(I am in New Zealand, but am interested in answers following British style law..

When entering into New Zealand (as with most countries), passengers are required to fill out an arrival card. At the bottom of this arrival card it states "I declare the information I have given is true, correct, and complete". The document also states "This arrival card is a legal document - false declarations can lead to penalties...".

A person is cited for "being required to make a declaration in relation to goods specified in that declaration, erroneously declared..." - where the only document in question was an arrival card. There was also a brief discussion with an MPI agent.

The act allegedly contravened is the Biosecurity Act 1993 - however this act does not define the word declaration, or use it this context.

There is another act - the Oaths and Declarations Act 1957, which does, in section 8-10 define "Manner of making declarations". If the arrival card meets neither the oath/affirmation requirementnor form or wording of the Oaths and Declarations Act - which seems to be the case here, legally speaking, [can and how/by what interpretation] be charged for making a false declaration such that it will hold up in court?

Relatedly, and maybe not clearly implied in the above question - (1) Can a declaration be verbal? (2) Relating to (minor) criminal charges ala parking tickets, does a declaration have to be in the form/is it covered by the Oaths and Declarations Act?


The Biosecurity Act 1993 gives inspector's the power to take declarations at s30(1B):

An inspector may require a person arriving in New Zealand to make a declaration about 1 or more of the following in a manner specified by the inspector:

A "manner specified by the inspector" can be either verbal or written.

Making a mistake in this declaration exposes the declarant to a penalty under s154N(21):

A person commits an offence against this Act who erroneously declares that he or she is not in possession of any or all of the goods specified in a declaration that the person is required to make about the goods.

And this is an infringement offence (meaning it can be dealt with summarily by an infringement notice) under the Biosecurity (Infringement Offences) Regulations 2010 attracting a fee of NZD400.

The declaration under the Biosecurity Act 1993 supersedes the requirements of the Oaths and Declarations Act 1957 because it specifically empowers inspectors to determine the manner of the declaration.

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  • While I disagree with some minutia of the above, I am VERY appreciative of what you have said, and you have certainly helped fill in the gap I was looking to fill, and what you say makes a lot of sense. Thank you. – davidgo Aug 27 '19 at 7:32

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