Customs Guide for Personal Effects Shipping to New Zealand

Customs information and essential documentation for international removals to New Zealand

Whenever you make a booking with 1st Move International Limited, we will always advise you of the documentation required to not only ship from the UK, but also to enable you to import your household goods and personal effects in to the country which will become your new home.

However, here is a quick reference guide to give you a heads up on the documentation that you may require to import your items in to New Zealand.

Table of contents

What are Personal Effects?

The New Zealand Customs Service website has a very informative section on importing personal effects into New Zealand. They describe many items that can be imported as personal effects such as Furniture, house hold appliances, household electronics and clothing.

There are certain requirements, as well as the documentation that we will outline later, that also need to be met to enable you to import your personal effects into New Zealand without the need to pay Duty and GST.

  • You must have resided outside of New Zealand for the whole of the 21-month period preceding your arrival into the country (other than brief holidays or business trips)
  • The items you are importing must have been personally owned and used by you before you departed for New Zealand
  • The items must be for your own use and not intended for anyone else, for gifting or for exchange

If the household effects yours then Duty and GST (Goods and Services Tax) will apply.

There are other regulations regarding new / unused items which we will touch on later.

What Documents Are Required to Import Personal Effects into New Zealand?

Combined Customs and Quarantine declaration ‘Unaccompanied Personal Baggage Declaration’ (NZCS218)

This document will be sent to you when you make your booking with 1st Move International, and is mandatory to complete for someone who is importing their personal household items into New Zealand.

New Zealand Customs Service (NZCS) control border services in New Zealand, and this form gives them personal details of those bringing personal effects into the country as well as confirmation that there are no restricted/prohibited items within your shipment.

This isn’t a requirement to export your items, but we send it to you in advance of collection so that you can ensure that you do not pack any items that are prohibited for import into New Zealand.

MPI Personal Effects – Supplementary Declaration

Although this document isn’t mandatory, the information that you provide will assist the Customs inspectors in deciding the biosecurity status of your shipment. If you do not complete it, the result may be a physical inspection, at your cost, that may have been avoided.

Again, this gives details of the items packed within your shipment, highlighting any items that may be deemed risk (more details further on) or prohibited and any others that may result in an inspection to ensure that they are not contaminated and require treating, reshipping or destroying.

If you want more details on biosecurity for importers into New Zealand, then the NZ Government Business website has further information.

Packing Inventory

This is a list and description of the goods that are being shipped. We will provide a packed inventory for any items that we are packing on your behalf, but for any items that you pack yourself you will need to provide us with an inventory advising the description of the items packed. Not to worry though, we will provide you with a blank inventory to complete once you have made your booking with us.

You will need to present this to Customs in New Zealand for them to review before they release your personal effects shipment to be delivered to you.

Bill of Lading

Once your goods have shipped from the UK, the shipping line will confirm the sailing date and estimated arrival date. They will also provide us with the Bill of Lading, which is the transport document specific to your shipment.

This document includes the name of the owner of the goods as well as the addresses in the UK and New Zealand. We will issue an “Express Bill of Lading” which means that an original document isn’t required, and you can claim your shipment with the shipping agent in New Zealand using a copy only, which we will provide to you.


Whether you have a UK or New Zealand passport, or one issued elsewhere, we still require a good quality picture of the photo page. This must be in the same name as your shipping documents and be valid at the time of shipping.

Document Authorising Residence in New Zealand

There are several documents that you can present that prove you are authorised to reside in New Zealand and import your personal effects and household goods. Any of the following would suffice;

  • A New Zealand (or Australian) Passport
  • A current New Zealand Residence Visa or permit or a current New Zealand returning resident Visa or permit
  • A current permanent Residence Visa issued by the Australian Government
  • A current New Zealand Work Visa or Work Permit issued for a minimum of 12 months
  • A current New Zealand Work Visa or Work Permit issued under the Work to Residence policy or the Long-Term Business Visa/Permit category
  • A current New Zealand Visitor’s Visa or Permit that was issued for a minimum of 3 years

What Items Do I Need to Declare?

