More transparent but stringent Customs regime from October 1

Photo for Newsroom by Lynn Grieveson

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Wellington, September 27, 2018
New Customs legislation to support border compliance and the country’s economy will come into force on October 1, 2018.
The Customs and Excise Act 2018 will replace the current but outdated and much-amended 1996 Act and uses modern language that is easier to understand and interpret.

Cooperative effort
Customs spokesperson Terry Brown said that the new Act was a collaborative effort.
“We have worked closely with the import/export sector, as well as the broader business community, in the past five years to shape the legislation and make it easier for traders to meet border requirements. There are new services and initiatives arising from the Act, including the ability to apply to store business records outside New Zealand or in the cloud, a new valuation rulings service, and the ability to seek reviews of Customs’ assessments directly from Customs. Many of the new changes will result in time and cost savings,” he said.
Mr Brown said that the travelling public is unlikely to notice much difference at the border, with existing provisions reconfirmed or clarified.”
Customs processes more than 13 million passengers a year, 14.4 million trade transactions and collects $13 billion in revenue for the Crown.
More information on the Customs and Excise Act 2018 is available on the Customs website or by contacting our call centre 0800 428 786.
About the new Act
The intent of the Customs and Excise Act 2018 is still largely the same as the 1996 Act – to allow Customs to carry out its work of protecting New Zealand’s border and supporting the country’s economy.
However, it provides more flexibility for Customs to keep pace with the constantly changing border, trade, travel and business environments.
The new Act introduces new services and requirements
Valuation rulings
Customs can now make rulings on the appropriate method to determine the value of an importer’s goods. This means more certainty for importers where they are unsure of how to value their goods.
Importers, or their agents/brokers, need to apply for a ruling before goods are imported into New Zealand. Costs for this service apply.
Customs has up to 150 days to make a valuation ruling. A ruling is valid for up to three years.
Provisional values
Importers who meet the criteria can declare provisional values for their goods at the time of importation, when final values are not known.
This ensures a transparent, clear, and flexible process to estimate values, which takes the realities of trade into account. A final value can be confirmed within 12 months after the end of the importer’s financial year.
Compensatory interest and late payment penalties
This is a new process for charging compensatory (use of money) interest and late payment penalties when duty hasn’t been paid in full on time.
It is fairer and more transparent than the previous additional duties regime, as the new process is clearer about when remission can be granted, and charges are consistent with those imposed by Inland Revenue.
Storing business records
Anyone required to keep Customs-related records can now apply to store their business records outside New Zealand, including in the cloud.
This change provides flexibility in how to store business records, is more cost effective in many cases and reflects modern business practice (in line with Inland Revenue’s requirements).
Comptroller’s discretion
The Comptroller of Customs (Chief Executive) now has legal guidance on how much discretion they have to make and correct assessments, and collect the duty identified.
The guidance is only applied in legal matters on revenue, collections and assessment. It ensures a fairer and more equitable system for duty payers.
Administrative review
Importers, exporters, excise manufacturers, brokers or agents can now request an administrative review of a Customs decision they are not happy with. Customs staff not involved in the original decision will complete the review.
The new process, which industry asked for, is designed to reduce barriers and delays, and help keep costs down. It’s quicker and less costly than appealing to the Customs Appeal Authority.
Those seeking a review must make an application, or seek an extension to make an application, within 20 working days of a decision being made.
Single Window
Joint Border Management System (JBMS) users play a vital role in helping gain accurate information about goods coming in and out of New Zealand.
Users now have to meet ongoing competency requirements, such as always acting in a professional manner and being a fit and proper person.
Those users who repeatedly fail to demonstrate competency can have their registration suspended or revoked.
Administrative penalties
Administrative penalties now apply to all exporters, importers, licensees and agents who make errors or omissions on import, export or excise entries.
Excisable goods
There are changes in how Customs treats excisable goods (alcohol and fuel) to increase clarity and transparency for calculations and licence applications.
All Customs-controlled area licensees must be a ‘fit and proper person’- this includes managers and directors. Alcohol-related Customs-controlled area (CCA) licensees need to file an entry for every period, even if it is a nil return.
The definition of tobacco manufacture has been tightened and now includes curing, and the personal use allowance has reduced to 5 kgs.
Infringement Notice Scheme
From April 1, 2019, Customs officers can issue on-the-spot infringement notices to anyone not complying with the official requirements.
International arriving and departing passengers (air and sea), importers, exporters, excise manufacturers, Customs-controlled areas (CCAs) and brokers are subject to fines of $400 (for an individual) or $800 (for a body corporate) depending on the offence.
This new infringement notice scheme replaces the previous petty offences regime.

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