Prohibited and restricted items
Some items are prohibited and cannot be imported into New Zealand, and some require approval to import.
You can’t bring any of these items into NZ:
- objectionable material contained on items like videotapes, films, records, CD-ROMs and in publications
- weapons like flick knives, butterfly knives, swordsticks, knuckle-dusters
- any weapon which is disguised as something else
- equipment for using cannabis or methamphetamine
- anything which you’re planning to use in a crime.
You need a permit to import these items:
- ivory in any form, including jewellery, and carvings
- tortoise or sea turtle shell jewellery, and ornaments
- meat or food derived from whales, dolphins, rare crane, and pheasants, or sea turtles
- medicines containing musk, or rhinoceros or tiger derivatives such as ground horn or bone
- carvings or other things made from whalebone or bone from other marine mammals
- cat skins
- trophies of sea turtles, all big cats, rare reptiles, cranes, pheasants, bears, antelope, and deer
- live species, including pet eagles, hawks, owls and parrots, many cacti, orchids, cycads, and cyclamens
- carnivorous plants.
You may not be able to bring some medicines into NZ, especially controlled drugs. This includes medicines containing pseudoephedrine.
You might be able to bring in prescription medicines if you can show us a valid doctor’s prescription.
Any pests or diseases that come in with your items could cause serious damage to New Zealand’s environment and economy.
You must declare any items that could be risky (Ministry for Primary Industries) on your passenger arrival card.
Risky items include:
- fruit, vegetables, meat, fish, poultry, honey, ingredients used in cooking, and all dairy products
- alive or dead plants and seeds
- wooden items
- alive or dead animals
- alive or dead animal products
- traditional/herbal medicines
- any shoes, sports or outdoor equipment you’ve used.
If you don’t declare these items, MPI might:
- fine you
- prosecute you.
Once MPI officers have inspected your items, they may return them to you. In some cases, they will need to treat your items first – you will have to pay for this service.
Animal and plant products
You may not be able to bring in some animal and plant products (Ministry for Primary Industries).
Children's crayons, finger paints, and watercolour paints
To protect children from toxic elements (such as lead, mercury and chromium) in their graphic materials, there are strict controls on importing children's water colour paints, finger paints, and crayons.
These materials must meet the conditions set in the Graphic Materials Group Standard 2009 which can be found on the EPA website. If you have any questions about the importation of these goods contact the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA).
The obligation is on importers to establish that the substances they are importing do not fall within the scope of the Hazardous Substances and New Organisms (HSNO) Act 1996 you are in any doubt you should contact EPA.
The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) is designed to prevent trade in endangered, threatened, or exploited species.
CITES covers alive or dead plants and animals, and any products made from them. This includes souvenirs.
You need a special permit (Department of Conservation) to bring these items into or out of NZ.
Equipment for smoking or taking drugs
You can’t bring methamphetamine and cannabis utensils and their parts, including any pipe with a heatproof bowl into NZ. This includes:
- bongs and hash pipes
- vapourisers and their parts
- roach clips with a pincer or tweezer
- any item for using methamphetamine.
Exception: Tobacco pipes aren’t included.
Firearms and weapons
You need an NZ Police permit to bring firearms (including airguns) into NZ. You must get the permit before you arrive here.
Some weapons are prohibited items, and you won’t be able to bring them in. These include:
- flick knives
- butterfly knives
- any weapon disguised as something else.
You can bring human ashes into NZ with you, but you must declare them. We recommend that you have a copy of the person’s death or cremation certificate with you.
If you send human ashes by post, you must declare on the postal declaration that the package contains human ashes. You must include a copy of the death or cremation certificate in the package.
See also Human Remains.
A publication is objectionable if it describes, depicts, expresses or otherwise deals with matters such as sex, horror, crime, cruelty or violence in such a manner that the availability of the publication is likely to be injurious to the public good.
This could include – but is not limited to – films, videos, computer games, DVDs, CD-ROMs, books, posters, music recordings, magazines, photographs, paintings, t-shirts and computer files.
Any publication or item that might be considered objectionable must be declared on arrival in New Zealand.
Importing or exporting objectionable publications, especially those dealing with the sexual exploitation of children or young people, promoting terrorism or violent themes, or sexual violence, is a very serious offence. You could be arrested and face up to 14 years imprisonment.
These penalties also apply to using the internet or social media apps to download and upload electronic files that are objectionable.
Bringing or importing other items such as sex toys or dolls that are considered to be indecent or obscene could also result in seizure and prosecution.
Radio transmitters and telecommunications equipment
Some transmitting devices interfere with radio or television broadcasts.
Before you bring in any of the following items, make sure they meet the NZ technical standards set by Radio Spectrum Management:
- dog-tracking devices
- radio transmitters
- cordless phones
- cellphones (mobile phones)
- baby monitor,
- similar equipment.
The importing of vaporisers that can be used for administering cannabis, regardless of the purchaser’s intention, is strictly prohibited under the Misuse of Drugs (Prohibition of Cannabis Utensils and Methamphetamine Utensils) Notice 2014. Under this Notice, importing these items is prohibited, and they are liable to be seized at the border and destroyed.
Customs is aware that there are companies offering these items online for sale in New Zealand, including some offshore-based websites claiming to represent companies based in New Zealand. Illegal vaporisers are liable to be seized when they are imported.
Prohibited and restricted exports
Some items are prohibited or restricted – you may not be able to take them out of NZ without a permit, or at all. These include:
- pounamu (greenstone) in its natural state
- some works of art.
If you aren’t sure whether you can take something out of NZ, please contact us.