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New instant fines for minor offences

From 1 April 2019, individuals and businesses will be subject to a new range of instant fines if they are found breaching Customs requirements.

Customs officers will be able to issue individuals with an instant $400 fine, and businesses with an $800 fine, for 70 minor infringement offences.

Fines may be issued even if the offending was unintentional.

Terry Brown, Group Manager Border Operations at Customs, says “Most individuals and businesses want to comply with Customs requirements and the law. However there will always be those who either deliberately or unintentionally breach those requirements.

“Infringement notices are an effective way of helping Customs officers protect New Zealand, and offer an alternative to prosecution. Once the fine has been paid, all guilt or liability is discharged.

“They are not a means of generating revenue.”

The infringement notices were introduced in October last year as part of the implementation of the Customs and Excise Act 2018, with a six month education phase to inform the public and businesses about the changes before enforcement began.

Customs could issue fines for petty offences under the previous 1996 Customs Act, but this was limited in how and where it was applied.

Offences that could result in an instant fine include making a false declaration on a Passenger Arrival Card, refusing to answer questions from a Customs officer or for importing or exporting prohibited goods.

The infringement notices will affect all international arriving and departing passengers at airports and ports, importers, exporters, excise manufacturers, brokers and Customs-controlled areas.

A full list of all infringement offences are on the Customs website, www.customs.govt.nz




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