Customs increase GST/Duty limit for imported goods

Following on from earlier posts about the exempt threshold under which duty and GST does not have to be paid on imported goods (known as the “de minimis” amount) there has been an important development.

From 1 October, when the GST rate increases to 15%, a new threshold will be in place. It will be $60 (instead of the current $50).

This means, it will be possible to import goods free of GST and duty provided the total import duty and GST payable on the goods is less than $60. This means the exemption will continue generally to apply to imports valued at $399 or less.

This is great news and ensures the GST rate increase will not impact the exempt threshold.

Note however, if GST is payable on the goods you import, because for example the total GST / Duty payable is more than $60 then the applicable rate of GST on imports cleared from 1 October will be 15%.


2 replies
  1. Karin Lundgren
    Karin Lundgren says:

    Hi Iain, thanks for being (as far as I can tell) the only person on the entire interwebs spelling out exactly what the deal is with imports and GST in plain English!

    Can I please just check that I’ve understood this correctly: If I import small amounts – usually less than a value of NZ$100 at a time, including shipping – of materials and supplies for my jewellery-making business (I’ve checked Customs’ list of approvals and my goods are on it), I do not need to pay any GST? And I can enter these items as zero-rated in my accounts? And I can do this as long as the total value of any one shipment, including shipping charges, does not exceed $399, regardless of how many shipments I receive overall?

    Sorry to cadge free advice like this but I’ve looked everywhere and neither IRD or Customs, or anyone else, are clear on this. Thank you so much!

    • iainblakeley
      iainblakeley says:

      Hi Karin, thanks for the feedback.
      Generally speaking you’re correct but you need to be careful. The exemption isn’t a blanket $400. It actually is based on the total duty and/or GST payable in relation to the goods. If the total duty/GST payable would be $60 or less then the exemption applies. That means if GST is the only charge then the value you can import is $399 or less. If other duties are payable (and there is a 5% customs tariff on jewellery for example) in addition to GST then the value you can import is closer to $300. I recommend getting specific advice and if in doubt talk to someone at Customs when you are importing goods. They watch this area carefully.


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