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Tobacco seizures prompts Customs reminder on limits

Tobacco seizures prompts Customs reminder on limits

Growth in abandoned and seized tobacco at international airports and sent from overseas has prompted Customs to remind travellers and friends or family to be aware of the limits, and help spread the word.

“There has been a noticeable increase in the amount of tobacco being abandoned by travellers and this may be due to the fact that travellers are unaware of the limits”, says Anne Marie Taggart, Group Manager Border Operations.

“The current duty free allowance is 50 cigarettes, or 50 grams of cigarettes, cigars or tobacco with duty applied to any cigarettes, cigars or tobacco over this limit. Not declaring or hiding excess tobacco is a criminal offence - this tobacco will be seized and there could be serious consequences.”

There has also been growth in the amount of tobacco abandoned or seized that has been sent from overseas and in particular, from the Asian region, through international mail and by freight.

Ms Taggart says with no gift or duty free allowance, it is the recipient, or whoever the tobacco is addressed to, that is considered to be the “importer” and is therefore liable for the taxes.

In 2017, more than 3 million cigarettes/cigars and around half a tonne of loose tobacco was intercepted by Customs, with more than 2.5 tonnes of tobacco abandoned as people did not want to pay the extra charges.

Customs will shortly be running a campaign to raise awareness around the limits for travellers and the duty that will have to be paid for excess tobacco.

“Everyone can play a part in this by making sure their friends and family are aware of the allowances,” says Ms Taggart.

“We want the public to know that additional costs will be incurred before they travel, or send from overseas, to avoid having their tobacco abandoned or seized. Any tobacco that is intercepted or abandoned will be destroyed.”

For more information visit www.customs.govt.nz/declare

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