Items to declare

New Zealand has very strict biosecurity procedures at our international borders to prevent the introduction of harmful pests and diseases. All risk goods must be declared or be disposed of in marked amnesty bins at air and sea ports. If you're unsure – declare.

What you need to know 

To make sure your arrival in New Zealand goes smoothly you'll need to know about:  

  • Passenger Arrival Cardsthese are usually given to you to complete by your crew on your way to New Zealand. The cards tell you what we consider are 'risk goods'
  • declaring all risk items on your card – goods like food, plants, wooden products, soil, water, outdoor equipment, and animal products. Declared risk goods may then be inspected
  • disposing of undeclared risk goods in marked amnesty bins on your arrival
  • prohibited and restricted items like products from endangered animal or plant species
  • infringement fees, fines and penalties for not declaring risk items on your Passenger Arrival Card.

Included on this page:

Declare or dispose

Watch Officer Goodboy explain New Zealand's main biosecurity requirements and the importance of declaring or disposing.

Video – Pawder Patrol (1:39)

[A title “Border Patrol” appears above a conveyor belt of suitcases, then changes to read Pawder Patrol. A computer-animated dog, dressed as a biosecurity officer, stands behind the conveyor belt. He fumbles with a microphone clipped to his collar then walks toward the camera.]

Officer Goodboy: "Is here fine? I’m a bit far away…should I come a little closer?"

[A hand appears from behind the camera indicating that he should stop.]

Cameraman: "No, stay there, stay, staaaaay."

[The hand disappears, and a title appears – Officer Goodboy, Biosecurity Officer.]

Officer Goodboy: "Uhh, well…I’ve been working as a biosecurity officer for about a year now. But sometimes it seems more like 7!

[The camera pulls out to show a conveyor belt in front of Officer Goodboy, which carries packages and a suitcase.]

"My job’s to sniff out the stuff people forget to declare or dispose of.

[Officer Goodboy’s nose starts twitching. He presses the button to stop the conveyor belt, opens the suitcase, sniffs around, and pulls out an apple with his mouth.]

"Like these…

[He spits the apple into his paw.]

"In my line of work, all fruit and veggies are considered rotten, since they could hide diseases and pests harmful to New Zealand’s clean and green environment.

[He tosses the apple into a bin labelled “Dispose here please”. He sniffs the bin, then dives in headfirst and starts pulling out different foods.]

"Eggs, meat, honey, cooking ingredients. Even herbs, seeds and spices need to be de…de…de…declared!

[He sneezes, which sends him flying out of the bin in a cloud of spice.]

"Gets me every time.

[A moving conveyor belt carries a dirty tramping pack and bedroll.]

"Used outdoor equipment does too.

[Officer Goodboy sniffs some dirty outdoor equipment then turns up his nose. He points at the backpack.]

"Brrr. I don’t know what that’s been in, but that is not allowed! If they haven’t been declared though, you’ll be fined $400. Which, as we say in the industry, is ruff.

[He waits, then comes closer to the camera.]

"Hey, hey, hey. Take a few tricks from an old fella like me. Save yourself a heap of trouble by throwing any risk items in the airport amnesty bins after landing.

[A bin labelled “Dispose here please” is shown. Officer Goodboy ducks down and grabs a form – a passenger arrival card – in his mouth.]

"And be sure to fill out one of these puppies.

[He pulls the form out of his mouth with his paw. The form is covered in slobber.]

"And if you’re not sure what to do, just ask an officer like me, or my handler, who probably won't expect a treat afterwards.
[A title appears that says 'Declare or dispose your items. Avoid a $400 fine'. Logos for the New Zealand government and MPI are also shown.]

[Officer Goodboy holds out the form then shakes it.]
"Sorry, you might want to wipe the slobber off that one."

[End of transcript]

You must declare risk goods

When you arrive in New Zealand, you'll have to complete a Passenger Arrival Card and declare any biosecurity risk items. The Customs website has an example of the card.

Note, the Passenger Arrival Card is a legal document. If you make a false or incorrect declaration – even by accident – you are breaking the law and you can be fined or put in prison.

It's not possible for us to list all the goods considered a risk. This is because an item's risk isn't always the same. It depends on things like the country it comes from, its ingredients, or packaging.


Use our tool to help you find out

We've got a tool to help you quickly get an answer about whether your food or other item is allowed into New Zealand. We don't have everything listed in the tool but it covers the food and other items we most frequently get asked about. The tool will also tell you whether there are any weight or quantity restrictions.

Types of risk goods

Your Passenger Arrival Card lists the kinds of items considered a potential risk to New Zealand:

  • Any food – cooked, uncooked, fresh, preserved, packaged or dried.
  • Animals or animal products – including meat, dairy products, fish, honey, bee products, eggs, feathers, shells, raw wool, skins, bones or insects.
  • Plants or plant products – fruit, flowers, seeds, bulbs, wood, bark, leaves, nuts, vegetables, parts of plants, fungi, cane, bamboo or straw, including for religious offerings or medicinal use.
  • Other biosecurity risk items – including animal medicines, herbal medicines, biological cultures, organisms, soil or water.
  • Equipment used with animals, plants or water – including for gardening, beekeeping, fishing, water sport or diving activities.
  • Items that have been used for outdoor or farming activities – including any footwear, tents, camping, hunting, hiking, golf or sports equipment.

Note that:

  • on arrival in New Zealand, your bags may be sniffed by detector dogs, x-rayed or searched.
  • detailed information about the requirements for bringing goods to New Zealand is in documents called import health standards.

What happens when you declare risk items?

Some of the risk items you declare may be allowed into the country:

  • if a quarantine officer at the border is satisfied your items pose no risk
  • after treatment of the risk items. 

However, some items may not be allowed into the country under any circumstances and may be confiscated or destroyed.

Items that require treatment are sent to private independent treatment companies. You can collect items sent for treatment at a later date.

Find out more about risk items

Inspecting and assessing your risk items

MPI quarantine officers will make a risk assessment of your declared items by asking you more questions or through a visual inspection. Sometimes they will need to refer to legal documents called import health standards. In general, if there is not an import health standard (IHS) for your item, it can't be brought into the country. (Import health standards are not generally for specific items but are more generic. For example, there is not an import health standard for milk but milk is covered in the IHS Specified foods for human consumption containing animal products as a "dairy product").

For items that are covered by an IHS, the standard gives information including:

  • packaging requirements
  • countries the item can come in from
  • any paperwork required with the item
  • any treatments the item may require prior to coming to New Zealand or on arrival.

Note that import health standards can change without notice. For example, if there was a disease outbreak overseas.

Failing to declare

People failing to declare biosecurity risk goods – even by accident – may be instantly fined an NZD$400 infringement fee. Anyone caught smuggling a prohibited or risk item could:

  • be fined up to NZD$100,000
  • face up to 5 years in prison
  • be deported.

Make sure you declare or dispose any risk goods. If in doubt, ask a quarantine officer when you arrive at the airport.

Find out more

Who to contact

If you have questions about what to declare, email

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