13 Feb 2015

Tougher measures over false arrival cards

10:24 am on 13 February 2015

Measures to turn away overseas visitors who make serious false declarations on their arrival cards have been strengthened.

Immigration New Zealand general manager Peter Devoy said staff would be working with the Ministry for Primary Industries to stop people who deliberately conceal or fail to declare biosecurity risk goods.

Mr Devoy told Morning Report said people who deliberately attempted to deceive border officials would be liable to be turned back.

"That would be in serious cases, as opposed to the tired person who inadvertently makes a mistake, and there might be a piece of fruit in their bag or something similar."

He said the move clarifies the existing provisions and removes any doubt over the penalty for false representation. It was not the result of a law change, but closed gaps in the immigration instructions.

Mr Devoy said the measures took effect on 2 February and primarily affect biosecurity and customs matters.

Ministry for Primary Industries says the changes show border agencies take false declarations on arrival cards very seriously because of the potential impacts on the New Zealand economy.

During the year to 30 June 2014, a total of 1,026 people were refused entry to the country.