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Supplying restricted books and magazines

This page has information for suppliers of restricted books and magazines in New Zealand, including bookstores and libraries. It explains how and when to submit a book or magazine for classification, how to get official labels, and the requirements for supplying restricted books and magazines.

1950s couple reading a banned magazine

Useful links

Checklist for suppliers of restricted books and magazines

  • If a book or magazine has been classified as restricted by the Classification Office or the Film and Literature Board of Review since 2005, it may have a display condition that requires it to carry an official classification label. To find out of if a book or magazine has display conditions, search the title in the NZ Register of Classification Decisions, or contact the Information Unit
  • To obtain labels, contact the Film and Video Labelling Body
  • If a book or magazine was classified as restricted before 2005 it does not need an official label, however you must enforce the age restriction and follow any display conditions if they apply
  • If a book or magazine contains restricted material but has not been classified (an adult magazine for example) you must still display it appropriately and ensure that underage people do not have access to it
  • It is an offence to possess, supply or display objectionable or banned books and magazines

Offences and penalties under the Classification Act

What to do if you think a book or magazine may be objectionable (banned)

If you are concerned that a book or magazine may be objectionable under New Zealand law, but you aren't sure, then submit it to the Classification Office for a decision. This will avoid the risk of breaking the law by possessing or supplying it, and will reassure your customers that what you are supplying them is legal.

You can search the classification decision database for books and magazines to check whether they have been classified restricted or objectionable.

How to submit a book or magazine for classification

To submit a book or magazine for classification, you will need to send the following information to the Classification Office in Wellington:

You can include a cover letter with any other information you want us to know about your application.

Obtaining official classification labels for a series of magazines

An alternative to submitting an individual magazine for classification is to apply for a 'serial publication order'. The Classification Office can decide whether to grant a serial publication order by viewing a sample of three consecutive issues of a magazine. A serial publication order, when granted, allows you to apply an official classification label to every issue of a magazine for up to two years (providing the magazine series does not change dramatically in its content).

Stack of magazines

Restricting access to adult books and magazines in your store

Stores must display restricted publications in an appropriate manner. Practically speaking, this means that magazines with, for example, sexually explicit content on the cover, must be displayed in opaque, sealed covers unless they are in an 'adults only' area.

Distributors and sellers may apply their own labels to books and magazines to show that the publication must not be sold to people under a specified age, e.g. affixing an 'R18' label on the cover. This is a form of self-regulation encouraged under New Zealand's classification law. However, the label must not look like an official classification label.

Sellers can check the age of a customer at the point-of-sale by asking for proof-of-age identification. Remember, it is an offence to supply a restricted publication to someone under the age of restriction.

The Peaceful Pill Handbook with R18 classification label
The Peaceful Pill Handbook with R18 classification label