Items that you can and can’t take when moving to New Zealand

Moving within the same country can be a daunting thought, but moving to a new country is another matter entirely.  However, with careful planning and knowledge, the process of international moving will go smoothly and your new life will begin.

When moving to New Zealand, all personal effects are exempt from duty and tax as long as you have lived outside New Zealand for over 21 months.  Inspection or holiday visits are fine. You must have owned and used the items you are bringing, and state that they are for your own personal use.

What Personal Effects Should I Take? Take into account the following items when planning your international removals to New Zealand


You will obviously be taking your clothes with you.  Pack clothes for the season you will be arriving in and ship the rest, remembering that New Zealand is renowned for having four seasons in one day.

Electrical Goods

New Zealand uses the same voltage as the UK but their maximum current is 10 amps rather than 13 amps.  You must, therefore, check carefully before shipping items such as kettles, hairdryers and toasters.

Large electrical items, such as fridges and washing machines, will work in New Zealand.  These items are quite pricey to buy in New Zealand so it’s worth considering shipping them.

Modern televisions which support PAL B/G will work in New Zealand.  Landline phones will also work as the connection point is identical.  If you have a cordless phone, then check the frequency compatibility.

DVD players, games consoles and computers should all work as long as the power usage is 2.4kW or less.  Unless you have a multi-region DVD player, you won’t be able to play DVD’s which you buy in New Zealand as they use Region 2.

Shipping a Car

Shipping a car to New Zealand is a complex and costly operation, so unless you have a very special vehicle that you can’t live without, the general consensus of opinion is to buy a car when you arrive.

If you decide to ship your car when moving to New Zealand, have a look at the New Zealand government website for comprehensive information. To summarise:

  • – You must have owned the vehicle for at least 12 months
  • – You cannot sell the vehicle for at least 24 months
  • – Your vehicle needs to meet New Zealand’s technical standards
  • – You must provide documentation to prove the above
  • – Once you have everything ready, you can ship your vehicle
  • – When your vehicle arrives, an entry certifier will check it and all the documentation


Taking your beloved pets with you to New Zealand is not a difficult process as long as you follow the guidelines set out by the New Zealand government.  It’s advisable to use a pet travel company to ensure all the rules and regulations have been followed and the documentation is in order.

Briefly, your pet needs the following:

    • – A microchip
    • – Must be over 3 months old
    • – Must be disease free
    • – Must have lived in your country or a listed country for at least six months
    • – Must go into quarantine for 10 days on arrival in New Zealand



Which Personal Effects Need Special Attention or are Banned?

New Zealand, like Australia, has very strict rules on what can and can’t be brought into the country.  Protecting the environment and its biodiversity is of paramount importance to New Zealanders.

Prohibited Items

  • – Narcotics
  • – Pornographic material
  • – Certain weapons, such as flick knives and knuckle dusters
  • – Animals, insects, fish, reptiles, birds, etc
  • – Firearms
  • – Milk, meat and eggs
  • – Noodles and rice
  • – Fresh fruit and vegetables
  • – Coral, ivory, snakeskin or whale bone – including ornaments, jewellery, souvenirs and handicrafts
  • – Clam, turtle and tortoise shells
  • – Cat skins or coats
  • – Carvings or other things made of whalebone
  • – Medicines using musk, horn or bone
  • – Cannabis utensils

Items to be Declare on the High-Risk List

The following is a list of items on the high-risk list.  These items must be declared and can be subject to inspection, quarantine and cleaning – all at your expense.  To avoid these items being destroyed, carefully clean and disinfect them before packing.  Any item which has been in contact with soil or water, such as shoes, diving equipment and sports equipment, must be thoroughly cleaned.  The same goes for items which have contained food, such as saucepans, containers and fridges. A good tip is to put all your high-risk items in one clearly marked place, so should customs want to inspect them, you will know exactly where they are.  Customs charge by the hour, so the less time spent hunting, the better for your bank balance.  The New Zealand Customs website gives you in-depth information on what you can and cannot bring into the country.

Here’s a list of high-risk items:

  • – Any food – cooked, uncooked, fresh, preserved, packaged or dried.
  • – Animals or animal products – including meat, dairy products, fish, honey, bee products, eggs, feathers, shells, raw wool, skins, bones or insects.
  • – Plants or plant products – fruit, flowers, seeds, bulbs, wood, bark, leaves, nuts, vegetables, parts of plants, fungi, cane, bamboo or straw, including for religious offerings or medicinal use.
  • – Other biosecurity risk items, including – animal medicines, biological cultures, organisms, soil or water.
  • – Equipment used with animals, plants or water, including for gardening, beekeeping, fishing, water sport or diving activities.
  • – Items that have been used for outdoor or farming activities, including any footwear, tents, camping, hunting, hiking, golf or sports equipment.


To find out more about international removals to New Zealand check out our ultimate guide to moving to New Zealand.

20 responses to “Items that you can and can’t take when moving to New Zealand”

    • Sending Sinustat capsules or any sinus medication to New Zealand is possible but subject to strict regulations. You must distinguish whether the medication is prescription-based or over-the-counter, as this affects the allowed quantity and documentation needed. Generally, a reasonable amount for personal use can be sent. It’s important to declare these items to New Zealand Customs and potentially provide a prescription or doctor’s note. For the most seamless process, ensure the medication is clearly labeled, and consider checking with Medsafe, the New Zealand Medicines and Medical Devices Safety Authority, for any specific requirements or approvals needed before sending.

  1. Can I bring used tools such as spanners, sockets and also I’m a qualified locksmith so bringing a lock pic gun and bump keys?

