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Information for New Zealand Customs officials

Officials from NZ Customs may submit a publication for classification to determine if it is objectionable.

This page explains:

Customs official scanning parcels

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How to submit a publication for classification

Customs officials may submit a publication for classification under section 13(1)(a) of the Films, Videos, and Publications Classification Act 1993 (the Classification Act). Submissions by Customs officials are made on behalf of the Chief Executive of New Zealand Customs.

To submit a publication for classification, Customs officials must complete a 'notice of submission'.

A notice of submission must include:

If there are a large number of publications, please submit a representative sample. For example, if there are a number of images depicting something similar or identical, then submit one of them.

If more than one publication is to be classified, include a schedule accurately naming the publications, and ensure that:

  • Any titles reflect the same capital and lower case conventions as those that appear on the publications (for example LL20i3Ep.jpg)
  • File extensions are accurately recorded, eg .mpeg or .jpeg or .jpg

There is no submission fee for Customs.

Please contact us if you have any questions.

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Written submissions from interested parties

The Classification Office will seek written submissions from interested parties.

When the Classification Office receives a publication from Customs, the Chief Censor decides who, other than the submitter, should be informed. This is so that interested parties, such as the person wishing to import the publication, can make written submissions about the classification of the publication.

The Classification Office will direct Customs to notify the interested parties, and give them a minimum of 14 working days to make submissions to the Classification Office. Time extensions can be sought by contacting the Classification Office.

Note that the Classification Office does not hold hearings or ask people to appear before it to make submissions in person.

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Example page of our Plain English Guide
Example page of our Plain English Guide to the Offence Provisions

Written notice outlining reasons for the decision

At the end of the classification process, the Classification Office will send a written Notice of Decision (under section 38 of the Classification Act) to NZ Customs. The Notice of Decision is also sent to interested parties. It details the findings of the Classification Office's examination of the publication under sections 3, 3A and 3B of the Classification Act.

Once the Notice of Decision has been sent, the decision is published in the public register of classification decisions. The register page includes a brief summary of reasons for the decision.

Classification register page
An example of a classification register page

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Appeals and reconsiderations

Classification Office decisions

Classification Office decisions may be appealed to the Film and Literature Board of Review

Once a classification has been entered into the public register of classification decisions, Customs, or 'the owner, maker, publisher, or authorised distributor of the publication' (section 47(2)) may seek a review by the Film and Literature Board of Review.

Getting a classification decision reviewed

Request by a person charged with an offence

A person charged with an offence can request that a classification decision be reconsidered after one year.

Classification Office or Board of Review decisions are regarded as conclusive evidence. However, once a year or more has elapsed, a court, at the request of a person charged with an offence under the Classification Act, can refer a decision to the Classification Office for reconsideration, or to the Film and Literature Board of Review where it is a decision of the Board's.

What the Classification Act says about seeking a reconsideration through the court

Once three or more years have elapsed, anyone, with the leave of the Chief Censor, can seek a reconsideration of a Classification Office decision.

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