Customs Information

Customs Information

INFORMATION FOR EXEMPTION FROM CUSTOMS DUTY FOR NON COOK ISLANDERS AND RETURNING COOK ISLANDERS

Information on concessions/exemptions from Customs Duty and Customs VAT for Cook Islanders and Non-Cook Islanders returning to live or work in the Cook Islands. 

Fact Sheet -Ref 85.01 & 85.02 -updated Jan 2017

Form 60 Unaccompanied Baggage Declaration

Form 60A Unaccompanied Baggage Declaration Supplementry Page

Form 63 Declaration under the Customs Act 2012 - Personal Effects

Form 64 - Declaration under the Customs Act 2012 - Motor Vehicles

Form 015 Declaration under the Customs Revenue and Border Protection Act 2012


Firearms and Weapons

The importation of firearms is strictly controlled in the Cook Islands. All firearms must be declared to the Customs officer on arrival into the Cook Islands. Firearms onboard will be detained and placed in safe keeping by the Cook Islands Police who will hold them until the craft's departure.

The importation of weapons such as flick knives, swordsticks, knuckle-dusters, and any weapon designed to give the appearance of another article, is prohibited.


Visiting Crafts

This section of our website is to help with Customs requirements for craft visiting Cook Islands.

Craft Arrival

 

  • See Arriving in Cook Islands for information for travellers about Customs formalities, import restrictions and prohibitions, and allowances.
  • See departing from Cook Islands for information for travellers about Customs requirements, and export restrictions and prohibitions.

Reporting to a Port of Entry

Once you have entered Cook Islands territorial waters (12 nautical miles), the International Q-flag must be clearly displayed. All craft arriving in Cook Islands from overseas must first report at a Customs port of entry. Once your craft has arrived in Cook Islands, you will be met by Customs and Ministry of Agriculture and Foreign Affairs. With the exception of an emergency situation, all persons and goods must remain on board until the craft has been entered.

These documents must be presented on arrival:

  1. an Inward Report (Small Craft); and
  2. a completed Cook Islands Passenger Arrival Card for each person on board; and
  3. a valid passport for each person on board; and
  4. Border Cash Report, if required; and
  5. completed Import Entry (Temporary) Yachts and Small Vessels form; and
  6. last port clearance;

Importers

This section of our website is to help you with Customs requirements if you are importing goods for:

  • commercial application, such as goods for use in your business, for re-sale or for distribution
  • Private use, for example, gifts or mail order goods.
    • Private Importers
    • Commercial Importers
    • Prohibited Imports

For information about importing motor vehicles, whether or not you have travelled overseas to purchase them, see Motor Vehicles Private Importers. Help with Customs requirements if you are importing goods for private use, for example, gifts or mail order goods. See Prohibited Imports for information about import prohibitions and restrictions at the border which the Cook Islands Customs Department enforces.

Read more ...

Exporters

The Cook Islands Customs Department plays an integral role in exporting. We facilitate legitimate trade and help secure access for Cook Islands exports to overseas markets.This section of the website explains Customs requirements if you are exporting legitimate goods, and provides useful information on a range of topics including prohibited exports, permits, drawbacks, the Secure Exports Scheme, and Frequently Asked Questions.

Remember, Customs is here to help. If you want further advice, information or clarification on content in this section, please contact Cook Islands Customs Department (00-682-293-65) or email: revman@mfem.gov.ck

Importing into other countries

The Cook Islands Customs Department is unable to provide information about Customs requirements when goods are imported into other countries. You should contact the appropriate Foreign Diplomatic Representatives to New Zealand to for information about import regulations of the overseas country.

Value Added Tax (VAT)

Unlike other Customs administrations, Cook Islands does not provide for refunds of VAT on purchases by travellers.

Permits

Goods destined for export may be subject to the requirement for a third party agency approval to export, for example, an Antiquities Permit. For information on the types of goods that require an approval to export and the information that must be shown on the Customs export entry, see Permits to Export - Alerts.

Prohibited Exports

The Cook Islands Customs Department enforces a wide range of export prohibitions and restrictions at the border.
If you have any doubt about what you may or may not export or take with you, please contact Cook Islands Customs Department or email: revman@mfem.gov.ck

See Customs Fact Sheetfor a list of export prohibitions and restrictions.


Export of goods

Export entries

Export entries and other clearances are a legal declaration to Customs under the Customs and Excise Act 1996, providing details of shipments to be exported.

Customs suggests you engage your freight forwarder or a Customs broker to lodge export clearances on your behalf. This will help if you are unfamiliar with compiling entries, the related rules, determining tariff classification, customs value, or whether permit requirements exist for goods you wish to export.

