The New Zealand Government controls the trade of certain goods and technology that could be used for military purposes.

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 1996, unless a permit has been obtained from the Secretary of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

The MFAT Export Controls Office is responsible for managing the permit system for controlled goods and chemicals. Controlled items are listed on the New Zealand Strategic Goods List.

Why do we have export controls?

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

Penalties for non-compliance

Individuals and/or companies who unlawfully attempt to export or import controlled goods without a permit or licence may be fined or imprisoned under the Customs and Excise Act 1996. For an individual, penalties can be a fine of up to $10,000 or imprisonment for up to 6 months, and for a company, a fine of up to $50,000. Additionally, failure to comply with a condition of a consent may attract a fine of up to $10,000. More detail on penalties can be found in s.209 of the Act (external link).

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A consent to export or import controlled goods may be withdrawn by the Secretary of Foreign Affairs and Trade if: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

Find out more about export and import controls:

Which goods are controlled?
How to export military and dual-use goods
How to import or export controlled chemicals
How are applications assessed?