Contraband - NZ Customs

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Border Clearance Levy

Border Clearance Levy 

Record numbers of tourists are visiting New Zealand this summer and the number of international travellers is forecast to rise at a rate of around 3.8% per year, reaching 13.3 million by 2018/9.

More visitors mean the risk to our security and biosecurity grows.  To manage the larger volume of travellers, the government has introduced a Border Clearance Levy so that the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) and Customs can manage the resourcing of border clearance activities as passenger numbers go up or down.  This creates a more sustainable platform for border risk management services, and it is also a lot fairer to ask international travellers to fund the processes involved with reducing the risk which they create.

The levy is NZ$21.58 for air travellers and those on private craft, and NZ$26.23 for cruise passengers. It comprises an arrival and a departure fee.  The arrival fee is higher to reflect the comprehensive range of the immigration, security and biosecurity checks and assessments carried out on travellers coming into the country:

Arriving by:

  • air or sea                  $18.21
  • cruise vessel            $22.66

Departing by:

  • air or sea                   $3.37
  • cruise vessel             $3.57

Cruise ships passengers are charged a higher levy because of the additional biosecurity risk assessments MPI must complete for cruise ships at each port. 

The levy will form part of the ticket price when travellers book air travel or a cruise.  Given that the levy is less than 1% of an international airfare, it unlikely to put people off travelling to New Zealand.  Other factors, such as exchange rate fluctuations and economic conditions in a traveller’s home country, would have a much greater impact on their decision to travel to New Zealand.

The total government charges on travellers coming to New Zealand will still be lower than other comparable countries.  Our levy, when combined with other charges, is about NZ $20 lower than Australia’s and NZ$102 lower than the United Kingdom’s £71 long-haul passenger charge.

Anyone purchasing tickets and paying in full before 1 January 2016 for travel over the next 12 months will not have to pay the levy.  Travellers who do not have to pay the levy include:

  • children under two years old
  • transit passengers (who do not clear NZ Customs)
  • commercial aircraft and cruise crew members
  • travellers who arrive in, or depart from, New Zealand before 1 January 2017 who purchased and fully paid for their ticket before 1 January 2016.

The levy is fixed for 30 months and will have its first review in 2018. You can get more information about this levy here.