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New Zealand


Careline International Moving & Storage has compiled this information to help you to understand what happens when you ship your personal effects to New Zealand, and to inform you of procedures once your shipment arrives at the destination port. The information describes what you can do to help with the clearance of your goods through Customs, so please try and take time to read the information. Do Please don't hesitate to contact us if you require further clarification of any of the points outlined below - we are all available to help you.

Loading and Transit

If you are not sending a full house contents in an exclusive container your goods will be shipped by what is known as a 'groupage' service. This is a shipping container that is loaded with other personal effects shipments such as your own. When there are sufficient goods to fill the container, it is then booked on a vessel. This consolidation of shipments usually takes between one and four weeks depending on how much cargo is already available for the appropriate port of entry, and may vary during busy or quiet periods. The actual vessel sailing time is between seven and nine weeks depending on the port of entry.

Containers for Auckland are loaded the most often, with Wellington and Lyttleton (Christchurch) being the next most frequent. Direct services to Port Chalmers (Dunedin) are fairly infrequent, so to overcome this we usually load all shipments for the South Island in our Lyttleton containers. If your shipment's final destination is Dunedin, we cover the cost of moving it overland from Christchurch to Dunedin. Taking the consolidation period and sailing time together, your goods will usually arrive at the entry port some time between eight and eleven weeks after we receive them. You must then allow some time for Customs and MAF clearance, and for our New Zealand office to make suitable delivery arrangements with you.

This average transit time is subject to sailing dates which may sometimes be changed by the shipping lines without prior notification. Vessels can occasionally be held up due to port congestion or trans-shipment delays. Please take this into account, and allow plenty of time if you require your goods in New Zealand by a particular date.

Freight charges

It is to your advantage to ship your goods on a door to door basis. This means you do not have to pay again in New Zealand for port service charges, container uplift, unloading, Customs clearance and the final delivery to your residence. If you have paid to 'arrival port' only, you will have to pay these destination charges in New Zealand. We are a bulk buyer of destination services and we obtain these services at a rate less than a member of the public can expect to pay. Consequently, you will find that in most cases it is more expensive to ship to 'arrival port' and then pay the destination charges, than it is to pay initially for door to door shipment. Note that the term 'arrival port' is a shipping term that refers to the point to which freight charges have been paid. It does not mean you can collect your goods directly at the port to do your own Customs clearance. The whole container is consigned to our New Zealand office who will collect it from the wharf, haul it to their depot, and unload at their own bond store. If you have paid for a door to door shipment, the costs of uplifting the container from the wharf, New Zealand port service charges, haulage to depot, unloading, notification, Customs clearance, and delivery to your residence are covered. One charge that is not included in a door to door payment and must be paid in New Zealand is outlined in the next section.

MAF Clearance

New Zealand is free of many of the pests and animal or crop diseases which exist in some other countries. In order to ensure that this remains so, and to protect the livestock and agricultural industries, the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries (MAF) must clear all goods entering the country. With your arrival notification you will be sent a MAF Quarantine Declaration. You must fill this in, and on the basis of this form and your packing list or inventory, MAF will decide whether a physical examination is required or not. There are costs associated with this Quarantine clearance procedure, and the fees will be collected from all consignees by our New Zealand office.

The rates for MAF clearance are currently NZ$35.00 for shipments under half a cubic meter (18 cubic feet) and NZ$45.00 if half a cubic meter or over. It must be noted that this fee covers clearance only, and if the Ministry decides a physical examination is necessary, a further charge will be made which will range between NZ$40.00 and NZ$100.00 depending on the extent of the examination.

Goods that are likely to require examination are foodstuffs, animal products (e.g. skins, feathers, eggs etc.), plants, bamboo, wooden artifacts, saddles or other horse-riding equipment, camping equipment, sporting or garden equipment, vacuum cleaners, Christmas decorations, bicycles etc. Cane baskets will require fumigation for which you will be charged, and it may be best not to import them. If your shipment does not contain any goods of this nature, examination will probably not be required. Do not make false declarations on your form, as legal penalties can be imposed if you do. All shipments into New Zealand are subject to MAF clearance and the associated clearance fees.


If you have a vacuum cleaner amongst your goods, remove the dust-bag before shipping; if you have Christmas decorations, state what they are made of; if you have garden items, camping or outdoor equipment, bicycles etc. in your shipment, please ensure they are clean and free of any soil. If you do take any of these measures, you should note them beside the relevant item on the packing list or inventory. This may help to reduce the likelihood of, but not necessarily prevent, an examination by MAF. It may though, save you from having to pay for steam cleaning or fumigation, which MAF can order to be carried out if any of your goods are soiled.

All information in the above section is given for guidance only, and although we believe it to be correct at the time of writing, we do not accept any liability for errors, omissions, inaccuracies or misinterpretation. All charges, regulations and procedures are liable to change without notice.

