Enforcement, offences & penalties
The Films, Videos, and Publications Classification Act 1993 contains offence provisions outlining the penalties for breaching the law. The Department of Internal Affairs, Police and Customs are responsible for enforcement of the Classification Act.
Role of the Classification Office
The Classification Office examines and classifies publications, handles complaints and inquiries, and provides information, resources and advice about the classification system in order to help people comply with the law. We do not have an enforcement role.
Find out what we classify, how we make decisions and what labels mean, submit a request, or search for a classification.
Resources & research
We have a range of resources and research available for members of the public, enforcement officials and industry members.
Enforcement of New Zealand's classification law is the primary responsibility of Inspectors of Publications in the Department of Internal Affairs. The Police are also Inspectors of Publications and both they and Customs Officers perform important roles in classification system enforcement.
The Films, Videos, and Publications Classification Act 1993 and its regulations outline classification and labelling requirements, the availability of restricted material, and the prohibition of objectionable content. The offence provisions outline the penalties if the law is broken.
Prosecutions are carried out by Police, Customs and the Department of Internal Affairs.
Department of Internal Affairs
The Department of Internal Affairs investigates complaints, enforces compliance with labelling requirements, seizes objectionable material and monitors websites.
The Online Child Exploitation Across New Zealand (OCEANZ) team coordinates international operations into online paedophile networks and patrols child exploitation sites.
Customs Officers seize objectionable content in order to prevent it from entering New Zealand. Content includes films, DVDs, games and devices such as laptops.
Cases involving objectionable material may lead to a jury trial. If a defendant disagrees that the material is objectionable, it is submitted to the Classification Office for a determination.
Offences and penalties
Committing an offence under the Films, Videos, and Publications Classification Act 1993 can lead to fines or imprisonment.
Offences relating to making, possessing and distributing objectionable content are serious criminal offences - distributing objectionable material, for example, can result in a maximum of 14 years imprisonment.
Plain English guide
This guide provides useful information about specific offences and penalties.
Legislation and regulations
The offence provisions can be read in full on the New Zealand Government's legislation website.