Moving to New Zealand permanently? – Import your household effects tax-free28 Jan 2021

Moving homes is a stressful process, moving countries even more so! Navigating immigration policy is already a difficult undertaking and on top of this, there’s the job of physically packing up your life and transporting your belongings to your new home.

Understanding the logistics of border crossing, as well as your duty and tax obligations when coming to New Zealand with all of your personal effects, can seem like yet another daunting task. Throw pandemic-related changes to visa categories into the equation and it can all be very overwhelming.

However, it is important to know that if you are a first time migrant to New Zealand, or are moving back to New Zealand after having been away for more than 21 months, and you have a right to residence here, you may be able to import your household effects without having to pay import duty or Goods and Services Tax (GST).

You can claim tax concessions on your household items (this does not include new or unused items, motor vehicles and other craft, and commercial items), if you hold one of the following:
• New Zealand passport
• Australian passport
• New Zealand residence or Returning Resident’s Visa
• Australian permanent residence or Resident Return Visa
• NZ Work Visa valid for 12 months or more
• NZ Skilled Migrant Category Visa
• NZ Entrepreneur Visa
• NZ Visitor Visa valid for 3 years or more.

It is important that the above passport/visa holder is the same person to whom the imported goods are consigned to.

The New Zealand Customs Service website sets out the steps you should follow when transporting your personal belongings into New Zealand. If you have enlisted the services of a shipping company, they can provide you with the necessary documentation. Depending on the company, you may be asked to provide proof of your visa status prior to shipping.

Critical Purpose Visitor Visa holders

Unfortunately, for those coming to New Zealand on a Critical Purpose Visitor Visa, some extra steps may be necessary, as this visa category does not give exemption to import duty on personal effects. The applicable tax is determined by the visa status of the person receiving the goods, at the time the goods arrive in New Zealand. This means that if you are a Critical Worker, it is important that you obtain a long term (at least 12 months) Work Visa, as per the list above, as soon as practicable after entering New Zealand. If this is achieved prior to the arrival of your goods in New Zealand, then your personal effects will be exempt and you will not be taxed. With the appropriate professional advice, forward planning and organisation this is very achievable. As timing is key, it is advisable to discuss the details with a Licensed Immigration Adviser before making arrangements around dates for shipment of your goods.

If you have any questions about this process, or would like help with your immigration journey, please do not hesitate to contact Pathways today to speak with a Licensed Immigration Adviser. Let’s Talk!

PC: Tourism New Zealand