Modernised border experience on the way for travellers

A safer and smarter border experience is a step closer after the Customs and Excise (Arrival Information) Amendment Bill passed its first reading in Parliament.

The Bill amends the Customs and Excise Act 2018 to make the obligations for arrival information clearer.

Customs Minister Meka Whaitiri said it will improve border management and ensure a smoother experience for travellers touching down in Aotearoa, by making improvements to support the implementation of a digital arrival card.

“These changes will help to speed up the arrivals process for travellers, ensuring they can move through the airport quickly, while also ensuring we can manage border-related risks,” Meka Whaitiri said.

“As passenger numbers return to normal levels, a digital arrival card will also help the tourism sector by ensuring visitors can move seamlessly through the arrivals process and get on with enjoying the best Aotearoa has to offer. It’s important that our border processes are as efficient as possible while also helping to make our border safer and smarter.

“This Bill supports moving to a digital arrival card, which will modernise the border process by allowing for traveller information to be provided online and prior to their arrival. This will help frontline officers to focus on potential risks and enable border agencies to assess arrival information more efficiently beforehand.”

The Customs and Excise (Arrival Information) Amendment Bill also creates two new offences if people do not comply with Custom’s requirements.

The first relates to where a person fails to provide required information or does not provide it within the regulated timeframe. The second offence is where a person provides incorrect or false information which is not merely trivial or inconsequential.

“Most people want to comply with the Custom’s requirements and complete their arrival information and the new offences are only expected to be for a handful of people who don’t.

“I intend to make both infringement offences that may result in a fine in order to encourage travellers to follow the rules,” Meka Whaitiri said.

The Bill also clarifies how Customs can use data where it collects it on behalf of another agency to help verify information.

The Bill has been referred to the Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade Select Committee to report back in April 2023.

Meka Whaitiri said this timeframe would allow border operations to be ready for when the provisions of the new law come into force in June next year.