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Relocating to New Zealand

All You Need to Know about Relocating Your Household Goods and Pets

If you are planning to relocate to New Zealand, there is a lot to know on the country’s strict Customs rules, tightly controlled borders, and required documents to first enter the country with your belongings. You can also expect some difficulty in bringing your pets into the country or may not be able to import them at all. We cover everything you need to know on relocation to New Zealand.

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Knowing how to relocate to New Zealand might save you from some unexpected challenges, as you may find the country’s customs regulations challenging.

All of your belongings need to be declared and inspected when first arriving in New Zealand. The country’s tight borders might prevent you from bringing some of your possessions with you or have you risk them being confiscated or destroyed. In New Zealand, many items can be considered risk items, some require permits to import into the country, and others may be strictly forbidden. You can also expect some difficulty when bringing pets into the country, or you may not be allowed to import them at all.

What else does it take to relocate to New Zealand? In terms of health requirements, not much, as long as you have all your vaccinations in order.

Overall, the government websites are fairly informative when it comes to listing regulations, however, there is more information you should know before deciding on your shipping arrangements. In this relocation guide, we cover all relocation steps from moving and shipping your household goods to required documents and customs restrictions and allowances.

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Moving and Shipping Household Goods

If you have questions on how to move household items and belongings to New Zealand, you should know from the start that there are many rules to follow. New Zealand is known to have unique and strict requirements on shipping household items and belongings, with many restrictions being imposed on what you can and cannot move into the country.

How to Ship Household Items and Belongings to New Zealand?

You will need to declare the content of your household goods with the necessary documentation to the Ministry of Primary Industries (MPI). Also, whether you plan to ship your belongings by air or sea, you must go through inspection at the border to identify any risk goods you may bring with you.

Here is an overview of what you need to know about shipping your belongings to New Zealand:

  • You need to fill a passenger arrival card, a required document that holds your personal information and declares all the goods you bring with you.
  • You must declare all items that are considered “risk items” by the MPI, which will be inspected upon arrival.
  • Many items are prohibited or require permits to import into New Zealand. Strict control means your items may need to be cleaned, quarantined, and, if they are considered hazardous, destroyed.
Required Documents for Shipping your Belongings: Passenger Arrival Card and the NZCS 218 Form

Some countries ask non-citizens to hand in an arrival card when first coming into the territory, and New Zealand is one of them.

The passenger arrival card is an individual form that has to be submitted individually by all non-citizens, including children. In it, you will answer questions about who you are, what the purpose of your travel is, how long you intend to stay in the country, and what you are bringing with you. You do not need to declare personal items, such as clothing, jewelry, footwear, or toiletries, but all other goods need to be identified in this document (which is covered further in this article). Failing to identify any goods, may result in you being fined or prosecuted.

The good news is, you do not need to look for or print out this document yourself. It will be handed out by the crew on your ship or plane to New Zealand for you to fill it out during your trip. However, you can familiarize yourself with the form beforehand if you wish.

The passenger arrival card seeks to speed up the process of arriving in the country, but if you are shipping your belongings to New Zealand, you still need Customs clearance for all your goods. You will need the following documents:

  • The form NZCS 218: Unaccompanied Personal Baggage Declaration, completed
  • Your passport and evidence that you are allowed to live in the country
  • A full inventory of the items you are bringing into the country
  • If you are bringing any risk items, a personal effects supplementary declaration(recommended)
  • Any additional permits you may require for your items, such as:
    • permit to import firearms (NZ Police)
    • The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) permit (Department of Conservation)
    • Medicines and Medical Devices Safety Authority (Medsafe) permit (Ministry of Health)
    • The shipping arrival papers, such as Bill of Lading, Airway Bill, or Arrival Advice.

You need to email these documents to your nearest Customs office. After you have submitted all of these papers, you will receive clearance from the MPI.

If any of your declared items are prohibited in New Zealand, these may either be:

  • inspected and returned to you
  • re-shipped
  • destroyed at an approved facility
  • treated at an approved facility. In this case, you will need to make arrangements to pick up these items.

In any case, fees and charges may apply so make sure you follow all the requirements to avoid losing your belongings or being fined.

The time of arrival of your belongings

You should try to arrive at the same time as your belonging, to avoid any setbacks. However, in case your belongings are going to arrive before you do, you must authorize someone else to clear your items for you.

This means the authorized person will need a permission in writing from you, and a photocopy of your passport (the biographical page). But keep in mind that if someone else clears your items for you, you may need to pay GST (Goods and Services Taxes) and duties on your items.

