All you need to know about New Zealand

Immigration control

08.03.2018 Kateřina Reehová

Because New Zealand is a very isolated country, local immigration department pays big attention to who is coming across the borders and because it has many endemic animals and plants, it also keeps an eye on imports of all substances that could endanger the local ecosystem.

So be prepared to show all the required documents and answer any inquisitive questions.

What and how to prepare?


First of all, be ready to show all the required documentation. You probably won’t even be able to get out of the airport without it. What not to forget:

  • Passport
  • Visa
  • Return flight ticket or flight ticket out of the country (or enough money to buy one)
  • Bank account status (show that you have enough money to stay in New Zealand which is ordinary NZD 4200 for working holiday visa – it is different for some countries- check status for your country! Or NZD 350 per month per person for travel visa)

If you have a travel visa you should also have your travel plan at hand.

Luggage content

Upon entering the country, you must declare everything you bring with you. You should receive an information card to fill in from the aircraft crew. If that does not happen, you can get it right at the airport after the arrival. The questionnaire includes your personal details, passport and flight number, and agreement about you knowing what you carry in your luggage and about taking full responsibility for the contents inside. Then follow a number of questions about the content of your luggage: answer truly yes or no to all the questions.

If you carry the goods, it does not automatically mean it will get confiscated, but you have to go through more detailed checks. Get ready for this if your luggage contains any of the items listed below:

  • Food

If you want to avoid the problems, eat any homemade snacks before checking or throw it away. It includes all the sandwiches, fruits, and vegetables. Store-packed food should be ok. But if you are not sure, it is always better to ask than to get a fine.


Luggage content

  • Alcohol

For one person over the age of 18, you can bring 4 bottles of wine or beer or 3 bottles of spirits or liqueurs with a total maximum of 1,125l. However, if you carry more than three bottles of spirits, you have to pay a fee, even if you carry only the permitted amount of a total of 3, 375 liters of spirits in these bottles. So if you carry five 500 ml bottles of alcohol, you have to pay a fee. It is thus worthwhile to bring a larger bottle.


  • Cigarettes

Cigarette import is limited to 50 cigarettes or 50 grams of tobacco or 50 grams of cigars, or a combination of these three with a maximum weight of 50 grams per person over 18 years of age.


  • Money in cash

If you are bringing 10,000 NZD or more to the country, you must declare the amount on the arrival card. For more information check the external article about Allowances and charges.

Luggage content

  • Plants

Forget about plants and seeds, and throw them away if you have one otherwise someone else will do it for you.

  • Wooden products
  • Soil

Your outdoor equipment shout is dirty from the clay which can contain some dangerous bacteria therefore thoroughly clean the drifts, tent, and backpack before entering New Zealand.

  • Outdoor and sports equipment

As was said above, it is primarily about pollution. All you have to do is clean before leaving and keep in mind that these items may be checked, so do not put them on the bottom of your backpack. These are not only tent or track sticks, but also wetsuits or snorkels.

  • Animal products

Say goodbye to all animal product like milk, honey, yogurt, eggs, bones, or anything of animal origin. You do not get to bring them into the country. So leave them straight home.


If you are not sure whether you can bring something into the country, look at the complete list of forbidden items right on the Immigration Office website.

Control process

The first check at New Zealand is the main one. They ask you a few questions according to what you have checked in the questionnaire and will write a note on the form. Depending on the note, you are then assigned to the individual controls. The whole process may be a bit lengthy (it depends on what is being controlled for). In any case, be aware of delays, especially if the first landing location in the country is not your final destination and you have to catch the next flight. Therefore it is better to buy the next fly tickets with sufficient time reserve.


If the check controller finds in your backpack something of the forbidden items you did not declare (doesn’t matter if it is just by mistake) you will get a fine of NZD 400, which you have to pay within 14 days.

It can be quite a lot of money for something such as a forgotten apple in the side pocket of the backpack so carefully check your bag before you start the control. In the event of a major violation of the rule and smuggling of prohibited articles, a fine should be up to NZD 100,000, 5 years of detention or deportation.

If you pass through this control successfully, you just won! You are finally officially in New Zealand and your adventure can begin.



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