check the NZ Customs Website for more details.

 Useful link:

New Zealand Customs Service
Ministry of Primary Industries

We do our best to provide accurate and up to date information. However, if you have noticed any inaccuracies in this article, please let us know in the comments section below.