NZ Customs Departure Card Cancelled: What You Need to Know

2-minute read

Departure cards have been discontinued this month, and the information used to account for all travellers departing New Zealand will now be collected electronically.

You still have to meet some requirements to avoid problems.

Key facts and stats:
› In 2017, 6.5 million cards were completed.
› This represents around 100,000 hours of traveller time (which is around 12 years).
› Departure cards were introduced in April 1921
› Based on departure statistics, it is estimated over 132 million cards have been filled out since they were introduced

The removal of departure cards aligns with international best practice, enabling a faster and smoother travelling process.

New Zealand has international obligations to report NZD 10,000 or more in cash or financial instruments being carried out of New Zealand.  These obligations were catered for on the departure card. However, this is not something that can be transferred to the electronic system.

Therefore, travellers carrying cash or currency to the value of NZD 10,000 or more must see a Customs Officer at departures to complete a Border Cash Report.

Why do the departure cards need to go?

The main purpose of the cards was statistical.  Stats NZ has confirmed there are alternative sources of information and methods they can use to produce tourism and migration statistics, removing the need for travellers to complete these cards.

Few other countries have departure cards with the level of detail required by the New Zealand one.  They were originally used to process and account for all travellers departing New Zealand, but this is now done electronically.

Continuing with this requirement is inconsistent with the border sector vision to provide world-class facilitation for travellers.

How will information on departure cards now be collected?

Electronic systems will capture who is leaving New Zealand accurately. Tourism and migration statistics relied on departure cards, which asked travellers how long they had been in New Zealand and how long they intended to be away.

Stats NZ has switched to a new system that measures the actual time that travellers are in New Zealand and how long they are away. This approach is similar to Australia’s.

The Government will continue to collect the information required for the most critical functions of the card (border processing and key statistics) by electronic and other means.

This includes information in passports; departure date; actual time spent in New Zealand and actual time away.

NZ Customs Departure Card Cancelled What You Need to Know_1

What about arrival cards?

Removing the arrival card is more difficult. Arrival cards collect important traveller declarations that are used by border staff to manage immigration, smuggling and biosecurity risks. Officials are in the early stages of exploring alternative means of capturing this information, but there are no set timeframes.

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