Customs Regulations in New Zealand

Custom regulations in New Zealand are very strict, since the country takes careful measures to prevent harmful pests and diseases and protect its biodiversity. All items you import to New Zealand need to be cleared with New Zealand’s Customs and Quarantine, a service known as Biosecurity New Zealand.

More than knowing what to pack when moving to New Zealand (you won’t have trouble finding all the items you need once you are there), you need to know what not to pack.Some items are strictly forbidden to import into the country, others may require a permit, and some are listed as risk items, which means you will have to declare them, to avoid being fined or even prosecuted.

What Items are Prohibited or Restricted in New Zealand?

The following items are strictly prohibited to enter New Zealand:

  • objectionable material on items like videotapes, films, records, CD-ROMs, or other publications
  • equipment for the use of cannabis or methamphetamine
  • Weapons which are:
    • disguised as something else
    • flick knives, butterfly knives, swordsticks, or knuckle-dusters
    • pepper spray (which is considered a weapon in New Zealand)
  • things that can be used to commit a crime

Some items are not forbidden, but its entry in the country is restricted. For these you will need a permit, and in some cases an appropriate treatment, like fumigation. These are:

  • any form of ivory (including jewelry, and carvings)
  • tortoise or sea turtle shell jewelry, 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

Other items may be listed as risk items. These must all be declared on your passenger arrival card, otherwise you may be fined or prosecuted. These include:

  • Food (fruits and vegetables, meat, other foodstuffs)
  • Plants or seeds
  • Wooden items
  • Animals or animal products
  • Traditional or herbal medicines
  • Any shoes, sports or outdoor equipment that has been previously used.

What are the Customs Allowances in New Zealand?

You are allowed to bring alcohol and tobacco with you, as long as you are 17 or older. There is a limit to the amount that is duty-free, but you can surpass that limit if it is for personal use only and you pay a duty fee.

The duty-free allowance on alcohol is:

  • 4.5 liters of wine or beer, and
  • 3 bottles of spirits or liqueur — each bottle can hold up to 1.125 liters (if you bring more than 3 bottles of spirits or liqueur, you have to pay a fee, even if it is under the stipulated amount).

As for tobacco, you may bring up to these quantities duty-free:

  • 50 cigarettes
  • 50 grams of tobacco products
  • 50 grams of cigars, or
  • a mix of all 3, as long as it is not more than 50 grams.

You can find more information on customs duty on alcohol and tobacco by visiting the official government website.

Importing Prescription Medicines, Money, and Other Goods

Medication that does not require a prescription does not have to be declared, but all prescription medications do. You should have:

  • The prescription, or a letter from your doctor stating that you are being treated with the medication
  • The medicine in its original packaging, with your name on the label, and strength and dosage details
  • No more than 3 month’s supply (or 6 months for oral contraceptives)

If you wish to bring cash into New Zealand, any amount over 10,000 NZD (6,660 USD) or equivalent in foreign currencies, has to be declared. Also, if your goods are worth more than 700 NZD (460 USD) (excluding your clothes, jewelry, and toiletries), you need to declare them and pay duty fees or Goods and Services Taxes (GST).

There are also restrictions on the use of wood packaging for shipping goods, so it is a good idea to check the complete list of items who have any type of restriction in New Zealand, to make sure you do not have any setbacks with this part of the relocation process.

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Home Good Storage

When first arriving in New Zealand, you may find yourself in need of long- or short-term storage. Whether your new home is not ready yet, or you are downsizing and need extra space for your existing furniture, there are many options to cover your storage needs in New Zealand, and you should not have a problem finding storage companies close to where you are moving.

If you are staying in some of the biggest cities, such as Wellington, Auckland, Christchurch, or Hamilton, you should find many storage companies, with many options to choose from.  Some offer rooms, others have modules or stainless-steel containers. Whichever service you pick should only depend on what type of features or added services you are looking for. However, when choosing your storage unit, take note of additional factors.

All companies should have security measures in place to protect your home goods, such as pin codes, locks, or alarms. Some companies may offer extended services, such as 24-hour access to your storage unit, or flexible leases for long-term or short-term storage. It may also be a good idea to consider getting insurance for your belongings in New Zealand. Although storing your home goods generally means these will be safe, the country is prone to natural disasters, such as earthquakes and volcano activity, and insurance should cover any damages.

Remember that the prices will vary depending on the size of the unit you need, and most storage services work on a quote basis.

Vaccinations and Health Requirements for New Zealand

The vaccinations required for New Zealand are the standard.

