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Customs and Excise Amendment Bill passed

Customs and Excise Amendment Bill passed

Customs Minister Rick Barker says he expects the new Customs Import Transaction Fee of $16 (plus GST) to be collected from December 1 this year.

The Customs and Excise Amendment Bill (no 4) which includes provision for the fee, was passed by Parliament on Thursday October 3 at the conclusion of the third reading debate.

Initially the previous government had intended to introduce the fee from July 1 this year, but the legislation was held over when Parliament rose for the election.

The fee of $16 (plus GST) will apply to each commercial import entry and import declaration for goods with a duty and/or GST liability greater than $50. Private import declarations under the value of $1000 will not be charged.

Mr Barker says those who benefit from Customs’ state of the art clearance process will be footing part of the bill.

“The past 10 years has seen a revolution in the service importers receive at our borders. Paperwork that once took days is now handled in an average of 12 minutes. Ninety-seven percent of imports are handled online and the majority of goods can be cleared before they arrive at New Zealand’s borders.

“Over the same decade there has been a 127 percent increase in import volumes. There is also increased pressure on border surveillance arising from global developments. These developments have stretched Customs capability and resources to the limit.

“The Government has decided that because importers benefit directly from fast and efficient goods clearance, they should contribute to the cost,” says Mr Barker.

The clearance cost includes the full range of Customs processes around the import of goods including: monitoring importers compliance with tariff, rules of origin and other relevant national and international regulations, analysing information to identify potential risk shipments physical inspection of potential risk shipments any subsequent investigations audits of importers’ duty and excise compliance.
The Customs and Excise Amendment Bill (no 4) also includes a number of other measures aimed at enhancing the work of the New Zealand Customs Service.

Rick Barker says he is pleased that the bill closes a loophole relating to objectionable material imported over the internet. The importation of such material will now be treated as an offence by Customs in the same way as objectionable material imported in hard copy.

He says the bill also clarifies and extends the powers of Customs officers relating to searches.

”This will strengthen Customs ability to stop drugs and other contraband getting in to the New Zealand community,” Mr Barker says.


Background information: All about importing

New Zealand’s 30,000 importers bring goods worth around $32 billion across our borders each year. All of these imports are checked and cleared by the New Zealand Customs Service. The process is simple. Importers or their brokers lodge an import entry with Customs, either in paper or electronic form, which identifies what is being imported, by whom, its origin and value. Using these details, Customs confirms that the goods are safe and legal and that the importer holds any permits required by other agencies, such as the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry or the Ministry of Health. Customs then calculates duty owing on the consignment, charges the importer and releases the goods at the wharf or airport. Customs’ computer-based import system can even send clearances to the importer’s freight carrier before the goods reach the border.

Who can import?

Anyone can import goods provided they comply with the import entry process. Private imports must be checked in the same way as commercial. Customs has dedicated client services staff whose focus is guiding newcomers through the process. Help is also available via a free call centre (Tel: 0800 428 786), and staff at the public counter in any Customs office are also available for immediate personal assistance. All imports are subject to GST and some may also attract other duties.

What imports are stopped?

As part of Customs assurance process, a wide range of goods are physically examined and many items are stopped at the border because the Government has determined that they are inappropriate for New Zealand society. Reasons can be social, economic, international or safety-based and examples include counterfeit money, asbestos, weaponry, pornography and pirated goods. In some cases, the goods are deemed potentially unsafe or inappropriate and may be cleared provided certain requirements are met (such as authentication from the country of origin). Other completely prohibited goods are confiscated for destruction and the importer may face criminal charges.

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