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New Zealand Duty And GST Common Questions

Learn the answers to the most common questions about New Zealand's duty and GST charges.

When it comes to importing and exporting practically anything to New Zealand, there are countless questions that business owners and regular people have. Based on my experience though, some are much more common than others. So, let’s take a look at the very common ones and answer them.

Isn’t Item X Supposed To Be Tax-Free?

You can import or just buy online items from websites overseas that cost NZ$1,000 and less. GST in this case is collected by overseas suppliers. It is not the customs office that collects duty, IETF (import entry transaction fee), GST, or even BSEL (biosecurity system entry level). The only situation in which this is incorrect is when items bought are a part of a larger consignment that has a higher value than NZ$1,000.

Can I Split Purchases To Avoid GST And Duty?

Import value is calculated based on how much a company or a person imports at one time. This is not limited to one transaction. When you buy several items but they arrive in NZ at the exact same time, value can easily be combined. In this case, you need to pay GST and more when the value goes over the cutoff value of NZ$1,000.

When Are Customs Charges Not Paid?

New Zealand Customs do not collect IETF, duty, BSEL, or GST unless the specific item is a part of the larger consignment valued highlighted. However, this is something that does not apply to alcohol and tobacco products. For such products, GST and duty are always collected.

How Can I Calculate The Duty I Owe?

When you have to pay duty, you calculate it as a percentage of the full value of items shipped. When you bought the items in another currency, you have to check out the official Customs rates of exchanges. Do not calculate with the use of other rates.

GST is simply calculated at the fixed amount of 15% of the full value of the shipped goods. If applicable, some extra duty is added. At the same time, you have to consider insurance and courier charges.

When in doubt, contact an experienced customs broker to help you calculate the duty owed.

The reason why the exchange rate used by Customs is different is that it is based on Westpac data and is calculated fortnightly, which practically means in advance. The new rates will be collected and then published a full 11 days before the date when they become effective. Such a practice is important because it helps importers have assurance in terms of how much GST and duty will have to be paid. It also aids as an extra protection against possible rate fluctuations.

What If Sellers Declare Lower Goods Values?

This is something that should never happen. Whenever NZ Customs figure out that goods value was incorrectly declared, as when trying to avoid paying GST or duty, goods can be seized. In some extreme cases, you might even end up facing prosecution. The New Zealand Customs has the full authority to amend goods value declaration whenever it thinks what was declared is incorrect.

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