The Complete Guide to Importing in New Zealand

Nov 5, 2020
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By Staff writer

The New Zealand government has strict regulations about imported products in the country. Local authorities conduct thorough inspections to check for hazardous substances and possible explosives. This is to ensure the safety of the environment and Kiwis’ health, especially as the country leans further towards sustainability.

Before importing products for your business, make sure you know the basics, so you won’t have to deal with a lot of hiccups later on. We’ve compiled this handy guide about importing in New Zealand. Read on to know more.

What are the products you want to import?

Before purchasing from a supplier abroad, you should determine the products and the quantity that you need to import. Depending on products, local laws and regulations, importing and other logistics costs, and points of entry in the country may vary. Also, you may need to determine where you’ll use the items for: is it for resale, or manufacturing?

Will you use it for resale?

If you’re going to sell the imported product, it’s best to conduct some research beforehand. Will there be enough demand among Kiwis? Do you have any potential customers? Create a plan for your product reselling to be more profitable.

Will you use it for manufacturing?

If you’re using the item to manufacture another product, check if any local suppliers can get you the same quality products to save costs. Also, get an estimate of the quantity to import. This prevents you from outsourcing the products again and paying for importing costs again!

Can these items be legally imported in New Zealand?

Now that you have determined which products you need and where you’ll use it for, check if it can be legally imported in New Zealand. No one wants to spend the astronomical fees, only for the items to be held at Customs. 

What items are completely prohibited in NZ?

Usually, the NZ government allows a wide array of products, given that you have permits beforehand. They also require you to state the contents of the items because they need to know if it can pose a risk in the country.

Otherwise, the following items are completely prohibited to import:

  • Any objectionable material disguised as videotapes, films, and other records
  • Sharp objects like butterfly knives, and swords that can be used as a weapons
  • Equipment for using cannabis, marijuana, or methamphetamine

Do you need approval to import the item?

As mentioned, some items aren’t completely restricted; they simply need permits and approval beforehand. For example, if electrical appliances contain high-risk articles, you may need to get approval if you will sell them. If the item is already listed in the Electrical Equipment Safety System database, you need to list yourself as responsible for the product.

Other items that need permit are:

  • Jewelleries, ornaments, and carvings made from ivory and sea turtle shells
  • Food, meat, and medicine made from exotic animals like rhinoceroses and pheasants
  • Live species of any kind, including pet eagles, hawks, and parrots
  • Carnivorous plants

For a more comprehensive list of prohibited and restricted items, visit New Zealand Customers Service.

Can your business afford to import?

Importing is expensive. Aside from the importing costs, there are also overhead costs, which are often not taken into account. Add government taxes on imports, and your overall expenses can easily add up! 

Here are other costs and financial responsibilities you need to know before importing.

Exchange rate fluctuations

The value of New Zealand dollars in the global financial market changes every day. As an importer, you may pay lower when the NZ currency is performing well and higher when it isn’t. To avoid this, always ask for a quote written in NZD. This way, you won’t have to suddenly pay a huge amount of money than what you initially calculated.

Government charges

All imports have tariffs set by the government. Depending on the product and country of origin, your preferential tariffs may vary. This is on top of the duties, GST, and possible charges for the import.  Always take into account these government-mandated charges when calculating for the import prices of the products.

Logistics costs

Of course, shipping these products will involve different logistics charges. Aside from the shipping costs, you may also have to pay for insurance, storage, and freight charges. Depending on the period of the shipping and the time of the year, these costs may increase too.

Other additional costs

Overhead costs like broadband and mobile plan you use to contact the supplier, office power and energy, as well as freight insurance aren’t taken into account, but they can easily accumulate. These day-to-day costs can be expensive if you don’t manage them right from the start. Luckily, there’s a tool that can help you save on these utility costs! 

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