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Making the decision to up sticks and move to the other side of the world is the start of an exciting relocation adventure. From choosing a new home in New Zealand, to applying for visas and packing possessions from your current abode, there are plenty of relocation tasks to occupy both your mind and time. At Crown Relocations, we move around 250 families from the UK to New Zealand each year, and understand how hectic a trans-Pacific move can be. Below are some key facts to make moving your belongings to New Zealand a smooth process.

What can I take?

First time immigrants, as well as native New Zealanders who have been living abroad for more than 21 months, are permitted to import ‘household goods and personal effects’ without incurring duty and sales tax.

The household goods banner covers all manner of possessions including: furniture, electrical items such as television sets, linen and bedding, crockery, cameras and clothing.

However, in order to qualify for duty and sales tax exemption there is a requirement to show that:

  • you are entering New Zealand with the intention of taking up permanent residence in the country.
  • you have owned and used the goods prior to shipment.
  • the goods are for your own personal use.

Duty in New Zealand is subject to the visa status of each importer. For example, for those entering the country for short term relocations of less than 12 months, using a visitor’s visa or work visa, no concessions are applicable and all relevant local duties and taxes will be charged upon import.

Restricted items

Contrary to popular belief, you can import alcohol when relocating to New Zealand, in fact you are able to import the equivalent of a standard household liquor cabinet duty free. If you are looking to ship a larger quantity of alcoholic goods, such as a wine cellar, New Zealand requires evidence to prove that the collection is genuine. This can range from proof that the wine has been amassed over a long period of time to membership of a wine club. New Zealand officials also require a detailed list of each wine being imported.

The importation of firearms to New Zealand is also strictly controlled. In order to import any firearm a police permit is required. If you are the proud owner of a collection of ornamental firearms, you will still need to comply with these conditions.

Motor vehicles can be imported into New Zealand, provided they comply with specific Land Transport Safety Standards regulations. An interesting point to note is that vehicles are required to be spotless. Far beyond a quick spruce up, this actually means that a thorough clean needs to take place in order to remove all traces of mud, dust and grass from the vehicle before it enters New Zealand. All elements of the vehicle from behind hubcaps to its undercarriage need to be cleaned. Some people opt to steam clean the vehicle prior to shipment, however, this does not guarantee that it will not also be ordered for steam cleaning upon arrival, so if you choose this method of cleaning, you may end up paying twice for the pleasure.

It is also worth noting that wooden items are restricted in New Zealand. This is less applicable to modern furniture which is often treated or varnished, but any natural, untreated woods or materials such as bamboo or wicker come under heavy scrutiny. In cases where such items have been imported into the country and quarantine are unhappy or unsure of the “purity” of the items, you are given the option for the item to be fumigated, after which it will be returned to you, or it can be destroyed. These actions are both at the cost of the importer and inspections are mandatory so it is worth bearing in mind when deciding what to take and what to leave behind.

Prohibited items

There are a fair few items that are prohibited from importation into New Zealand, ranging from those you would anticipate such as indecent films and cannabis pipes, to more unexpected items like bee keeping equipment. Any attempts to import prohibited items will cause significant delays to your shipment. The items will also be seized by local customs officials and not returned.

As with most of the world, it is illegal to import drugs into New Zealand. Even prescription medications including heart drugs, diuretics and sleeping pills are heavily restricted. If you require such medications, upon your arrival in the country obtain a letter from a New Zealand doctor stating the necessity of these medicines for your wellbeing, or provide a prescription from a doctor in the UK. Even if complying with these conditions, only three months’ supply can be imported.

Whilst certain firearms are permitted for import with a police permit, the importation of any weapons which are ‘designed to give the appearance of another article’ is prohibited. This includes flick knives, sword sticks and knuckle dusters.

A quirk of New Zealand customs regulations is the import of radio transmitters, including cordless telephones. The country uses technical standards and frequencies that are not widely used in other parts of the world and imported radio transmitters can cause harmful interference to New Zealand’s radio services. Although radio transmitters are not prohibited outright, the use of products which are incompatible with New Zealand’s frequencies can lead to prosecution and confiscation, so we advise leaving such items behind where possible.

Customs rules

Although your belongings are likely to be shipped a while before you travel to New Zealand, we recommend that you sync your arrival times. This is because New Zealand customs requires that you are present in New Zealand for the arrival of your shipment, or that you arrive within 20 days of the shipment’s ETA.

You are not, however, required to be present at the port of entry for your shipment’s arrival.

Customs clearance can take up to seven working days for air shipments and up to 15 working days for those that have come by sea.

A final note on shipping your belongings to New Zealand refers to paperwork. Ensure that all relevant inventories, permits and documents are easily accessible for your shipment, a lack of or incorrect paperwork can cause many problems but this can be easily avoided.

To start your moving process click here to fill out a moving quote.

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