The customs clearance process can be daunting and complex for New Zealand businesses importing goods into New Zealand. 

Understanding the requirements and regulations of the customs clearance process is essential when there is no room for delays and no desire for penalties. 

This blog post will overview the New Zealand customs clearance process and offer tips and tricks to help you navigate the journey smoothly.


Overview of the New Zealand Customs Clearance Process

The customs clearance process in New Zealand consists of several stages; first, you will need to provide your customs broker with a suite of shipping documents such as a commercial invoice, packing list, air waybill [if the goods travelled by air] or a bill of lading [if the goods travelled by sea]. Your customs broker would then submit this information to the New Zealand Customs Service (NZCS) for a tax assessment. 

The NZCS will provide your customs broker with a release or instruct your broker that the paperwork or cargo needs further examination. 

Once the goods have been customs cleared, the goods can then be collected and delivered. 


Tips for a Smooth Customs Clearance Process

Understanding the Regulations and Requirements

One of the most important tips we can offer for your success when you are planning to import is to understand the rules and regulations of importing your goods to New Zealand. This includes ensuring that your goods need to be labelled, that they have been labelled if they are eligible to claim a Free Trade Agreement, and that your overseas supplier has provided you with a Free Tarde Certificate. In order to minimise surprises, liaise with your customs broker and keep them updated with new projects before you purchase the goods. 

Accurate and Correct Documentation

Accurate and correct documentation is a critical ingredient to the customs clearance process. Paperwork that is missing, incorrect or false can lead to delays which can then lead to storage costs. All importers need to ensure that the information that is given to their customs broker, who in turn provides that information to the New Zealand Customs Service (NZCS) is accurate and correct in order to avoid issues. 

Selecting the Right Freight Forwarder

A freight forwarder is an important player in the supply chain and logistics process; they are the people who will move the goods from your supplier’s port of departure through to your port of arrival. Choosing the right freight forwarder needs to be undertaken meticulously because if you choose the wrong freight forwarder, your cargo may be on the ‘slow boat’ to New Zealand or the freight forwarder may charge you undisclosed fees when the goods arrive in New Zealand. Platinum® is an ethical company; we provide concise and detailed costings before your goods depart from your supplier’s country. 

Communication and Coordination

The customs clearance process requires the cooperation of your overseas supplier, your customs broker and yourself; if the three parties cannot work together, the process is fraught with issues from the beginning. Communication and coordination are crucial for a pain-free, smooth customs clearance process. Ensuring the three parties are all on the same page is key to avoiding issues.

Benefits of Partnering with Platinum Freight®

Platinum Freight® offers its importing customers a tailored approach to the supply chain, logistics and customs clearance process. Our expert team have the knowledge and experience to navigate the cargo journey smoothly, ensuring you a successful import. Partnering with Platinum® can provide you with fewer issues, fewer delays and returning success.



Navigating the procurement, shipping and customs clearance process successfully requires preparation, accuracy and an understanding of the journey and the issues that arise at each stage. Following the tips and tricks in this blog post, your business should be able to ‘stay on track’ and enjoy a smooth transaction each time. 

Partnering with a reliable freight forwarder and customs broker like Platinum® can be your advantage compared to your competitor’s journey; Platinum® brings expertise and experience. The procurement, shipping and customs clearance process doesn’t have to be daunting; the right approach and team can be an effortless experience for your business.

Platinum® New Zealand always recommends that you provide your customs broker with all shipping papers well in advance so the cargo is not accruing storage at the airline terminal, sea freight depot or wharf.