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What is Excise?
Excise is a tax on alcohol, fuel and tobacco products.
Excise is a form of tax
If you make, sell or give away excisable items – alcohol, fuel and tobacco products – in New Zealand, we’ll charge excise duty on those products. You must also licence the area(s) where those products are made and stored.
Note: this is an overview. For full detail, please refer to the legislation.
- Customs and Excise Act 1996
- Customs and Excise Regulations 1996
- Customs (Application for Customs-Controlled Area Licenses) Rules 1997 (PDF 140 KB)
- Customs (Excisable Goods Entry) Rules 1997 (PDF 182 KB)
- Customs (Volume of alcohol) 2013 (PDF 49 KB).
Excise duty is generally payable on anything removed from or consumed in the licensed area, including:
- tasting samples
- promotional give-aways
- free supplies
- bonus supplies.
Excise and excise-equivalent duties table (PDF 93 KB).
Excise duty exemptions
We won’t charge excise duty on excisable items if they’re:
- exported immediately after they leave the manufacturing area
- moved to an export warehouse that you’ve licensed with us
- removed temporarily for a manufacturing process, and returned to the manufacturing area
- legitimate manufacturing samples, eg for laboratory/quality control testing.
If you’re making alcohol, tobacco or fuel products for your personal use:
- you don’t need to license your manufacturing area
- we won’t charge you excise duty.
If you share those products with anyone else, for free or as a sale, you become liable for excise duty. The criteria is outlined in the Customs and Excise Act 1996:
Buy duty-free alcohol
We won’t charge excise duty on alcohol if you’re going to use it for:
- museums, universities, hospitals and other approved institutions
- approved scientific, educational or other commercial/industrial uses.
You can also use duty-free alcohol to make products that don’t attract excise duty, eg using liqueurs to make liqueur chocolates. This doesn’t apply if you’re making beverages.
You must apply for a permit to buy duty-free alcohol or alcoholic beverages used to make products. If the alcohol has been denatured according to an approved formula, you don’t need a permit.
Duty-free alcohol permits
You must apply in writing at your local Customs office.
Your application should include:
- your organisation’s name
- the address of the premises where you’ll store the alcohol
- the amount and strength of the alcohol you’ll need each year
- what you’ll use the alcohol for
- the name and qualifications of the person using the alcohol.
If the alcohol is for commercial or manufacturing uses, your application must also include:
- evidence for why you can’t use denatured alcohol instead
- statements, where we require, that support your application – these might come from the Ministry of Health, Ministry for Primary Industries or properly-qualified food technologists
- a forecast of how much you’ll be using and when to show that you’re applying for a reasonable quantity.
Your permit will detail its terms and conditions. We may audit permits.