NZ Customs Service: Strategic Statement on Air and Sea Passenger Processing

Murray McCully Customs


The New Zealand Customs Service is the primary border management agency of
the New Zealand government.

As such it is Customs responsibility to manage the implementation of
Government strategies and the national collective interest as these affect or
are affected by the movement of travellers into or out of the country.

Government Strategic Result Areas

Two long-term Government strategies are relevant to passenger processing:

Enterprise and innovation, which requires the development of a successful
enterprise economy by achieving and maintaining an open trade environment.
Specifically this entails two subordinate strategies.

The first of these is the promotion of open flows of goods, services and
ideas (in which is encompassed the flow of people) between New Zealand and other
countries. The second is the development of policies for the sustainable growth
of the tourism sector based upon, among other things, the development and
maintenance of an appropriate infrastructure (including border management

Community security, which requires the development of policies that better
protect individuals and their communities with an emphasis on partnerships
between agencies such as the Customs Service and those communities.

Explicitly, this requires the development of efficient and effective
community protection systems, which includes systems for maintaining border

The Customs Strategy

The Customs strategy for passenger processing reflects these Government
strategic objectives, and is directed towards ensuring that we maintain a safe
and secure border with minimum intervention to legitimate trade and travel.

Specifically this entails ensuring that border integrity is preserved in
respect of immigration and emigration, the import of drugs, firearms and other
weapons, pornography, various unsafe products, and substances dangerous to the
ozone layer, breaches of intellectual property rights, and in furtherance of our
obligations in respect of the import and export of material relating to
endangered species and our national cultural heritage.

From an economic perspective, it is less expensive to the taxpayer to prevent
unwanted goods or persons from entering New Zealand than it is to contain their
harmful effect once they have entered the community. Better facilitation of
goods and people across the border therefore must come from improved enforcement
techniques rather than less enforcement.

Enforcement activity undertaken by Customs is both responsive to intelligence
(national and international) and risk assessment, and pro-active in profiling
individual passengers and situations at the point of entry. This is directed to
ensuring that enforcement objectives can be fully achieved while meeting the
requirements of facilitation of passenger movements.

Implicit in this is the recognition that success requires a co-operative
effort between Customs and the general community, and between it and other
public agencies and private sector businesses and organisations involved in the
management of the border and in the international travel industry. In
particular, Customs aims to achieve a full partnership relationship with both
participating airlines and airport companies and as appropriate, relevant
shipping and port companies in pursuit of our shared goals of facilitation and
enforcement within a commercial environment.

The New Zealand Customs Service is committed to continuous upgrading and
development of its border management techniques and to refining risk management
profiles to achieve the required balance between the strategic objectives of
enterprise and innovation, and community security.

It aims to meet world best practice by the year 2000.

The Current Environment

In the year ended May 1996, slightly under five million travellers arrived at
or departed from New Zealand ports. By far the vast majority were air passengers
(4.95 million).

The number of air passengers is projected to rise to 6.73 million by the year
2000, while the number of sea travellers is likely to remain relatively static.

The past three years have seen the evolution of domestic airports, with an
international service, throughout the country and these are expected to increase
in number over the next four years; this has brought about a consequent pressure
on Customs resources, and demands on management. It has also increased the risk
to the border. The number of sea ports to which overseas shipping report is
expected to remain the same.

The Task

Within this context, the Customs Service must ensure that it is positioned to
facilitate passenger movement without the lessening of border integrity, while
avoiding delays, and minimising any adverse economic, social, and environmental

This will require that Customs systems have sufficient flexibility to meet
changes as they occur; sufficient transparency to demonstrate that they are
defensible, and a level of fairness and consistency to ensure that they have the
confidence of the community.

The Solutions

Technologically by the encouragement of overseas administrations and the
travel industry in the provision of advance passenger information, the wider use
of machine readable passports, the use of biometrics and smart cards, and the
enhancement of our information technology systems, including a single Customs
database for border passenger management.

Administratively by reductions in the levels of routine documentation checks,
streamlining passenger categories, more effective management of risk,
particularly in respect of New Zealand and Australian passport holders, and
improving the effectiveness of secondary processing procedures. In respect of
trans Tasman travel, in recognition of the commonality of information needs, New
Zealand Customs will work with the Australian Customs Service on the development
of a protocol and systems that will mean a passenger need supply on a once only
basis information that will satisfy the requirements of the border agencies in
each country.

The Customs Service will work co-operatively with other agencies, and in
particular the New Zealand Immigration Service, to ensure the delivery of
transparent cost structures in order to benefit client organisations. The cross
agency co-operation should also ensure a co-ordinated approach to border
management through such means as electronic issue of visas and data collection,
off shore processing and preclearance arrangements, the optimum deployment of
human resources and facilities of all of the organisations involved at the
border in respect of both incoming and outgoing passengers, and passenger and
other client education and feedback.

Funding and Pricing

In accordance with a Cabinet directive, the Customs Service is reviewing the
funding and pricing of aircraft and passenger inspection and clearance.

A funding regime will be put in place that will address the airlines concerns
over inequities with the current charging outside gazetted hours, the different
charging applying to international flights from domestic airports, and the
airlines concern that cost reductions in Customs are not reflected in reductions
in charges.

A revised charging regime will need to provide airlines and airport companies
with some certainty about the environment they are operating in and also provide
discipline on the providers of the service. Customs, as the provider of the
service, has an interest in obtaining the cooperation of airlines in providing
advance passenger information for Blue Lane and similar processing. Furthermore
any funding regime designed will cater for increases in passenger volumes in the

Customs Modernisation (CUSMOD)

This programme is designed to enable the successful implementation of the New
Zealand Customs Strategic Plan.

The CUSMOD Passenger Processing project, which is part of the programme, is
scheduled to be completed in July 1997 and will take Customs a significant way
along the path towards implementing the strategies outlined in this paper.

In addition this project will provide a platform for further developments in
passenger processing, post 1997.


To meet its goal of world best practice by the year 2000, the New Zealand
Customs Service will place significant emphasis on continuous re-assessment of
its strategic direction and rigorous evaluation of its service delivery. Given
the unique aspects of Customs work, it is intended that Customs moves
progressively to incorporate peer review, for example feedback from various
airlines and selected airport companies, into its evaluation processes. In this
way identified world best practitioners will assess the effectiveness of NZ
Customs programmes and their delivery.

Hon Murray McCully
Minister of Customs
15 August 1996