Arrival in New Zealand

As soon as we load a container we send a 'pre-alert' advice to our New Zealand office at the port of entry. This means that when you call them, they can tell you when your shipment is due to arrive. Shortly before the vessel is due at the port of entry, an arrival notification will be sent to you together with documents which you must complete for Customs and MAF clearance. These include the Quarantine Declaration form and a Customs form - the Personal Baggage Entry. You have to complete these forms and return them to our New Zealand office for them to present to the relevant clearing authorities. When the vessel arrives at the port of entry, the container is collected by our New Zealand office and unloaded into their Customs bonded store where Customs and MAF clearance are undertaken. Deliveries in the main metropolitan areas will normally take place about 7 to 10 days after vessel arrival, assuming you have supplied all the necessary documents for MAF and Customs clearance. Deliveries to other inland destinations will take a bit longer, but you will be kept advised by our New Zealand office who will make arrangements with you for a suitable delivery date.

Customs Clearance

Your shipment must be cleared through Customs before you can take delivery. In order to clear the shipment you will have to complete and sign a packing list or inventory which we will supply you with, although for household removal shipments which include professional packing, our packers will make an inventory of all your goods for you. If you are packing your goods yourself, when we collect your shipment, please hand over the completed, signed packing list to our driver. We will then forward it with any other relevant documents to our New Zealand office in advance of the vessel arriving at the port. These documents will be presented to Customs on your behalf, together with a copy of your passport, which our New Zealand office will request from you when they send you the arrival notification. Remember that if you have paid for door to door shipment, the service of Customs clearance is included in the cost.

If you require any information or advice on local Customs clearance procedures, please feel free to contact us. We will be happy to give you the benefit of our knowledge, and will assist you with any queries you may have.

Customs Regulations

It is your own responsibility to ensure that you are aware of how current Customs regulations and your own personal circumstances affect the status of your shipment with regard to whether or not you will be liable to pay any duty or taxes on your shipment or certain items in it. At the time of writing, an immigrant taking up residence for the first time may import all personal effects and vehicles (vehicles must have been owned and used for over 12 months prior to shipment) free of duty and Goods and Services Tax (GST). Items excluded from this are tools and/or equipment used for business.

If you are a returning resident who has been absent from New Zealand for less than 21 months you will be liable for duty and GST on anything purchased or otherwise acquired while outside of New Zealand, except for clothing and personal wearing apparel. If you are a returning resident who has been absent from New Zealand for more than 21 consecutive months, you may import your personal effects (but not motor vehicles) free of duty and GST provided you are intending to take up permanent residence, and you have owned and used the goods before the date of your departure for New Zealand. To receive this concession on duty and taxes, you will be required to provide passport evidence of the length of your absence. (If you do not expect to be present when your goods arrive, see below for further information). An exception to this concession is that goods shipped directly after purchase to avoid taxes in the country of export, will not qualify for duty free entry unless you can establish that the goods have had personal use.

If you do have dutiable goods in your shipment, you may be asked by Customs to supply documentary evidence (e.g. sales receipts, invoices, insurance papers etc.) to ascertain your ownership of the goods, period of ownership, and their value. There is no duty free entitlement for unaccompanied tobacco or alcohol, and there are restrictions or prohibitions on certain other items.

Please note that the information in this paragraph is given for guidance only, and is not presented as authoritative or complete. You should check with New Zealand Customs for further information or advice, or for interpretation of Customs procedures and regulations. Information can be obtained from the Collector of Customs at the port of entry of your shipment.

  • Important: If you do not expect to be present in New Zealand when your goods arrive, you should attach to your packing list or inventory a letter addressed to whom it may concern in which you nominate someone, say a friend or family member, to receive the shipment on your behalf. You should also attach a passport copy showing the pages with your personal details and signature, any pages with details of your recent travels and the most recent New Zealand exit stamp, or if you are not a New Zealand resident, the page with your Visa stamp. This passport copy will help Customs to ascertain the length of your absence from New Zealand.

One of the requirements for duty free entry of goods is that the owner 'has the intention of forthwith taking up permanent residence in New Zealand.' If you are not present at the time of arrival of your goods, Customs will take the view that you cannot at that time fulfill this condition, and the person you have nominated to receive your shipment will have to pay to Customs a cash deposit equal to the full amount of duty and GST which would normally be payable on the goods. When you do arrive in New Zealand, this deposit will be refunded to you, provided you meet all the conditions for duty free entry of goods.

Finally, please feel free to call us or out agents in Auckland, Wellington or Christchurch if you require any further advice on any aspect of your shipment.


All information in this guide is given for guidance only, and although we believe it to be correct at the time of writing, we do not accept any liability for errors, omissions, inaccuracies or misinterpretation. All charges, regulations and procedures are liable to change without notice.

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