You need to have your routine vaccines, which are usually the ones you get as a child. These include measles-mumps-rubella (MMR), diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis, varicella (or chickenpox), polio, and the yearly flu shot.

You are also advised to check with your doctor if you need additional vaccinations, such as for Hepatitis A and Hepatitis B. It is recommended to get a doctor’s appointment to sort out your health requirements at least one month before traveling, to avoid any setbacks.

Aside from these standard vaccinations, there are no other health requirements for immigrants moving to New Zealand.

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Moving with Pets

The regulations for moving to New Zealand with pets are quite strict. Some countries are not allowed to have a pet imported into New Zealand at all, while most other countries and territories require a permit and quarantine to do so. You can find all information on pet relocation in this section, including which animals are and are not allowed in the country and all the necessary requirements.

Can you Bring your Pets to New Zealand?

To import pets into New Zealand, your pet must come from an approved country (see topic 5.3). If your country is listed as approved, you will need different permits (more about them further in this section) depending on the category of your country.

If your country is not on the list of approved countries, you are not allowed to bring your pet into New Zealand. If this is the case, you have two options:

  • You can move your pet to an approved country on the list, where it will have to stay for six months and meet the necessary requirements for the veterinary certificate of that country.
  • You can submit a request to include your country or territory on the list of approved countries, but keep in mind this process involves some bureaucracy on the part of both governments.

Besides cats and dogs, the only three species of animals that are allowed to enter New Zealand are:

  • chinchillas from Great Britain
  • rabbits from Australia
  • guinea pigs from Australia

Which Pets you cannot Bring into New Zealand?

Some dog breeds are strictly prohibited to enter the country:

  • Brazilian Fila
  • Dogo Argentino
  • Japanese Tosa
  • Perro de Presa Canario
  • American Pit Bull Terrier

All hybrid (or mixed) breeds are also prohibited, with the exception of Bengal cats for which you will need a document that proves five generations of ancestry.

If you are bringing a dog into New Zealand, more restrictions apply if you are entering from a Category 3 country. In this case, you cannot bring a dog into the country if:

  • It is under 9 months old
  • It has been diagnosed with Brucella canis or Babesia gibsoni
  • It is more than 42 days pregnant at the time of shipment

What are the Requirements to Import Pets into New Zealand?

All the requirements to import pets into the country are set by the Import Health Standard (IHS). Here is an overview of the general rules:

  • All pets have to be inspected upon arrival in New Zealand, regardless of where you come from.
  • Every pet must have a microchip that meets the ISO standards.
  • Every time your pet is examined, vaccinated or receives treatment, the microchip needs to be scanned and recorded.
  • You will also need a permit and a minimum of ten-day-quarantine (unless you are moving from Australia or Norfolk Island).

Taking your Dog or Cat to New Zealand

If you have checked that you meet all the requirements, you can then follow the necessary steps to bring your pet into the country.

In general, you will need to:

  • Book a quarantine facility approved by the Ministry of Primary Industries (MPI).
  • Apply for a permit to import from the MPI a minimum of 20 working days in advance of the date you require the permit.
  • Declare any medication the animal is taking.

You can find a list of all the forms that you need to import a pet into New Zealand, which come with detailed instructions on how to fill out and submit them. Follow the links below for more information on:

Importing Other Pets into New Zealand

Other pets that are allowed in the country, besides dogs and cats, are chinchillas from Great Britain, and rabbits and Guinea pigs from Australia.

If you are an owner of one of these pets, you must:

  • Comply with the import health standard (IHS).
  • Check that your rabbit or chinchilla or guinea pig is eligible for import into New Zealand.
  • Use a pet exporter­—this is recommended by the MPI.
  • Have your original veterinary certificates and supporting documents from the exporting country signed and stamped.
  • Apply for a permit from the MPI at least 6 weeks before your animal leaves for New Zealand.
  • Declare any medication your animal takes.
  • Pay the fees and charges that apply to your type of animal.

Consult the official government website for all the information on importing rabbits, guinea pigs, and chinchillas to New Zealand. You may also bring horses and aquatic animals into New Zealand, which have its own importation requirements.

Do you want to relocate? If you have never moved abroad, the process will be overwhelming, and if you have, you know the burden that lies ahead. Whatever stage you are at, InterNations GO! can help you with a complete set of relocation services, such as home finding, school search, visa solutions, and even pet relocation. Our expert expat team is ready to get your relocation going, so why not jump-start your move abroad and contact us today? Best to start early!

Updated on: July 02, 2019
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