Hefty new fines for New Zealand Customs breaches

The new infringements were announced in October.
The new infringements were announced in October. Photo credit: Getty Images

Passengers will face instant fines of at least $400 if they breach any of the new Customs infringement offences.

You can expect to have to fork out for accidentally making a mistake on an arrival document or using your phone in the security area.

The new list of 70 infringements was revealed in October before allowing a six month public education phase, which is now coming to an end.

Starting in April, Customs officers will be able to issue individuals with an instant $400 fine, and businesses with an $800 fine.

Customs warns fines may be issued even when the offending is unintentional.

"Most individuals and businesses want to comply with Customs requirements and the law. However, there will always be those who either deliberately or unintentionally breach those requirements," Terry Brown of Customs NZ says.

"Infringement notices are an effective way of helping Customs officers protect New Zealand and offer an alternative to prosecution. Once the fine has been paid, all guilt or liability is discharged.

"They are not a means of generating revenue." 

Some of the offences that could see you being slapped with an instant fine include: 

  • Making a false declaration on a Passenger Arrival Card
  • Refusing to answer questions from a Customs officer 
  • Importing or exporting prohibited goods
  • Failing to stop using an electronic device (where sign prohibits) when asked to do so
  • Leaving arriving craft without authorisation
  • The full list of new offences can be viewed on the New Zealand Customs Service

The changes will be implemented from April 1 at all airports and ports, and apply to travellers, importers, exporters, excise manufacturers and brokers.