Penalties exist for erroneous export entries under the Customs and Excise Act 1996, and it is important that you are aware of these. For more information on offences relating to Entries, see Section 203.

Export Warehouses

Licensing as a Customs Controlled Area

In order to hold imported or excisable goods without payment of duty on the goods, pending their export, you are required to be licensed as a Customs controlled area. This includes duty free shops and ship providers who wish to carry duty free goods to load on craft.
Customs controlled areas are subject to audit, and Customs officers may access the premises at any time.

Licensing Process

Before making any application to be licensed, it is recommended that you contact your local Customs office for assistance.

Applications can be made by the owner, occupier or person operating in the area to be licensed. You need to complete an Application for a Customs Controlled Area Licence, which sets out details of the information required. Please note that additional information may also be requested.

All applications must be accompanied by a plan in the form of a diagrammatic layout of the area. Architects or professional plans can be submitted, if available, or plans used for local body or resource management applications should provide the necessary detail. A "layperson's description" of the area should also to be included.


Boats and Aircraft

Information for travellers about importing boats and aircraft.  For tourists visiting Cook Islands in their own boats, see Visiting Craft.

When Customs Charges are Payable

Boats and aircraft which do not qualify for concessionary entry  are subject to duty (where applicable) and VAT.

Duty Rates

If applicable, the duty rate is calculated on the transaction value of the vessel (the price actually paid for it):

  • Boats are free of duty
  • Aircraft are free of duty

Value Added Tax (VAT)

Boats and aircraft are subject to VAT which is currently 12.5 percent calculated inclusive of the value and any international freight and/or insurance charges.  If you require further information, please contact Customs office.

When No Customs Charges Apply

The following conditions are strictly applied and the Cook Islands Customs Department has no discretionary licence to adapt them to suit particular circumstances. If these conditions cannot be met, the boat or aircraft will be considered a non-concessionary import and Customs charges will be payable. More detail below on:

Documentation

All documentation in respect of the purchase, maintenance and operation of the boat or aircraft should be retained, as it will assist with Customs formalities at time of clearance.


Period of Ownership

Vehicles will not qualify for concessionary entry if the owner surrenders them for shipping to Cook Islands before the anniversary of the day on which original delivery was taken. For example, if you purchase and take delivery of a vehicle on 10 June, you must not hand it over to be shipped before 10 June of the following year, and you must not leave for Cook Islands before that date. Lifestyle and work requirements may dictate that the owner is not in a position to use the vehicle on a daily basis. This will not necessarily disqualify a vehicle from concessionary entry providing you are able to satisfy the Cook Islands Customs Service that the vehicle in question was available for use at all times if required. The key element is that the periods of actual use, if not continuous, should span a full 12 months. Lease and Hire Purchase Vehicles Personal ownership includes vehicles which have been: leased by the importer, or Purchased by the importer through a hire purchase agreement. This concession only applies if the importer has: had possession of the vehicle for at least one year prior to the date they departed from the country of exportation to Cook Islands, or the vehicle was surrendered for shipping to Cook Islands, whichever is earlier Complied with the terms of the lease or hire purchase in full prior to property in the vehicle passing to the importer, and prior to importation into Cook Islands. Company Fleet Vehicles Concessionary entry of a vehicle which forms part of a company fleet will be considered if the importer has had full personal use of the vehicle it can be demonstrated that this arrangement formed part of a salary package The importer meets all the other conditions for concessionary entry, plus transfer of ownership prior to the date they departed for Cook Islands, or the vehicle was surrendered for shipping to Cook Islands whichever is earlier. Access to this concession is not automatic and will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis. If you wish to import a vehicle falling within this category, contact the Cook Islands Customs Depatment at the intended port of arrival before putting shipping arrangements in place.


When Customs Charges Apply

Eligibility

Concessionary entry for motor vehicles is available to persons who have arrived in Cook Islands and on the date the motor vehicle is imported, hold a document authorizing residence in Cook Islands after living overseas for 21 months or more.

Conditions

In order to qualify for concessionary entry, the following conditions must be met in full:

  • You have arrived in Cook Islands and on the date the motor vehicle is imported you hold a document authorizing permanent residence in Cook Islands; and
  • For the whole of the period of 21 months preceding your arrival, you have resided outside or have been domiciled outside Cook Islands. Brief holidays or exploratory visits do not exclude a person from qualifying for this concession; and
  • You have personally owned and used the vehicle for at least one year before the date of your departure for Cook Islands, or the date on which the vehicle is surrendered for shipping, whichever is earlier; and.
  • The vehicle is being imported for your own personal use and not for sale, gift or disposal in any other way; and
  • You give a concession reference 80 undertaking.

These conditions are strictly applied and the Cook Islands Customs Service has no discretionary license to adapt them to suit particular circumstances. If the above criteria cannot be met, the vehicle will be considered a non-concessionary import and Customs charges are payable Document authorizing residence in Cook Islands means any of the following:

  • A current New Zealand Passport
  • A current Cook Islands Residence permit
  • A current Cook Islands work permit
  • A Birth Certificate

Concession reference 80 undertaking means: A written undertaking, in the form required by a Customs officer, that if the relevant goods are sold or otherwise disposed of within 2 years from the date of importation, the person signing the undertaking will immediately pay to Customs.

  • The Customs charges that would have applied if duty were levied on the goods, at the time of their importation under Part I of the Tariff; or
  • Any lesser sum that may be required.

Duty Rates on Vehicles

Type of vehicle Duty rate Duty rate
Motor cycle Free to 150%
Motor car Free to 120%<
Ambulance Free
Motor home/camper van Free to 120%
Motor vehicle for the transport of 10 or more persons Free to 120%

If applicable, the duty rate is calculated on the Customs value and the additional freight costs of the vehicle.

Value Added Tax (VAT)

Import VAT is chargeable on all goods (including motor vehicles) imported into Cook Islands, even though the transaction has been conducted offshore and the purchase price may already incorporate a local value-added or sales tax component.

The current rate of VAT is 12.5 percent. VAT is calculated on the Customs value of the vehicle, plus duty (if any), plus international freight and insurance.

Import Entry Transaction Fee

In addition to the payment of duty and VAT, an Import Entry Transaction Fee of $25.00 (VAT inclusive) may apply. The fee is payable at the same time that duty and VAT is collected by Customs.


Depreciation on Vehicles

The following depreciation deductions can be made from the purchase cost of vehicles owned and used overseas by the importer prior to shipping to Cook Islands (provided a minimum period of 90 days has elapsed from the time of purchase to the arrival of the vehicle in New Zealand).

Period of ownership and use overseas Depreciation deduction (%)
Less than 90 days

0

3 months or more, but less than 4 months

13

4 months or more, but less than 6 months

20

6 months or more, but less than 9 months

27.5

9 months or more, but less than 1 year

35

1 year or more, but less than 2 years

50

2 years or more, but less than 3 years

60

3 years or more, but less than 4 years

70

4 years or more

75

In normal circumstances, the maximum depreciation is 75 percent, but a special deduction (tropical depreciation) may be allowed in some instances where it can be demonstrated that high heat and humidity have accelerated the deterioration of a vehicle.

For the purposes of applying deprecation only, length of ownership and use overseas by an importer is measured from the time of delivery (the date possession is taken following purchase) until the date the vehicle arrives in New Zealand. Note that this is not the same measure used to determine if the vehicle qualifies for concessionary entry.

Depreciation rates on Other Imports


Motor Vehicles

Information for travellers about importing motor vehicles

Clearance Procedures

Shipping companies and removal companies will usually provide arrival papers around the time your vehicle is imported. Some freight forwarders/Customs brokers or removal companies will also assist you with the Customs formalities. If you are completing the Customs formalities yourself, it is recommended that you make an appointment with your local Customs office.

To obtain delivery of the vehicle you need to:

  • Arrange an agricultural clearance for the vehicle through the Ministry of Agriculture
  • Arrange for a Customs clearance.

To obtain delivery, Customs control requires:

  • the agriculture clearance
  • your passport
  • invoice receipt showing total price paid and date of purchase
  • registration papers or Certificate of Permanent Export (UK), Certificate of Title (USA), or De-registration Certificate (Japan)
  • invoice showing export costs (Japan)
  • invoice showing freight costs and insurance to Cook Islands
  • Bill of Lading
  • odometer reading at time of sale for export to Cook Islands
  • odometer reading at time of importation into Cook Islands
  • Additional information if you are also clearing household effects.

After Customs clearance, the vehicle should be presented to an agent for inspection and a compliance audit for certification for registration. Personal belongings in vehicles


Household

Clearance Procedures

Removal companies, airlines and shipping companies will usually provide arrival papers around the time your effects are imported. Some freight forwarders/Customs brokers or removal companies will also assist you with Customs formalities.

To obtain clearance of the shipment you need to:

  • a completed Unaccompanied Personal Baggage Declaration
  • the agriculture clearance
  • permits from other agencies (where applicable)
  • your passport
  • an inventory of what is in the shipment
  • the shipping arrival papers (such as the Bill of Lading, Airway bill, or Arrival Advice)
  • arrange an agricultural clearance for the shipment through the Ministry of Agriculture
  • obtain any permits that may be needed, for example, a Police Permit to Import if you have firearms in the shipment
  • Arrange for a Customs clearance.

complete an Unaccompanied Personal Baggage Declaration form, which is the declaration for Agriculture and Customs

 


Departure

On Departure from the Cook Islands, there are a few things that need to followed to ensure a smooth flow through the departure area.

