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Introduction

Important information for commercial importers, their agents and household movers.

DOC expects high levels of compliance from commercial importers, customs agents and import co-ordinators who import products containing CITES species into New Zealand.

It is your responsibility to know what your items contain and to obtain the required CITES permits before shipping. Permits cannot be obtained retrospectively once the items have entered New Zealand.

Note that during 2021 DOC is phasing out commercial pre-clearance checks of product inventories and CITES permits.


Importing commercial consignments of traditional medicines

Information for commercial traditional medicine importers and their agents.

If the consignment hasn’t left the exporting country yet

  • Importers or agents should determine if ingredients used in medicines contain CITES species.

  • If CITES ingredients are included in the consignment, the importer or agent will need to obtain the required CITES permit(s) before the goods are shipped to New Zealand.

Refer to:

If the goods are already on their way to New Zealand or have already arrived

  1. Agents must lodge the import with the NZ Customs Service and Ministry for Primary Industries. 

  2. Ensure Customs Import Entry Rules regarding prohibited goods (Code ‘CIT’ for CITES) are correctly completed and upload any relevant CITES documents.

  3. If the Biosecurity Authority Clearance Certificate (BACC) instructs you to obtain CITES clearance, contact DOC by emailing cites@doc.govt.nz. The email must include the following:
    • Biosecurity Authority Clearance Certificate
    • waybill/bill of lading
    • packing list
    • ingredients list

  4. Ingredients lists of plant and animal products need to be provided in full scientific name format eg American ginseng is called Panax quinquefolius. If scientific names are not provided the clearance of the consignment will be delayed.

  5. DOC will assess the consignment and provide instructions back to the Ministry for Primary Industries.

Importing other commercial goods

Information for commercial importers and their agents (eg luxury fashion items, cosmetics, furniture).

  • Importers or agents should determine if the consignment contains CITES species. The import of CITES species will require CITES documentation presented at the time of import.

  • Lodge the import with NZ Customs Service and Ministry for Primary Industries.

  • Ensure Customs (Import) Entry Rules regarding prohibited goods (Code ‘CIT’ for CITES) are correctly completed and upload any relevant CITES documents.

Refer to:


International household moves to New Zealand

Information for household moving companies. New Zealand has strict requirements for importing household items that contain CITES species.

If the household goods are still awaiting export from overseas

Common CITES items found in household moves include:

  • elephant ivory (eg piano keys)
  • rosewood furniture
  • hunting trophies (eg animal mounts, floor rugs)
  • wildlife souvenirs (eg corals, some shells, animal skulls)
  • handbags or shoes made from crocodile or snake.

If the household lot contains CITES species you will need to obtain CITES permits before sending the items to New Zealand. Refer to CITES permit requirements.

Refer to Permit conditions and New Zealand border entry requirements

If the household lot is already on its way to New Zealand or has already arrived

  1. Lodge the import with NZ Customs Service and Ministry for Primary Industries.

  2. Ensure Customs (Import) Entry Rules regarding prohibited goods (Code ‘CIT’ for CITES) are correctly completed and upload any relevant CITES documents.

  3. If you have obtained a CITES permit for the import of a household item it will need to be presented to NZ border officials at the time of import. Refer to Permit conditions and New Zealand border entry requirements.

  4. If CITES items are imported without the required CITES permits, contact DOC immediately. Provide the waybill and unaccompanied declaration for the consignment.

  5. Goods may be detained at a Transitional Facility or Customs Controlled Area while DOC assess the items and any documentation.

Permit conditions and New Zealand border entry requirements

If you have obtained a CITES permit/certificate to import CITES items (whether commercial or household), you or your agent must ensure that:

  1. The details on the permit match what is being imported into New Zealand.
    This includes checking that the quantity being shipped is no more than the quantity shown on the permit.
  1. The permit will not be expired when the items arrive in New Zealand.
    CITES permits are normally valid for six months and can only be used for one transaction.
  1. Any special conditions listed on the permit are met.
    Some permits have additional pages or related documents that must also be presented.
  1. The permits have been endorsed/validated by border officials in the country of export as the goods depart for New Zealand.
    This is done in the lower section on the permit. In most cases, CITES permits are not valid unless they have been endorsed.
  1. The original permit(s) will be presented to New Zealand border officials before or at the time of importation of the goods to New Zealand.
    Copies of permits are not acceptable. The originals (of all pages) must be presented. Permits should ideally accompany items to New Zealand. Permits not presented at, or before, the time of importation may see items seized.

What happens if your imports of CITES goods do not meet requirements

DOC takes non-compliance seriously. Imported goods that do not have the required CITES permits, or where the permits are not valid or not presented on time, will be seized and may be forfeited. Importers may also be liable to pay for the costs of their disposal.

If a commercial consignment or household lot has been shipped and you think it may not meet CITES requirements, contact DOC immediately.

DOC may also take enforcement action under the Trade in Endangered Species Act 1989 such as imposing infringement fines or prosecution through the courts.

Importers should also ensure that customs and biosecurity requirements have been met. Contact the New Zealand Customs Service and the Ministry for Primary Industries. 

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