There are certain items that you are required to declare if they are packed within your personal effects, using the forms that we have outlined already. Examples of the kinds of items considered a potential risk to New Zealand include;

  • Food – all types, cooked, uncooked, fresh, preserved etc
  • Animals or Animal Products – including meat and dairy products
  • Plant or Plant Products – including flowers, seeds, bulbs etc
  • Gardening Equipment – and other equipment used with animals, plants or water
  • Items used for outdoor or farming activities – including footwear, camping equipment, sports equipment etc

Some risk items that you declare may be allowed to be imported into the country if the quarantine officer feels they present no risk (i.e. gardening equipment is clean of any dirt or residue) or can be treated (i.e. cleaned)

If they are deemed to be not allowable into the country they may be confiscated or destroyed. Any additional costs that are incurred will be payable by the importer before the shipment is released from Customs quarantine.

What Items Are Prohibited to be Imported into New Zealand?

There are certain items that are prohibited for importation into New Zealand, for an up to date list of these then you will need to check the New Zealand Customs Service website page on Prohibited and Restricted items.

To give you an idea of the types of items that are restricted, some examples are;

  • Drugs
  • Certain Weapons
  • Tobacco Products (these require a permit issued prior to import)
  • Some Mothball Products (more details here)

You may not be able to take some medicines or controlled drugs to New Zealand, NZCS has a guide on their website showing more details on taking medicine to New Zealand.

Can I Import Inherited Items Duty Free?

If you are left items of household goods or furniture in someone’s will, you are able to bring them to New Zealand duty free even though you have not owned them for 12 months.

You will need to provide a copy of the death certificate and either a letter from the Executor or a copy of the Will. The name of the beneficiary and his/her legacy must be specified, and this must match the name on the shipping documentation.

Am I Able to Bring New / Unused Items to New Zealand as Personal Effects?

You can bring items with you to New Zealand, but they must be declared as they will be liable for additional costs for import Duty and GST. You make the declaration on the NZCS218 form, advising the description of the item, the date of purchase and the price paid.

New Zealand Customs will allow for some depreciation dependant on the amount of time you have owned the item(s) and they will apply Import Duty (which is a variable rate dependant on the type of item) and GST at 15%.

Please note that the GST is payable on now only the value of the item, but the cost of shipping it and the import duty payable on it.

For more information you can take a look at the NZCS guide on Duty and Allowances.

Is There Anything Else I Should be Aware Of?

One thing to bear in mind, if you import personal effects into New Zealand more than 5 years after your arrival into the country, you will need special consent of a Customs Officer to import them duty free. Please check this before you ship them from the UK.

To import motor vehicles (cars, motorbikes etc) into New Zealand you will need the registration documents, and if these are not in your name you will need a bill of sale/invoice, along with a copy of your passport and proof of residency documentation. For more details you can visit Autoshippers New Zealand Car Shipping Guide

If you have a piano with ivory keys, you will need a Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) permit to take this with you to New Zealand. You must have an original with you when you clear the piano and it requires validation by border officials before exiting the UK. This can be a complicated process, so make sure the international removals company you are using have handled CITES permits before (1st Move International definitely have)

Shipping Furniture and Household Effects to New Zealand

When you make a booking with 1st Move International, we will immediately send you instructions on all of the information and documentation that we require to enable us to collect, pack, ship and clear your shipment through Customs in the UK and New Zealand.

Our team of international removals experts are on hand to help with any questions that you have, and to help make international removals to New Zealand stress-free as possible.

If you would like to get the ball rolling, you can ask us for a quotation by completing the form on this page, giving us as much information as possible. Alternatively, you can call us on +44 117 982 8123 / 0800 389 0784 during UK office hours or e-mail on

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We are extremely proud of our unique packing process. We are one of the only international movers in the UK that uses this tried and tested method to ship your treasured personal possessions overseas.

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