New Zealand Arrival Card Goes Digital: What You Need to Know

3-minute read

UPDATE: October 2023

Travellers arriving into all New Zealand international airports now have the option to complete a digital declaration instead of a paper arrival card before travelling to New Zealand.

Travellers can complete a digital declaration online or via the NZTD mobile app. There is a paper declaration form available for travellers who cannot complete it online.

The New Zealand Traveller Declaration system collects travel, customs, immigration and biosecurity information.

According to NZ Customs, the phased go-live of the system at Wellington, Christchurch, and Queenstown airports shows it takes less than 10 minutes to complete – and it can be done before a traveller starts their journey to New Zealand.

The declaration is linked to a traveller’s passport and is automatically assessed when scanned on arrival in New Zealand.

“Over the past few months, we have tested the system and operational processes across all New Zealand international airports. These trials have proved the technology works and helped to prepare border staff for the introduction,” says Customs’ NZTD Senior Responsible Owner Sharon May.

“There’s already been a positive response to the New Zealand Traveller Declaration with over 20,000 travellers choosing to complete a digital declaration since the system has been available for people arriving at Wellington, Christchurch and Queenstown airports,” says Sharon May.

NZ Customs is delivering the New Zealand Traveller Declaration, working alongside the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (Immigration New Zealand), the Ministry for Primary Industries (Biosecurity New Zealand), and the Ministry of Health.

New Zealand Traveller Declaration (NZTD) Senior Responsible Owner Sharon May, says, “The NZTD will be an important tool to support border agencies protecting Aotearoa New Zealand. The declaration helps travellers understand and get ready for New Zealand border entry requirements before they arrive.”

Stuart Anderson, deputy director general of Biosecurity New Zealand, said,

“The New Zealand Traveller Declaration (NZTD) will be a boost for biosecurity.

“It will give better access to data to assess future risks. It will also provide a new way to pass on biosecurity information to arriving international travellers and it will enable us to focus on higher-risk passengers.”

The introduction of NZTD will be a phased approach starting with Christchurch and Wellington International Airports.

Travellers arriving into Queenstown Airport will be able to complete a digital declaration from 20 July 20.

Those arriving into Auckland Airport will be able to use the new system later in August.

A paper declaration form will continue to be generally available.

Maritime Arrivals

Travellers arriving on a small craft (such as yachts and recreational vessels) or specialist vessels will be able to complete a digital declaration from late August 2023.

Crew that are permanently disembarking a cargo vessel and all arriving passengers from those vessels will be able to complete a digital declaration from late August 2023.

Travellers (including crew) arriving by cruise ships or on a New Zealand Defence Force vessel will be able to complete a digital declaration later in 2023.

Helpful notes

• When the New Zealand Traveller Declaration is introduced, travellers won’t need to upload any documents, such as proof of vaccination status or print anything out.

• The earliest a traveller can submit their declaration is 24 hours before departing for New Zealand.

• A recent trial with more than 1,900 passengers found that around three-quarters of people completed the declaration within 10 minutes.

• Travellers can submit and make changes to their digital declaration up until they reach passport control in New Zealand.

• A paper arrival declaration form will continue to be handed out on board flights and accepted at the border for those who do not complete a digital declaration.

New Zealand Arrival Card Goes Digital: What You Need to Know_2

What you need to declare

Some items can carry harmful pests and diseases and need to be declared. This includes things like some foods, used outdoor equipment, animal and plant products.

You also need to declare medicines, tobacco, alcohol and if you are carrying $10,000NZD or more cash (or equivalent) into New Zealand.

Your travel declaration is a legal document. False declarations can lead to penalties, including confiscation of goods, a minimum instant fine of $400NZD, prosecution, imprisonment, and deportation from New Zealand.

If you’re unsure about what you can and can’t bring into New Zealand, check out the Biosecurity online tool.

Check if you can bring or send an item to NZ

How to declare items when arriving in New Zealand

• There are safeguards for travellers who do their best to complete a correct declaration from being given an infringement notice.

Under the Customs and Excise (Arrival Information) Amendment Act 2023, travellers will have a defence if the traveller took reasonable steps to make sure their declaration is materially correct. In other words, the error must be something more than a trivial mistake.

• What if a declaration has already been submitted but the situation changes, such as purchasing alcohol or tobacco products, or if food hasn’t been included on a digital declaration? Traveller can update their digital arrival declaration if they need to change any answers.

The traveller can also advise a border officer they wish to change their declaration to record such things as any food, cash over NZ$10,000, or other declarable item(s) they may not have included in their existing digital arrival declaration.

Visit the New Zealand Traveller Declaration website at for more information.

Source: The New Zealand Shipping Gazette and New Zealand Customs Service

P.S. Easy Freight Ltd helps New Zealand importers & exporters to save money on international freight and reduce mistakes by guiding how to comply with Customs and biosecurity rules. 

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