These days, many people choose to make purchases on the internet ranging from personal items like clothing, books, and electronics to artwork and furniture. It’s common to look beyond your own backyard and explore overseas websites because you might find unexpected bargains or must-have items you didn’t know you needed.
However, the biggest problem online shoppers face today is shipping. While larger businesses sometimes ship globally, most small retailers will only ship either nationally or to one or two other countries. Sending goods out of New Zealand for example, can prove difficult for people wanting to purchase from smaller, boutique companies.
But that shouldn’t hold you back! Even when the product can’t be directly shipped to you by the seller, there are other ways to get your goods out of NZ.
Third-party freight forwarding
Third-party forwarding involves freight companies who are willing to collect the goods for you and forward them on. Usually, you just need to sign up for the service, and you will receive a warehouse address. The company will then receive your goods and arrange for delivery to you.
Before you go down this route, make sure you know what the costs are (as you will need to pay import tax on top of shipping and handling costs). Check for reviews online and make sure you do your research before making a decision. What’s the prospective timeframe for delivery? How reliable are they? How does the company deal with complaints?
Well-known international examples of third-party forwarding companies that are often used for personal items include Global Shopaholics and ShipItTo, which both ship from the US to countries around the world. Kiwis who want to buy from the US or the UK can also use NZ Post’s YouShop service.
If you’re in the opposite situation and based overseas but the item you want to buy is only sold in New Zealand, there are a few options available. Specialist New Zealand parcel forwarding companies include ParcelMate (which operates between New Zealand and China) and JetKrate (which ships items from New Zealand and the UK to a wide variety of countries). There are also logistics companies operating in New Zealand which handle large commercial shipments.
Virtual mailbox services
Virtual mailbox providers, such as Private Box, can also receive and forward parcels for you. A virtual mailbox is essentially a physical mailing address in a New Zealand city linked to an online account. The mailbox provider receives your mail, and you can have it scanned. Then you can read it online wherever you are in the world. You can also have your post physically sent to you.
Regarding packages, the first step is to check to see if you can receive parcels at your virtual address. If the answer is yes, just list that address as your address for delivery – and let your mailbox provider know you want your parcel to be forwarded on via NZ Post, or via a courier company.
There are usually some extra handling costs associated with sending parcels overseas, in addition to a shipping fee set by the carrier (which varies depending on the dimensions and weight of your parcel). There are also limits regarding size: if your parcel is too big, a freight forwarding service might be your only option. As with freight-forwarding, you will also have to pay import tax.
If you routinely receive correspondence in New Zealand and also expect to regularly receive and forward packages, then a virtual mailbox might be the way to go rather than arranging third party freighting every time.
A virtual mailbox can also be invaluable if freight-forwarding isn’t available in your country. For instance, Private Box ships to more than 230 destinations around the world. Our virtual mailboxes are located in five cities, and packages can be received at Auckland and Wellington addresses. For a small monthly fee, parcels can also be stored.
If you’re a business, you can manage things like a registered office address, New Zealand phone number, and trading name in addition to mail and parcel forwarding, via the use of a virtual office. A virtual office is like a mailbox, but it includes extra features to ensure your business runs smoothly. You can even register your work vehicle at your virtual office address.
Is there anything I can’t send out of New Zealand?
Before you can export your purchases, they will have to clear New Zealand Customs – and there are certain goods that can’t be shipped out. Usually foodstuffs like honey or dairy products cannot be sent outside the country without a special export license.
A range of items are also prohibited by the NZ Post on the grounds that they are “dangerous goods.” This includes weapons and flammable substances such as paint, perfume, turpentine, and nail polish. For a full list of prohibited goods, take a look at the NZ Post website.
Although you can’t use the national postal service for these products, certain courier services (such as TNT) may be willing to send flammable items like perfume– provided the goods are packaged in accordance with their requirements. Firearms exports, ammunition, and anything that falls under the umbrella of “controlled chemicals” needs to go through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade.
If you’re interested in using Private Box, or any other virtual mailbox or freight forwarding company, make sure you take a look at their website first and become familiar with what they can and cannot send.
In addition to dangerous goods, you also can’t send anything that’s protected in New Zealand. This can include items such as uncut greenstone (more than 5kg), documents that are historically significant, works of art that have cultural importance, or native plants. For more information, take a look at NZ Customs prohibited and restricted goods.
You can transport pets out of New Zealand. However, there are special rules around this, and the requirements vary depending on where you’re sending your pet to. For more information take a look at the Ministry for Primary Industries website. If you’re interested in exporting livestock (including sheep, cattle, birds, and bees) the process is more complicated.
Before making your purchase, you should also consult the Government import-export website for your country to check which goods are prohibited or restricted. You likely won’t be able to import anything that is banned in your country, and there might be special rules that you need to take into account before importing something restricted.
Can I arrange to send goods out of New Zealand privately?
If the goods you’re ordering are for personal use and you have a trusted friend or family member who is willing to receive your parcels and forward them on, then you could always go the private route.
Just list your contact as your address for delivery, and wait for them to send the goods to you. All the Customs forms they need should be available via NZ Post. This might be a good option if the thing you need to buy is a once-off, and it’s not subject to any special restrictions.
The advantage, however, of picking either a third party forwarding company or a virtual mailbox provider is that those businesses are specifically set up for this purpose, and you can usually expect a more time-efficient, professional, and reliable service.
If you are exporting goods for commercial purposes, then it’s highly recommended you entrust your goods to the professionals. For more information on the requirements for commercial export, take a look at this NZ Customs information page.
Don’t let distance stop you from making your dream purchase. Whether the products you’re interested in are personal or for commercial use, there are lots of resources online about sending goods out of New Zealand.
If you want more information about virtual mailboxes and virtual offices in New Zealand, take a look at our website, and check out our frequently asked questions.
Happy bargain hunting!