Commercial ships and cruise liners

If you’re coming into New Zealand as an operator/owner of a commercial or cruise ship, you must contact us first.


We need to know:

  • who you have on board
  • what cargo and other items you have on board
  • who will be staying in NZ
  • who and what will be leaving NZ.

Advance notice of arrival

At least 48 hours before you arrive in NZ waters, you must send us:

You may also need to supply other government agencies with documentation, including:

If you’re coming in on a cruise ship, you can find all the documents you’ll need in our Cruise Ships Pack .

Ports of entry

All commercial craft coming into NZ must report to a Customs port of entry.

You can arrive at a non-Customs port of entry only if:

  • it’s an emergency
  • you have written permission from Customs and MPI – you must organise this before you arrive in NZ.

When you arrive in New Zealand

If your craft is entering NZ for the first time, a Customs officer must clear you before anyone can leave the craft.

Customs and MPI officers process your clearance. You must give us:

You must also give us the following passenger declarations:

If you’re on a commercial ship carrying cargo or not, any commecial vessel must also give us a completed Form C1 Inward report (PDF 50 KB) including:

  • last port clearance
  • controlled drugs and firearms list
  • stores list.

The completed Inward Report includes tugs, fishing vessels, survey vessels, cargo vessels in ballast etc.

You must give the following information to other agencies:

Cruise ships

We, MPI and cruise ship operators will decide the best way to clear an incoming cruise ship. Options for clearance include:

  • on a wharf at a dedicated facility
  • on board, while the vessel is alongside
  • en route between the last port overseas, and the first port of arrival in NZ.

Cruise ship passengers don’t need visas if passengers and crew are leaving NZ on the same ship within four weeks. Anyone leaving NZ in a different way – eg. on a plane – will need to have:

The same rules apply for anyone who joins the ship in NZ (Immigration NZ).

Ship stores

Ship stores include:

  • food
  • cleaning products
  • alcohol and tobacco
  • spares and service parts
  • bunkers
  • general provisions for passengers and crew.

You can add to your ship stores while you’re in NZ. If you want to load any duty-free alcohol or tobacco, you must have our permission.

Email: ships.stores@customs.govt.nz a completed NZCS 325 - Requisition for Ships Stores (DOC 147 KB).

If you’re coming into NZ on a temporary import entry, you can only load duty-free items into your ship store as you’re about to leave NZ.

The amount you’re allowed is calculated as follows - your approved quota (see table below) x the number of crew and passengers x the length of the voyage – any duty-free alcohol or tobacco on board already.

The approved quota per person is:

  • beer – 6 cans or bottles per day (375ml or less per bottle/can), or
  • wine – 1 bottle (750ml) per day, and
  • spirits or liqueur – 3 bottles (1.125ml) per 10 days
  • cigarettes – 20 cigarettes per day or
  • tobacco – 250g per 10 days or
  • cigars – 5 (regardless of weight) every 10 days.

Cruise ships have different allowances. Contact your local Customs shipping office or local port agent for details.

When you leave New Zealand

You need a clearance certificate from us before you can leave NZ ports - Form C3 - Certificate of clearance (ships and boats other than small craft) (DOC 260 KB).

To get clearance, you must give us advance notice of departure. The owner of the craft, or person in charge, are the only people who can sign this - Form C2 - Advance notice of departure (ships and boats other than small craft) (DOC 148 KB) .

You must also email passenger and crew information to apicustodian@customs.govt.nz.

NZCS 355 and NZCS 342 – commercial ships 
NZCS 355 and NZCS 342 – cruise ships 

Passenger must complete:

You can only depart from an official port of entry. When you leave, you must go directly to the next place, listed on your certificate of clearance. You can’t call at any other NZ ports without getting our permission first unless there’s an emergency.

You must secure any firearms aboard.

We will usually clear cruise ship passengers at the port you’re leaving from.

If you need to be processed somewhere else, you must get our permission first. Contact our cruise vessel coordinator by: