Trading weapons and controlled chemicals

New Zealand has an export controls regime legislated under the Customs and Excise Act 2018. This requires a permit to import controlled chemicals and export strategic goods both military and dual use.

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Consultation closed - Enhancing the Export Controls regime

Consultation on proposed enhancements to Export Controls regime operations was held from the 11th of August until the 14th September 2022, and has now closed. Submissions will inform the final changes proposed to the Export Controls regime. A summary of submissions will be published on MFAT’s website in due course.

See also: Export Controls Consultation page

Export Controls Review

The review of New Zealand’s export controls regime for military and dual-use goods and technology has now been released.

See also the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade news item on the release of the review.

Why do we have export controls?

The export and import of all controlled chemicals and the export of strategic goods (firearms, military goods and technologies, and goods and technologies that can be used in the production, development or delivery of nuclear, chemical or biological weapons) is prohibited under the Customs and Excise Act 2018(external link), unless a permit has been obtained from the Secretary of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

New Zealand's system of export controls on strategic goods (our export control regime), is designed to ensure that such trades are consistent with our wider foreign, strategic and security policy. The system is an essential element of our non-proliferation, arms control and disarmament policies, and of our commitment to being a responsible exporter.

In particular, New Zealand's export control system is a significant thread in our commitment to restricting the ability of countries or terrorist groups to develop weapons of mass destruction, and to prevent the transfer of conventional weapons for undesirable purposes.

New Zealand is a member of the four international export control regimes and the Arms Trade Treaty. These form the basis of our own export control regime:

Applications to export controlled goods are dealt with on a case by case basis in accordance with the Criteria for the Assessment of Export Applications

Brokering controls in New Zealand

Brokering involves negotiating or arranging a transaction that takes place fully outside New Zealand, that involves the supply of Strategic Goods in exchange for some form of benefit, whether financial or otherwise.

Brokering doesn’t include imports to, and exports from, New Zealand because these are already covered by existing export and import controls.

Under the Brokering (Weapons and Related Items) Controls Act 2018(external link), any brokering activity that is carried out of weapons and dual-use items for military use requires those wishing to engage in brokering to register with the Secretary of Foreign Affairs and Trade, and to obtain a permit for each brokering activity.

Read more about brokering weapons and dual-use goods for military use

United Nations Sanctions

Before considering applying for a permit to export strategic goods you should first ensure that the country  to which you are intending to export is not subject to UN sanctions.

New Zealanders must fully comply with the regulations that implement UN sanctions. A breach of the sanctions regulations is a criminal offence. Given the wide scope of the regulations, and the penalties for non-compliance, it is essential that anyone contemplating doing business with sanctioned countries obtains independent legal advice first.

Information about how New Zealand implements UN sanctions and the listing of countries subject to sanctions can be found here

Penalties for non-compliance

Individuals and/or companies who unlawfully attempt to export or import controlled goods without a permit or licence or who knowingly fail to comply with a term or condition of a permit or licence may be fined or imprisoned under the Customs and Excise Act 2018(external link).

Individual penalties

For an individual, penalties can be a fine of up to $20,000 or an amount equal to three times the value of the goods or imprisonment for up to 6 months.

Company penalties

For a company, penalties can be a fine up to $100,000 or an amount equal to three times the value of the goods.
More detail on penalties can be found in section 388 (external link) and section 389 (external link) of the Customs and Excise Act 2018. 

Withdrawal of a consent

A consent to export or import controlled goods may be withdrawn by the Secretary of Foreign Affairs and Trade if:

  • a condition of the consent is breached, or 
  • the Secretary considers that the situation has changed sufficiently to warrant the withdrawal of a consent, or
  • the Secretary receives new relevant information.

The consent holder will be notified in writing if the consent is withdrawn.

International Import Certificates

Export Controls will now validate International Import Certificates (IICs) for New Zealand importers importing strategic goods, where an IIC is specifically required by the country of export.

Please note these are only for goods on the New Zealand Strategic Goods List.


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