Infringement Notices FAQs


Why have Infringement Notices been introduced?

They replace the old petty offences regime (which ceased on 1 October 2018) because they allow a proportionate response to minor offending and are more cost and time effective to administer.

Who do Infringement Notices affect?

International arriving and departing passengers (air and sea), importers, exporters, excise manufacturers, brokers and Customs-controlled Areas.

When would I get an Infringement Notice?

You may receive a fine when you break the law or for non-compliant activity.  For example:

  • failing to declare tobacco or alcohol over the duty-free limit on your Arrival Card
  • refusing or failing to answer questions from a Customs officer about documents, records or your travel
  • importing prohibited goods
  • the contents of a parcel addressed to you do not match the description on the parcel declaration

What happens if I don't pay the fine?

You will get a reminder notice after 28 days, giving you a further 28 days to pay. If you don’t pay within the 28 days of the reminder notice, it will be transferred to the Ministry of Justice who collect the fine through the court.

Will I get a criminal record if I receive an Infringement Notice?

No. Infringement Notices are issued for minor offences that justify more than a warning, but less than a criminal conviction – it’s like getting a speeding or parking ticket.

Infringement Notices do not require any court action, and do not give you a criminal conviction.

Isn't this just revenue gathering?

No, the revenue collected from fines is negligible. Infringement Notices are a reasonable and effective means of helping Customs protect New Zealand. They are an alternative to prosecution, and once the fine has been paid, there is no criminal conviction.

I don’t think I should have been issued an Infringement Notice – what can I do?

You can to ask that the Infringement Notice be revoked or ask for a hearing in court, however, if you’ve paid the fine you can’t request either.

You must make the request before the Infringement Notice is transferred to Ministry of Justice (approx. 56 days from date of the Infringement Notice).

How do I make sure I don't get another one?

When buying goods online, check our website to see what types of things are prohibited - not allowed in New Zealand.

When returning from overseas, check you are not bringing prohibited items into New Zealand, and make sure you fill in your Arrival Card correctly - if in doubt declare it!

How do I request my Infringement Notice be revoked?

A request to revoke the Infringement Notice must be made within 28 days of the notice being issued to you. 

You can use Form NZCS395, or make a written submission, and send it to infringement@customs.govt.nz or Infringement Notices, PO Box 29, Shortland Street, Auckland 1140.

Under what grounds can I request my Infringement Notice be revoked?

Your fine may be revoked if you:

  • don't think an offence has been committed
  • didn't commit the offence, or
  • have a reason why the offence happened

What grounds do I have to request a hearing?

Use Form NZCS396, or make a submission in writing, and send it to infringement@customs.govt.nz or Infringement Notices, PO Box 29, Shortland Street, Auckland 1140

Can I make a part payment?

No, the fee is set and must be paid in full within the stated timeframe. We do not accept part payment.

You can seek a court hearing if you want to try to get the fine reduced; but be aware you will have to pay court costs and might not be successful.

How do I make sure I don’t get another fine (Infringement Notice)?

When buying goods online, check our website to see what type of things are prohibited – not allowed to be brought into New Zealand.

When returning from overseas you should also check you are not bringing prohibited goods into New Zealand, and make sure you fill in your arrival card correctly - if in doubt, declare it!

Why is the fine so high?

The $400 fine is consistent with Biosecurity New Zealand's penalty for failing to declare risk items at the border.  Fines send a strong message about the importance of protecting the border, and deter people from breaking the rules.

Why didn't you tell us earlier?

Infringement Notices were introduced as part of the implementation of the Customs and Excise Act 2018, with a six month education phase to inform the public and businesses about the changes before enforcement began.

Will more than one fine be issued if multiple offences have occurred?

A fine will be issued for any offence that occurs. However, if there are multiple offences in the same event, it’s likely that only one Infringement Notice would be issued.

Will Infringement Notices be issued to both a company and an individual employee for the same offence?

Potentially, but this would be unusual. A more likely situation is that a company has rules but the employee did not follow them – which would mean that the employee would receive the infringement. Another situation, which is less likely, could be that the company’s rules are non-compliant, and the employee follows those – in which case the company, not the employee, has committed the offence.

Can I get an Infringement Notice and an administrative penalty for the same offence?

No. The penalty will be the most appropriate penalty for the offence. We will not give two fines for the same offence.

If the error or omission is one that has not caused duty to not be paid/declared, or has caused an excess drawback to be claimed/to be paid, you will be liable for an administrative penalty of $200.00.

All other errors or omissions will be dealt with by the appropriate penalty - an administrative penalty or Infringement Notice, not both.