VAT on Purchases:

Unlike other Customs administrations, there is no provision for travellers to obtain a refund of Value Added Tax (VAT) on their purchases when they leave the country. In order to purchase goods without payment of VAT, travellers are required to purchase from a duty free shop or arrange for the retailer/supplier to export the goods.

Goods for Export and Return:

Travellers are not required to declare goods which are:

  • physically in their possession before commencing an overseas trip, and
  • Not purchased duty free in the Cook Islands at the time of departure.

If you are concerned that the possession of exported goods might impact on your duty-free entitlements, carry some form of documentation which proves previous ownership to avoid any potential misunderstanding when re-entering Cook Islands.
Customs will also issue a Certificate of Export for identifiable goods (such as photographic equipment with serial numbers).
To obtain a Certificate of Export, present the goods to a Customs office before departure.

Border Cash Report

Any person carrying NZ$10,000 or more (or foreign equivalent)


Arrivals

Declarations


Prior to arrival in the Cook Islands, you will receive a Passenger Arrival Card. You must tick "Yes" in the Customs section of your arrival card if you are bringing any of the following into Cook Islands:

  • goods that may be prohibited or restricted, such as weapons, objectionable (indecent) articles, wildlife products, or illicit drugs goods in excess of the $250 allowance and the tobacco and alcoholic beverages allowance
  • goods for commercial, business, or trade purposes
  • goods carried on behalf of another person
  • NZ$10,000 or more, or the equivalent in foreign currency.

Please have any purchase receipts available.

You do not have to declare your clothing, footwear, jewellery, or toiletries. These are regarded as personal effects if they are intended solely for your own use.

Red/Green Ways Out

After you collect your baggage and clear Customs Passport Control, either:

  • Walk through the "Nothing to Declare Way Out" (green exit) if you have not declared any Customs or agricultural goods on your arrival card, or
  • Go to the "Goods to Declare Way Out" (red exit) if you have declared any Customs or agricultural goods on your arrival card, or you are unsure which exit to use.

Baggage Search

The baggage of any traveller may be searched by:

  • Customs officers
  • Agriculture/Quarantine officers

 


Tobacco and Alcohol

Allowance:

2 Litres of Alcohol beverage; or 4.5 Litres of beer And 200 cigarettes,or 50 cigars, or 250grams of tobacco

Excess Charges: Levy PayableVAT PayableTotal
cigarettes

$56.00

$9.00

$65.00

tobacco

$87.00

$14.00

$101.00

wine

$3.00

$2.00

$5.00

beer

$6.00

$4.00

$10.00

spirits

$16.00

$7.00

$23.00

Full Customs charges are payable on quantities imported in excess of the above allowance, or that are in containers greater than the maximum stipulated bottle size. No revenue collection will be made if the total amount owing on goods imported in excess of the concessions is less than $2.00. This revenue waiver does not apply to alcohol or tobacco products.


Customs Charges

The Cook Islands Act 1961 prohibits the sale of alcoholic beverages and tobacco products to persons under the age of 18. This restriction also applies to Cook Islands duty free outlets.

Payment of Customs Charges

  • Customs Charges - Baggage
  • Customs Charges - Alcohol and Tobacco Products

Calculation of Customs Charges Customs duty on goods accompanied by a passenger, where applicable is normally levied on the transaction value of the goods, i.e., the price actually paid for them. VAT of 12.5 percent is then calculated on the duty inclusive value. In cases where there is no identifiable transaction cost, such as for items gifted to the traveller, Customs will endeavour to have the goods valued independently.

Payment of Customs Charges

  • Payments will only be accepted in New Zealand currency.
  • Passengers may pay Customs charges by cash only:

Commercial Goods

If you are carrying commercial goods, goods for resale, or goods for use in your business, they will be subject to duty (where applicable) and Value Added Tax (VAT). You should declare these goods on your arrival card and go to the "Goods to Declare Way Out" (red exit). If the value of the goods is less than NZ$1,000, the goods can be cleared at the airport if prior arrangements have been made for a Customs broker/freight forwarder to clear the goods.

Customs officers will prepare the Customs paperwork on behalf of the importer. If the value of the goods is more than NZ$200.00 and you have not arranged pre-clearance, the goods are held under Customs control until an Import Entry has been processed and cleared. You will not be able to take the goods with you from the airport. Import Restrictions Screening out items harmful to Cook Islands interests is an important border function. Importation of some goods is prohibited. Others may be admitted only after they have been subjected to treatment, or if they are accompanied by the appropriate documentation.

Restrictions are as follows:

  • Fire Arms and other weapons
  • Money
  • Medicines