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Travel Guide > Australia & Oceania > New Zealand > Getting in & out

Quarantine Regulations In New Zealand

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New Zealand has very strong biosecurity laws. The economy is based on agriculture and importing even small quantities of food, as well as unprocessed animal or plant materials is tightly controlled. These restrictions are designed to prevent the introduction of foreign animal and plant diseases and pests. Do not think you can get away with bringing items in by not declaring, all hand and checked luggage will be x-rayed on arrival as part of the entry procedures.

Take care with any items of food that you have obtained during your travel, many people have been caught and fined as they did not declare fruit items they were given as part of an in-flight meal and retained for later consumption. The best advice is to declare any item you think may cause problems - biosecurity control border staff may confiscate and destory the item, but you will not have to pay a fine or even face criminal prosecution. Even if you haven't declared an item on your arrival card, you can still advise staff when you get to the border check of any item without incurring any fine.

At ports of international entry, both the Agriculture and Customs Services may inspect passenger baggage and confiscate and fine for any prohibited items. There are air-side amnesty bins available to cater for accidental importation.

Items that must be declared include: any kind of food; any plant material; any animals, animal material or biological specimens; dirty or soiled sports gear, footwear, and used camping gear and anything that may have been in contact with soil, been used on a farm or has been used with animals. If declared, the owners of dirty items are often required to clean them thoroughly, if not declared fines are often applied. Expect random inspections by sniffer-dogs - you may need to have your luggage inspected if you have had food in it recently that the dogs can smell.

Commercially-packaged or processed food is usually allowed through by the Agricultural services, but you can still be fined if you do not declare them. If you are unsure it is best to declare any questionable items as the immigration officers will be able to tell you if it needs to be cleaned or disposed of before entry. Some items may be allowable such as wooden souvenirs but be taken for sterilization or fumigation before being released to you. You may be charged a fee for this.

On the spot fines of $200 are issued for not declaring controlled items. The law provides for deliberate breaches to receive a fine of up to $100,000 or a prison term of up to five years. Either declare items as required or dump them in the amnesty bins before you reach customs. If you have difficulty with the arrival card, most airline staff are able to assist you, there are also officials at the major airports air-side who can assist.

In addition, importation or possession of most recreational drugs, including cannabis, is illegal and results in arrest. If found guilty, you would be subject to a range of penalties from; hefty fines for minor offences to lengthy imprisonment for larger offences, after which you would be deported and prohibited from re-entering.

Type: Travel Tip
Location: New Zealand

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