A complete guide to importing into New Zealand

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If you’re a business owner thinking of importing goods, you should know that there are specific customs laws in place. Depending on the country you’re importing into and the type of good being imported, your company may be required to have an import permit before any product can cross international borders. 

An import permit is an authorisation granted by a government or its agent allowing the legal importation of goods into the country. The requirements for obtaining an import permit vary between countries, since they are set on a national level, but typically involve paperwork and fees, and needing compliance with specific regulations. 

Generally speaking, there are certain types of goods that will almost always require a permit, such as firearms or ammunition, explosives, drugs, food products, plants and animals, hazardous materials, or anything with military or strategic applications. Depending on your goods, you may need additional permits or licences beyond the import permit as well. 

If you are looking to expand into the New Zealand market, it is thus crucial to understand the ins and outs of New Zealand's customs laws and regulations. This guide will provide you with an overview of the various requirements that must be followed when importing goods into New Zealand. 

How to import goods and products into New Zealand

1. Check if you are allowed to import the product

The first step is to check if your product is allowed to be imported into New Zealand. This can be done by checking the Prohibited and Restricted Import list for specific information about each product or a general overview of what products can or cannot be imported. You may also need an import permit depending on what product you are trying to import. For example, approval from the Ministry for Primary Industries is mandatory when importing certain types of food or agricultural products into New Zealand.

2. Declare your imports

Once you have determined that your product is able to be imported, you will need to submit an electronic lodgement beforehand to ensure a smooth clearance process. This can be completed through:

  • A Customs broker

  • A freight forwarder

  • The New Zealand Trade Single Window (TSW) for some lodgements

  • Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) software 

Make sure that the proper documentation is completed and submitted within 20 days of the item’s arrival. That being said, you can consider its mode of delivery to gauge when you should lodge your details. If it's by air, for example, you can do it a day before its arrival. On the other hand, if your goods are being delivered by sea, it is recommended to lodge the details of your imports at least five days in advance.

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Furthermore, the type of entry you need to lodge with Customs depends entirely on the value of the goods. If your goods are valued at less than NZ$1,000 or categorised as exempt-entry, you will need to complete the electronic cargo information (ECI) form. Value greater than this threshold requires additional administrative processing. In this case, a full import entry must be lodged along with obtaining both a client and supplier code from Customs in New Zealand.

3. Pay applicable charges and taxes for imported goods

Besides staying compliant with the requirements regarding imports into New Zealand, you must also consider any associated costs or taxes when bringing products into the country. These fees should always be taken into account when deciding whether or not to import goods, as they could significantly increase your costs. Whenever importing goods into New Zealand, you are required to pay Customs duties at the rate determined by the classification of these goods in the country's tariff. This tariff is based on the Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System (HS). Moreover, the Goods and Services Tax (GST) is applicable for most imported items which is usually charged at 15%. 

That being said, as New Zealand has trade agreements with several countries, your business may enjoy reduced duties applied to imports where eligible.

4. Have the necessary documents

Finally, there is also a range of required documents you will need to provide when importing goods into New Zealand. These can include the:

  • Customs Entry document

  • Certificate of Inspection

  • Insurance Certificate

  • Certificate of Origin

  • Commercial Invoice

  • Import permit or licence

  • Purchase order

Collectively, these documents are needed in order for Customs to identify the contents and be able to assess costs accurately. Any mismatches between documents and actual goods in the shipment can involve fines from Customs due to incorrect or inconsistent paperwork and result in shipping delays. It is, therefore, vital to ensure all documentation is accurate before proceeding with the import process.

Start importing with DHL Express

At DHL Express New Zealand, we understand that global shipping needs to be fast and efficient in order for your business to succeed. Our expansive global network and decades of experience give us the cutting edge that businesses need and expect when it comes to international express delivery solutions. Whether you are bulk shipping liquids or preparing a wine delivery, we will make sure your goods are delivered quickly and securely, with minimal fuss. As a customer of DHL Express, you will have access to our comprehensive range of services, allowing you to benefit from a tailored package that meets all your shipping requirements. Open your DHL Express business account today and start importing into New Zealand!