    • Bringing used tools like spanners and sockets to New Zealand is generally permissible as part of your personal effects when you move, provided they are thoroughly cleaned to remove any soil or organic material, in compliance with New Zealand’s strict biosecurity regulations. These measures are in place to prevent the introduction of pests and diseases into the country.

      However, when it comes to specialised locksmith tools like a lock pick gun and bump keys, the situation is more nuanced. While professional locksmiths can possess and use these tools legally in New Zealand, there are regulations regarding their importation and use to consider. These tools could be considered controlled items, and their importation might require you to prove your professional qualifications and the legitimate use of these tools in your work.

      Steps to Follow:
      Biosecurity Compliance: Ensure all tools are cleaned thoroughly to meet biosecurity standards.
      Documentation for Locksmith Tools: Be prepared to provide documentation proving your professional status as a locksmith and the legitimate use of the specialised tools for your work.
      Contact New Zealand Customs: Before shipping, contact New Zealand Customs Service to inquire about any specific requirements or restrictions on importing locksmith tools. They can provide guidance on the necessary documentation and any declarations you need to make.
      Check with Professional Bodies: It might also be beneficial to contact local locksmith associations or regulatory bodies in New Zealand for advice on importing professional tools and on working as a locksmith in New Zealand.

  2. Hi I’m bring some tools related to my work and DIY what do I need to do. They are packed in tool boxes. Anything I need to do prior shipping. Thank you.

    • Hi Rob,

      We would suggest that you make sure they are nice and clean, free of any dirt, saw dust etc and ideally rust. Make sure the draws they are packed in are also clean, sometimes people clean the tools but forget to clean the draws. Also Make sure you have an inventory of them all. If you use a strong smelling cleaner, this will instantly give a good impression to the inspection agents.

      John Mason.

  3. Good day
    We are moving to New Zealand and would
    A bit of advice, I have a high pressure washer, would this be a problem to take over?

    Thank you

      • Hi John,
        I am holding a partners visa, my wife is currently studying in NZ and im planning to go there, just want to ask if i can bring over our used appliances like tv , portable speaker, and folding bike as well when i go there, if yes would there be a tax i need to pay? need your advice Thank you.

        • Yes, you can bring your used appliances like a TV, portable speaker, and a folding bike to New Zealand as part of your personal effects under a partner visa, typically without paying tax. These items should be ones you’ve owned and used for some time (usually at least 12 months) and are intended for personal use, not for sale. Ensure everything is clean to meet New Zealand’s strict biosecurity standards, especially the folding bike, to prevent the introduction of pests and diseases. For electrical items, verify they comply with New Zealand’s electrical standards. Remember to declare all items upon arrival and have evidence they’ve been in your use to qualify for tax exemptions.

  4. Good afternoon
    I’m planning on taking my 4×4 Jurgens Explorer caravan,
    my Vaaljapie tractor and possibly my 1946 Studebaker project pick up with me when immigrating. Would you recommend this and if so, what are the exact and correct procedures ?

    Kind regards


    • Importing your 4×4 Jurgens Explorer caravan, Vaaljapie tractor, and 1946 Studebaker project pick-up to New Zealand requires navigating a few key areas due to strict biosecurity laws and vehicle import regulations. Firstly, every item must be thoroughly cleaned to remove any soil, plant matter, or pests to meet biosecurity requirements. Your vehicles and caravan need to comply with New Zealand’s safety and environmental standards, which might involve inspections and modifications.

      You’ll need to seek import approval from the New Zealand Transport Agency (NZTA) and prepare comprehensive documentation, including ownership proof and a detailed shipping inventory. Upon arrival, customs duties and taxes may apply, and these items will undergo further inspections to ensure they meet local roadworthiness standards. Classic vehicles like your Studebaker have specific import conditions, especially if they’re intended for road use.

  5. Hey there, John!
    How are you doing today? Could you lend me a hand with something? You see, I have some workshop tools, both power and hand tools, as well as some laser cutters that I want to send over to New Zealand. I’ve taken really good care of them and made sure they’re free of any dust or dirt. I’m not sure about the regulations regarding shipping power tools to NZ, but I looked it up and couldn’t find anything concrete. Could you help me out with this? I’d really appreciate any help you could give me. Thanks a lot!


    • Shipping your workshop tools and laser cutters to New Zealand involves a few key steps to ensure compliance with local regulations:
      – Cleanliness: Make sure all items are thoroughly cleaned to meet New Zealand’s biosecurity standards, which are strict to protect their natural environment.
      – Regulations and Standards: Check with New Zealand Customs Service and the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) for specific import regulations, especially for power tools and laser cutters. They may have electrical compliance or safety standards your tools need to meet.
      – Documentation: Prepare accurate and detailed documentation, including a packing list and a declaration of cleanliness.
      – Inspection: Be prepared for possible inspection by the MPI upon arrival to ensure biosecurity compliance.

  6. I’ve been considering moving to New Zealand from Australia and I see soil as a high risk. I have a lot of plants mostly potted peonies that I would love to bring with me and just wondering if there’s a way they can still come through if they go through a screening process of some kind?

    • Hi Debra,
      Yes you can, however any garden items are highly likely to be inspected. Therefore it must be free of any debris, dirt, rust and thoroughly cleaned.

  7. Hi my daughter will be immigrating to New Zealand can she take a set of AMC Cookware pots. This is stainless steel based. To clean shoes etc is there a special type disinfectant to use.

    • Hi

      Yes the AMC cookware pots will be fine. With regards to clean shoes we always recommend “Milton Sterilising Fluid”

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