Tax & Legal Considerations

Yachts travelling to New Zealand

New Zealand Entry Requirements

All yachts and small craft arriving in New Zealand must comply with border entry requirements imposed by the New Zealand Customs Service and the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry.

You should immediately familiarise yourself with the entry requirements and restrictions on bringing certain foodstuffs, artefacts and pets into New Zealand.

Consider your immigration status in New Zealand. Does a visa waiver apply, do you hold a visitor’s visa or have you taken steps towards obtaining a residency visa in New Zealand?

Duty Free Concessions

Certain concessions are available to exempt your vessel and other imports from customs duty and goods and services tax if you are intending to reside in New Zealand permanently, although there are size restrictions relating to boats. In order to qualify for concessionary entry, several conditions must be met, including that you have personally arrived in New Zealand, that you are authorised to reside in New Zealand permanently and that you have personally owned and used the boat for at least one year before the date of your departure for New Zealand.

Worldwide Basis of Taxation

New Zealand taxes its residents on their worldwide income and taxes non-residents on their income derived from New Zealand sources. Tax residence is triggered if you have a permanent place of abode in New Zealand or if you spend more than 183 days in the country in any 12 month period.

Be sure to understand when New Zealand’s tax laws are going to apply to you.

Non-Resident Crew Members

Certain concessions apply to amounts derived by visiting non-resident crew members of pleasure craft, to enable them to continue to earn their income from performing services tax-free, while a foreign owned pleasure craft is in New Zealand. For the purposes of this concession, the 183 day test does not apply but the crew member must not be resident in New Zealand for more than 365 days in any 2 year period.

If you are a non-resident crew member on a private yacht, ensure that you understand the potential tax impact of any long stays in New Zealand.

Double Tax Treaty Network

New Zealand enjoys a comprehensive network of double tax treaties with other countries. It is common for people moving between countries to be treated as tax resident in two or more places. A double tax treaty may operate to ensure that you are not taxed twice on your income.

Extra caution is required for yachties who have deliberately ceased to be tax resident anywhere in the world. There will be no double tax treaty protection in these cases. Ensure that you understand the impact of New Zealand’s tax laws on your worldwide income and investments.

Four-year New Migrant Tax Exemption

New migrants to New Zealand and New Zealanders returning after an absence of 10 years or more may be able to benefit from the transitional resident tax exemption, which applies to foreign sourced income derived by new migrants for a period of up to four years after you first become resident in New Zealand.

To maximise the effect of the transitional resident exemption, care should be taken to ensure that the start date of your residence in New Zealand is not unintentionally triggered earlier than expected. Special considerations apply if you choose to live on board a vessel rather than a land based dwelling. Sailing in and out of the country during the year may complicate matters.

New Zealand’s Tax Landscape

Income Tax and Capital Gains Tax

New Zealand tax residents are generally subject to income tax on their worldwide income. Income is taxed on a progressive scale with rates ranging from 10.5 percent on the first $14,000 to 33 percent on income over $70,000.

New Zealand does not have a generally applicable capital gains tax. However, certain investments are taxed on an attributed and unrealised basis, assuming a deemed return. Specialist advice should be sought if you are holding foreign investments or debt, including shares, pension scheme entitlements or foreign currency deposits or loans.

GST and Excise Taxes

Goods and Services Tax (GST) of 15 percent applies to most products and services in New Zealand.

Excise taxes apply to a range of products, such as tobacco and alcohol. These taxes are intended to limit consumption of certain goods.

GST and Excise Taxes are a charge on the ultimate consumer and are often included in the advertised price.

Stamp Duty and Estate Taxes

New Zealand does not impose stamp duty on transactions and does not have estate or death taxes.

If you’re coming to New Zealand indefinitely, consider whether you will be changing your place of domicile and whether or not you can limit the imposition of estate and death duties.

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The content contained on this website is prepared at a high level for general information purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. Please contact us to discuss how New Zealand’s laws will apply to your specific situation.

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