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Customs and Immigration

The New Zealand Customs Service is the government agency with the job of making our borders safe and secure. Customs makes sure only legal goods enter and leave the country. The movement of people into and out of the country is checked by Immigration New Zealand. Immigration staff check the required paperwork and make sure that a person is allowed to enter the country.

Arrival cards

As a passenger arriving in New Zealand, you need to present a completed Passenger Arrival Card. This card asks for information related to immigration, biosecurity and customs requirements.

Items to declare

New Zealand's agricultural industries are free of many insect pests and plant and animal diseases found in other parts of the world. Part of the arrival card asks you to “declare” any goods that may be a biosecurity risk. You can face heavy fines or other sentences if you try to bring in restricted items and do not declare them.

You must declare if you have any of the following:

  • food of any sort
  • plants and parts of plants (alive or dead) 
  • animals (alive or dead) or products of animals 
  • equipment used with animals 
  • camping gear, golf clubs and used bicycles 
  • biological specimens.

Certain items cannot be brought into New Zealand at all or can only be brought in with written permission given beforehand. These include fruit, meat, honey, bird nests and reptiles.

Your arrival card and declared risk goods will be inspected by a Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) biosecurity inspector. Your bags may be sniffed by detector dogs, x-rayed or searched. 

For more detailed and the most up-to-date information visit the Ministry for Primary Industries website.


A passport is a travel document issued by the government. It is used for international travel and proves who you are and where you are from. Standard passports have your name, place and date of birth, photograph, signature, and other identifying information.

To enter New Zealand you must have a passport and it must be valid for at least three months past the date that you intend to leave New Zealand.


A visa is like a permit for a person who is not a citizen of that country. It allows them to enter the country and stay there for a limited time. As well as a passport, you may also need a visitor’s visa which allows you to stay in the country for up to nine months. This visa does not permit you to work for gain or reward while you are in the country. If you break any of the visa’s conditions you may be asked to leave the country.

There are different types of visas and not everyone needs a visa when visiting New Zealand. For full details go to the Immigration New Zealand website.

Another website you may like to visit is New Zealand Customs Service.

Customs and immigration will check your paperwork and make sure you are not bringing any dangerous items into the country. Image: New Zealand Customs Service.


Part of your arrival card will ask you to declare certain items that you are carrying. Image: Ministry for Primary Industries.


Everyone travelling to another country must have a passport. Image: www.us-passport-service-guide.com


A visa is like a permit for a person who is not a citizen of that country. Image: Wikipedia.

New Kiwi?: Do you have classmates who were born overseas? Ask them about their experience when arriving in New Zealand for the first time. Maybe some of your classmates have been overseas – ask them what they went through with Customs and Immigration processes at the airport?