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Export restrictions

Before a protected New Zealand object including taonga tūturu, can be exported from New Zealand, either temporarily or permanently, permission must be granted by the Chief Executive of the Ministry for Culture and Heritage. To apply for permission, fill out the following application form.

Application to export a protect New Zealand object form [PDF]

Apply online

Under the Protected Objects Act, export means:

  • placed on board any craft for transportation to a point outside New Zealand; or
  • taken into a Customs controlled area or Customs place for removal from New Zealand; or
  • delivered as a postal article into the control of a postal service provider for removal from New Zealand.

The illegal export, or attempted illegal export, of a protected New Zealand object could result in the object being forfeit to the Crown, a fine of up to $100,000 ($200.000 for a body corporate) or up to 5 years imprisonment.

Submitting an export application

If you are planning to send any object which could fall into the 9 categories of protected objects overseas (i.e. over 50 years and with some association or significance to New Zealand) please contact us to us to seek advice in the first instance.  This applies whether the objects you wish to export are your private chattels, whether they are a gift, or whether you are selling or have sold them to an overseas buyer.

You will have to download the application form, sign it and post or fax it to the Ministry. The Ministry will not accept your form electronically or with an electronic signature. This is because of the declarations you are required to sign.

An application form can be used for one object or multiple objects traveling in one consignment.

The provenance or history of the object is very important in assessing your application. The more information provided in this question, the easier it will be for experts to consider your application.

In the case of applications to export art works or taonga tūturu, you need to include colour photographs with your application. You can email these to the Ministry at If the object is deemed to be a protected New Zealand object, you will be required to submit photographs of the object prior to the Chief Executive coming to his decision.

Please note that it can take between 2 to 10 weeks before the Chief Executive comes to a decision on the export of the object.

Assessing the Export Application

When the Ministry receives an export application, it first considers if the object is a protected New Zealand object, and if it is, if it can be exported from New Zealand. Under the Protected Objects Act, the Chief Executive must consult two or more experts on the export of a protected New Zealand object.

For an object to be a protected New Zealand object, the object must be:

  • of importance to New Zealand, or to a part of New Zealand, for aesthetic, archaeological, architectural, artistic, cultural, historical, literary, scientific, social, spiritual, technological, or traditional reasons; and
  • fall within 1 or more of the categories of protected objects set out in Schedule 4 of the Protected Objects Act 1975.

If the object is not a protected New Zealand object, the Ministry will issue you with a Certificate of Clearance which you can present to Customs. This shows Customs that you have submitted an application to the Ministry and that the object is not regulated by the Protected Objects Act.

If the object is a protected New Zealand object, the object will require an export certificate from the Ministry in order to be exported temporarily or permanently from New Zealand.

An application to export a protected New Zealand object is considered against criteria which can be found in section 7A of the Act. The Chief Executive will consult two or more experts with expertise relevant to the export application. The experts will provide the Chief Executive with written advice and a recommendation on export. They will consider:


Is the object substantially physically authentic;


made or naturally occurring in New Zealand?


made with New Zealand materials?


used by New Zealanders?


related to New Zealand?


Is the object associated with, or representative of, activities, events, ideas, movements, objects, persons, or places of importance to New Zealand?


Is the object important to New Zealand for its technical accomplishment or design, artistic excellence, or symbolic, commemorative, or research value?


Is the object part of a wider historical, scientific, or cultural collection or assemblage of importance to New Zealand?


Is the object of such significance to New Zealand or part of New Zealand that its export from New Zealand would substantially diminish New Zealand’s cultural heritage?


If the Chief Executive approves the export of a protected New Zealand object you will be issued a certificate which is to be presented to Customs prior to the object being exported from New Zealand. The Chief Executive can also impose conditions on the export ; these conditions will be listed on the export certificate.

If the Chief Executive declines the export of a protected New Zealand object, the applicant has the right to appeal their decision within 28 days to the Minister for Arts, Culture and Heritage.  If the Minister upholds the Chief Executive’s decision, or no appeal is made, the object cannot be permanently exported from New Zealand and it is automatically included on the Nationally Significant Objects Register.

Penalties for breaches of export provisions

Under the Protected Objects Act, every person who wilfully damages or destroys an object that has been refused export permission under this Act could be liable for a fine of up to $10,000 ($20,000 for a body corporate) for each object or a term of imprisonment not exceeding 2 years

Updated on 12th September 2016