Number of initial and full searches of electronic devices, 2018-2023

Dominic Scheirlinck made this Official Information request to New Zealand Customs Service

The request was successful.

From: Dominic Scheirlinck

Dear New Zealand Customs Service,

I would like to request the following information under the Official Information Act. I am an NZ citizen.

Your website says (at

> In 2018/19, Customs conducted 671 initial searches and 47 full searches of electronic devices, which were carried by 364 travellers – so 99.99% of the 14.5 million passengers travelling to and from New Zealand each year do not have their electronic devices searched.

Could you please tell me which days within the 2018/19 year this statistic pertains to? (The text "2018/19" implies a start/end date within the year. e.g. July 1 2018 to July 1 2019)

Then, I would like similar statistics for the 3 (or possibly 4) subsequent, complete, yearly periods, up until the present day. So, for each subsequent period ("2019/20", "2020/21", "2021/22" and "2022/23" (if complete)), I would like:

- The number of initial searches of electronic devices
- The number of full searches of electronic devices
- The number of passengers who were carrying such searched devices
- The total number of passengers travelling to and from NZ

In addition to these statistics, for each period, could you please tell me:

- The number of prosecutions made under section 228 subsection (8) of the Customs and Excise Act 2018 - i.e. failing to comply with duty to assist access to device
- The number of devices treated as forfeited by a Customs officer who retains a device under section 228 subsection (10) of that same act (i.e. prior to a person being convicted under subsection (8))
- The number of devices condemned to the Crown, destroyed, and returned, under section 228 subsection (11) of that same act (i.e. after a person is convicted under subsection (8))

I anticipate most of these data points (barring perhaps prosecutions) should be top-of-line statistics already prepared (e.g. total number of travellers), or able to be queried from the Customs database that records all searches involving an electronic device. Accordingly, I do not consider the scope of information contained in this request as being overly large or hard to collate.

I also consider there to be a strong public interest in this information, as these statistics will allow the public to evaluate the changes that have occurred as a result of the Customs and Excise Act 2018 passing into law.

Yours faithfully,
Dominic Scheirlinck

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New Zealand Customs Service

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From: OIA
New Zealand Customs Service

Attachment OIA 23 151 E device searches 2018 2022 1.pdf
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Attachment OIA 23 151 Scheirlinck Response Letter 1.pdf
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Tēnā koe Mr Scheirlinck,

Please find attached a response to your request for information on 19 April 2023.

Nāku noa, nā

Correspondence, Reviews and Ministerial Servicing
New Zealand Customs Service

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