Visitor's firearms licence and import permits

Changes to firearms law – prohibited firearms

New firearms laws amend the Arms Act:

  • Banning most semi-automatic firearms and some pump action shotguns; and also certain large capacity magazines. There are limited exemptions.
  • Placing controls around who may possess parts of prohibited firearms.

To find out how these changes may impact on you, go to Changes to firearms law - prohibited firearms.

Visitor's firearms licence

A visitor’s firearms licence will let you shoot for hunting or competition in New Zealand for up to a year.

  • You will need to show that you are a genuine shooter in your own country.
  • Visitor’s licence application fee - NZ$25.00 (including GST).

Apply online for a visitor’s firearms licence at least one month before your visit.

If you intend staying longer than 12 months you must apply for a New Zealand firearms licence [PDF, 111KB].

Bringing firearms into New Zealand

You need a permit to bring firearms into New Zealand, including for hunting or competition. You can apply online for an import permit at the same time as you apply for a visitor’s firearms licence.

Before you apply online:

  • check if your standard sporting firearms or target pistols (for use in national or international competitions) are on the approved firearms list
  • if they are not on the list, or are not standard sporting firearms (for example they are military-style semi-automatics 'assault rifles' for use in national or international competitions) send details of the make, model, action-type, calibre, magazine size and reason for importing, to New Zealand Police for assessment, using this Firearms team contact form.

If you arrive with firearms not on the approved firearms list, Police may keep them until you leave the country.

Apply online -  Firearms Visitors Application form.

When you arrive in New Zealand

When you arrive in New Zealand you must declare all firearms to New Zealand Customs officials.

They will refer you to New Zealand Police, who will:

  • check your passport
  • check your firearms licence issued by the country you live in
  • collect the $25.00 licence application fee
  • decide if you should receive a visitors firearms licence and import permit and issue them if necessary.

If you do not have a firearms licence from your home country

Some countries, such as the United States of America, do not issue firearms licences. In this case you will need to provide:

  • proof that you can legally own a firearm in your own country, such as a hunting permit
  • proof that you have been trained in firearms safety.

Leaving New Zealand with firearms

Before you leave home, you need to apply for a New Zealand export permit on the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade website.

However, if you are leaving New Zealand to take non-restricted firearms for competition shooting, or hunting and intend to return with those firearms you may not need an export permit. Remember you will still need to arrange to re-import the firearms into New Zealand before you leave on your trip.  

Similarly, tourists that have purchased a non-restricted firearm may be exempt. Remember to arrange to import any firearms back into your country of origin before you leave New Zealand.

If you are removing of a pistol, MSSA firearm or restricted weapon out of NZ you must give your police arms officer 4 days notice of your intention to export.
(S.38 of the Arms Act 1983)

Restricted offensive weapons other than firearms

There are offensive weapons you are not allowed to bring into New Zealand:

  • knuckle-dusters (including knives with knuckle dusters incorporated)
  • swordsticks
  • any weapon disguised to have the appearance of something else
  • any knife where the blade opens automatically by button, spring, or other device (e.g. flick knife)
  • any knife where the blade is released by force of gravity or force to the central point, and which is then locked in place by a button, spring, lever or other device
  • any knife (excluding folding pocket knife with blade less than 10cm) that is designed for easy concealment on the body, or has a double-edged blade designed for stabbing/throwing, or any knife known as ‘urban skinner, terminator, black eagle, black dagger, throwing knife’
  • bayonets.

If you want to bring any of these weapons into New Zealand, before you leave your home country apply to the New Zealand Police Arms Control (Response and Operations).

Import permits for parts of firearms

The section 16 of the Arms Act 1983 requires that:

  • A person must not, otherwise than pursuant to a permit issued to the person by a member of the Police, bring or cause to be brought or sent into New Zealand—
    • (a) a firearm, pistol, military style semi-automatic firearm, starting pistol, restricted airgun, or restricted weapon; or
    • (b) any part of a firearm, pistol, military style semi-automatic firearm, starting pistol, or restricted weapon.

In terms of ‘parts’. ‘Part’ is defined in section 2 of the Arms Act 1983 as:

  • part
    • (a) in relation to a pistol, restricted weapon, or military style semi-automatic firearm, includes any thing, such as a butt, stock, magazine, silencer, or sight, which, while not essential for the discharge by a pistol, restricted weapon, or military style semi-automatic firearm of any shot, bullet, missile, or other projectile, is designed or intended to be an integral part of a pistol, restricted weapon, or military style semi-automatic firearm; and
    • (b) in relation to any other firearm, means the action for that firearm

Section 18 of the Arms Act 1983 provides for the issuance of permits to import for the purposes of section 16 of the Arms Act 1983. There is no provision for Police to issue a permit to import for components of firearms, other than those that fall within the definition of ‘part’ above.

To summarise, the only component of a firearm (that is not a pistol, restricted weapon or MSSA) that requires a permit to import is the action of that firearm.

Police do not have a practice of issuing a letter stating that a component does not require a permit to import and suggest that if further information is required by overseas authorities, reference can be made to this information on the New Zealand Police website.