Do you buy goods from overseas?
Maybe you use online stores to shop for consumer items like books, jewellery, clothes, and toys? If the stores you shop at are overseas based you are most likely importing the goods.
From July, the New Zealand Customs Service will begin applying an import transaction fee (ITF) of $24.75 ($22 plus GST) to a range of personal imports that attract GST and import duty.
Generally the ITF will apply to goods valued over $400 but at times packages valued at less than $400 will attract the fee.
The fee will apply to all import items such as jewellery, clothing and electrical appliances.
A MAF Biosecurity system entry levy (BSEL) of $12.50 (including GST) will also be charged whenever an ITF is applied.
Customs says these import transaction fees are applied to cover the time and costs associated with processing imports and are used to fund border risk management activities.
2012 update: Customs has created an online duty estimator so you can estimate how much duty and/or GST you may need to pay.
The New Zealand Customs Service have provided us with the following information in response to the questions and comments made by our members (see below). For more information see www.customs.govt.nz.
The New Zealand Customs Service notes the comments on the Consumer website relating to proposed changes which will mean that in future private importers of import shipments (commonly through the International Mail system) will be required to pay an Import Transaction Fee – in cases where revenue of over $50 is payable.
We are aware that this area can be confusing for people importing – especially those who do not import frequently.
The simple rule is that the issues of import duty, GST and any import transaction fees apply to an import consignment. A consignment is a package or a set of packages imported on the same day. If the consignment is of a value which will attract duty and GST exceeding $50, then it will be required to also pay an Import Transaction fee of $24.75 (including GST), and a Biosecurity Systems Entry Levy of $12.50 (including GST). The examples that we provided are designed to show how this system works.
In the first example, of a shipment of toys valued at $380 with freight cost of $19, the total value for estimating GST is $399 as no duty is payable (these items are duty free into New Zealand). However, even though no duty is payable, all imports into New Zealand are liable for GST. The GST that would be payable is $49.88. Under the Customs and Excise Act, if the duty and GST to be paid is less than $50, it is not collected.
So in this case, no GST is to be paid. In such cases no Import Transaction Fee or Biosecurity System Entry levy is payable either.
In the examples for clothes and jewellery, the duty and GST combined does exceed $50. In these cases the importer – or addressee, in the case of mail items – is liable to pay the duty and GST before the goods are released. Under the new rules they will also need to pay the Import Transaction Fee and the Biosecurity System Entry Levy.
These import transaction fees have up until now been paid on all commercial imports. The change means that they will be applied in future to personal imports, but only where duty/GST exceeding $50 is payable.
Tony Irvine correctly notes that if you haven’t paid duty and GST previously, in future you won’t pay these, and you won’t pay the import transaction fee either.
Faye King wonders if, when she buys a book valued at $30, will she need to pay the Import Transaction Fee? The answer is no. However, if she buys 15 books, totaling a value plus freight such that the liable duty and GST will exceed $50, and which arrive in a single shipment, then she will need to pay the duty/GST and the Import Transaction Fee, and the Biosecurity Systems Entry Levy.
This charge will apply to CD/DVD purchases – if the consignment is liable to pay duty and GST, collectively, of more than $50.
The Customs website has information on the specific items that are liable for duty as well as GST.
One of your correspondents has asked in what circumstances goods valued at below $400 will be liable for duty/GST and the Import Transaction Fee. We have indicated in the examples in the table above some goods which, valued at below $400, will still attract duty/GST and transaction fees. (For example, clothing valued at $250, depending on the freight cost, might be liable for duty/GST and the Import Transaction Fee and the Biosecurity Systems Entry Levy.)
Got a question or comment on this topic? Share your views and experiences with other Consumer members...
Read what our members have to say close
To save money on essentials and make buying decisions easy, you can't go past Consumer. We're proud to have over 65,000 members all enjoying our independent information online or in Consumer magazine.
Here's what some of them say...
"Just wanted to let you know that I find your site excellent! Easy to find my way around, everything at my fingertips - just a click away.
I only took out a 3 month membership as I wasn't sure but it is actually really easy to use and if I want it on paper I can print the
reports. Thanks again".
Denise Watkinson - Waitakere
"My mother (74) got a renewal letter from her insurance company for her car insurance, wanting $570. After reading
your article on car insurance, I contacted one of the companies you recommended, who quoted her $318 for the same
level of cover. I just wanted to stay thank you very much for your article, as it has saved my mother a substantial amount of money".
Adrian Lane - Kapiti Coast
"I've been a member to the magazine since 1997 and enjoy reading it a lot. I've found lots of helpful information on different issues...
Thank you for being so helpful".
Peter Kovalenko - Porirua
"I have been a member of the Consumer NZ for 20 or more years and have enjoyed much reliable advice.
I turn to their tests before making significant purchases".
Lyndal Print – Auckland
Join Consumer now and make your decisions easy on a huge range of products and services
- Over 500 reports, plus interactive tools and calculators
- Independent advice from NZ's trusted source of information
- Join over 65,000 members who help us get all NZers a fairer deal