New Zealand is one of the best destinations for expats – you can enjoy luscious green scenery, an excellent healthcare system, and some of the world’s most progressive politics.

But before you enjoy life among the Kiwis, you’ll need to consider how you’ll actually get your belongings over there – which is no easy task. In fact, New Zealand is renowned for its rigorous border controls.

So before you pack your bags, check out our helpful guide below, which will take you through the process of shipping your belongings to New Zealand.

If you need an extra helping hand, our shipping suppliers are also happy to assist you in the Customs process. To receive free shipping quotes along with support from our suppliers, just pop a few details into this short form – our team of experts will get in touch with quotes for you to compare.

New Zealand lake

Once you’ve sorted out your shipping, you can also enjoy these lakeside views in Wanaka, New Zealand

Cost of shipping household goods to New Zealand

The cost of shipping to New Zealand will depend on where you’re moving from, and which area of New Zealand you’re shipping to.

To give you a rough idea of how much it’ll cost to get your stuff over there, we’ve calculated the average international shipping rates for some of our most sought-after journeys from major cities to popular destinations in New Zealand.

The rates are sourced from iContainers, and are based on the port-to-port transportation of a 20ft container of used furniture worth $40,000 – the typical value of the contents of a three-bedroom house (according to Admiral Insurance). The durations are sourced from

Bear in mind these are estimates only. If you’d like a more accurate idea of how much shipping to New Zealand will cost you, just pop your details into this form, and our suppliers will get back to you with their best prices.

This information was last updated in February 2022.

London to Auckland£2,200 (GBP)41 days 15 hours
London to Wellington£2,244 (GBP)42 days
Los Angeles to Auckland£5,209 (GBP)18 days and 7 hours
Los Angeles to Wellington£4,639 (GBP)19 days

Please note: these container shipping costs exclude typical add-ons such as door-to-door delivery, professional packing/unpacking, and basic insurance cover. Our shipping suppliers normally incorporate these services into their prices, so expect some discrepancy between the rates given here and the quotes you receive. These estimates should be used as an indication only.

When it comes to shipping container sizes, you have two options: a 20ft container or a 40ft container.

For most people, a 20 ft container will have enough room to hold everything, but some larger families might need a 40ft container. It all depends on the amount of stuff you have.

Difference between LCL and FCL shipping containers

You’ll also need to consider whether to go for a Less than Container Load (LCL) or Full Container Load (FCL).

The main difference between these two containers is that, with an FCL, customers rent the whole container, while an LCL includes cargo from multiple customers.

To help you with your decision, we’ve noted which container is better for cost efficiency, security, and speed:

  • Cost – LCLs are usually cheaper because the supplier will charge by weight, whereas FCL suppliers charge you a flat rate for the container, regardless of how many items are inside
  • Security – An FCL shipment tends to be more secure because it is not in contact with cargo from other shippers, which means it isn’t at risk of damage or contamination from other items
  • Speed – FCL containers tend to be a few days quicker than LCL containers. This mainly comes down to the fact that LCL shipments combine multiple customers’ goods, which means the ship will have to make more stops along the way to unload items

What happens once your belongings reach New Zealand?

You can ship your belongings to various ports in New Zealand. The top five ports are:

  • Port of Tauranga (the largest port in the country)
  • Port of Auckland
  • Port of Wellington
  • Napier Port
  • Lyttelton Port

Once your belongings arrive, they’ll have to be declared and inspected – this is a particularly important part of Customs. New Zealand classes a lot of belongings as ‘risk items’, with some requiring permits and others being strictly forbidden.

New Zealand Customs guidelines

New Zealand takes careful measures to prevent harmful pests and diseases from crossing its borders, and goes to great lengths to protect its biodiversity from non-native species. This means that Customs regulations are pretty strict here.

All items entering New Zealand need to be cleared by the country’s Customs and quarantine services.

Strictly prohibited items include:

  • Weapons and firearms
  • Objectionable material on items like videotapes, films, records, CD-ROMs, or other publications
  • Items made from animal by-products including coral, snakeskin, whalebone, shell, or fur
  • Medicines using musk, horn, or bone

Items that require additional documents or quarantine include:

  • Herbs and spices
  • Taxidermied animals
  • Bamboo, cane, rattan, basketry, and mats
  • Unprocessed wool and animal hair
  • Dried flowers or bulbs
  • Saddles and riding equipment
  • Camping equipment
  • Vacuum cleaners

If you’re planning on bringing any of these items along with you, make sure they’re declared on your passenger arrival card, otherwise you may be fined or prosecuted.

If you’re unsure of whether some of your belongings are classed as ‘risk items’, make sure to double check on New Zealand’s Customs website.

Once you’ve figured out which items you can and can’t take with you, you’ll need to figure out what documents you’ll need to prepare. Most travellers will require:

  • A copy of their passport and visa
  • A combined Customs and quarantine declaration form
  • A numbered inventory/packing list
  • A Personal Effects Supplementary Declaration for any items that are a biosecurity risk
  • Valid treatment certificates for goods that have been fumigated, heat treated, or cleaned

How has COVID-19 affected New Zealand Customs?

On 29 May 2020, the New Zealand government introduced a few changes to its Customs and Excise Regulations.

The government has allowed duty payers – whose ability to pay on time has been significantly affected by COVID-19 – to receive a refund on any interest or penalties that come from late duty payments.

According to the government’s Customs website, to be eligible for a refund, the duty payer must:

  • Apply with a due date of unpaid Customs duty between 25 March 2020 and 25 March 2022
  • Make a duty payment on time, after being significantly affected by the COVID-19 outbreak
  • Have made contact with Customs as soon as possible
  • Have agreed to an instalment plan with Customs or paid the duty in full (but the payment was late)

How to clear New Zealand Customs

To clear Customs in New Zealand, you’ll need to make sure you have the right documentation at all steps of the process.

To start with, you’ll need to declare your household goods to the Ministry of Primary Industries (MPI).

You’ll also need to fill out a passenger arrival card – a mandatory form that includes a declaration on all items that are considered ‘risk items’ by the MPI.

Some key documents that you’ll need in order to clear Customs in New Zealand include:

Next steps

There’s a lot to remember when shipping your belongings to New Zealand. But if you don’t feel too confident filling out the necessary forms or making sure you have everything you need before shipping your belongings over, don’t worry – our shipping suppliers are happy to assist you in the Customs process.

To receive free shipping quotes, as well as support from our suppliers, pop a few details into this short form, and our professional experts will get back to you with quotes for you to compare.