What Can You Not Bring into Tonga?
Tonga border control has strict rules on what visitors can bring into the country. The majority of restricted or prohibited goods are those which pose a threat to the health and biosecurity of Tonga. For this reason, it’s best to be mindful about what you pack in your luggage and, more importantly, know what to declare when arriving in Tonga.
The article below will go over the most common examples of things that you will need to declare to Customs and Quarantine when arriving in Tonga. Declaring is done through the Tonga Passenger Arrival Card, which is given to you to complete during your flight. You can also declare verbally when you are passing through Customs and Quarantine in Tonga. For more information on the quarantine process, head to our Arrival Advice: Biosecurity and Customs in Tonga. Plus, get more advice in Everything You Need to Know About Arriving in Tonga.
What Happens if You Have Risk Goods?
The most important thing to remember when arriving in Tonga is to: Declare, Declare, Declare! If you are unsure whether you need to declare something or not, declare it anyway. You will not face penalties for declaring something. You are likely to face penalties for not declaring.
Disposing of Risk Items Before Passing Through Quarantine
Quarantine amnesty bins are readily available in Tonga’s international airports before passing through Customs and Quarantine so that you can dispose of any declarable or risk items that you have not declared on your Tonga Passenger Arrival Card. Dispose of any potential risk items that you have not declared into these bins. Ask a Quarantine Officer for advice if you are unsure.
What Happens to Undeclared Risk Items?
When passing through Quarantine, if any restricted, prohibited or declarable items are found in your luggage or in your possession, which you have not declared on your Passenger Arrival Card, you may face penalties. As the Ministry of Revenue & Customs states: “A false declaration to customs may result in you facing severe penalties or even being prosecuted!”
What if You Declare an Item and it is Prohibited or Restricted?
If you have declared an item that is deemed unsafe to enter the country then you may have the item confiscated. You may be given option for treatment of the item or exported to an overseas address, both at your own expense. For goods that you have to pay duty tax on, you’ll need to pay the duty and complete the relevant Customs forms.
Declaring Food When Arriving in Tonga
You must declare all food that you are bringing into Tonga. No matter what type of food it is, whether it’s cooked, uncooked, fresh, preserved, packaged or dried, you should declare it anyway. While some foods are allowed to pass through the border, many foods will be inspected and dealt with accordingly. Food that is considered a risk item will be inspected and likely destroyed if it deemed unsafe.
Visitors must declare the following food items for inspection:
- Meat and meat products, whether fresh or cooked
- Dairy products including cheese, milk, milk powder or instant meal products
- Egg and egg products including egg powder or instant meal products
- Honey, pollen, honeycombs and beeswax
- Fish whether fresh, dried and frozen
- Fruit and vegetables, whether fresh, dried, frozen or cooked
- Nuts, whether unprocessed and raw
- Herbs and spices
- Noodles and rice.
Declaring Animals & Animal Products
Any kind of animal, including reptiles, birds, aquatic life, etc. must be declared. Live animals must have a permit from the Biosecurity and Quality Management Division of the Government of Tonga.
On top of that, any animal products must be declared. Animal products refer to (but is not limited to):
- Animal food products including meat, dairy products, fish, honey, bee products and eggs
- Feathers, bones, tusks, furs, skins, hunting trophies, stuffed animals and reptiles
- Unprocessed wool and animal hair, including yams, rugs and apparel
- Live animals, pets, birds, fish and insects.
Declaring Plants & Plant Products
All plants and plant material must also be declared when arriving in Tonga. Many plant products will either need to be treated, need a permit or are strictly prohibited.
Examples of plant products that you need to declare are (but are not limited to), include:
- Plants live and dried, including plants cuttings
- Cut flowers, whether dried flowers and leaves
- Bulbs, corms, rhizomes and tubers
- Mushrooms and fungi, whether fresh or dried
- Pine cones and potpourri
- Bamboo, cane rattan, straw, basketware and mats in any form
- Wooden carvings and artefacts.
Other Quarantine Items to Declare
There are also other declarable items that don’t fall into the above categories, including biological items, camping, sports and farming gear. Some of these items may be a carrier of pests and diseases. While things like camping and sports gear are allowed to pass through Quarantine, they are likely to need to go through an inspection first. Make sure you clean all gear thoroughly before packing them for Tonga.
Other declarable items include:
- Animal remedies, foods and vaccines
- Riding equipment, including clothing, footwear and grooming equipment
- Equipment and clothing used in association with farm animals
- Camping gear and boots
- Equipment used for watersport or diving activities
- Gardening equipment
- Sports equipment used for hunting, hiking and golf
- Biological cultures or organisms
- Soil and water in any form.
Declaring Goods Subject to Duty
Travellers to Tonga must also declare any goods that might be subject to duty tax. That includes goods that are over the Tonga duty-free allowance. Questions concerning duty are asked on the Tonga Passenger Arrival Card. The items that might be subject to duty include:
Your personal items, such as clothing, clothing, footwear and articles of personal hygiene and grooming, etc. are free of duty as long as you own them at the time of arriving in Tonga and they are for your own personal use. The items in your luggage must be what a passenger would reasonably be expected to have in their bags.
Alcohol and Tabacco
You may bring alcohol and tobacco into Tonga as long as they are for personal use and not for sale, they are not being carried on behalf of another person, and the traveller is no younger than 18 years old.
There are also allowances on the amount of alcohol and tobacco you can bring into Tonga, which is as follows:
- Spirits not exceeding 2.25 litres (76oz) or wines not exceeding 4.5 litres (152oz) or beers not exceeding 4.5 litres (152oz)
- Cigarettes not exceeding 250 sticks or cigars not exceeding 250 grams (8.8oz) in net weight or tobacco not exceeding 250 grams (8.8oz) in net weight.
Other Dutiable Goods
You may bring other dutiable goods purchased from overseas into Tonga, such as gifts, souvenirs, electronic equipment, jewellery, watches and sporting equipment, as long as their value does not exceed TOP$500. The goods must be with you and intended for personal use.
For more about duty-free shopping and allowances in Tonga, see The Duty-Free Allowances for Tonga.
If you are in possession of TOP$10,000 or more in Tongan Pa’anga or the foreign equivalent then this needs to be declared. You will need to fill out the appropriate currency reporting form at Customs.
Prohibited & Restricted Imports
Finally, there are some goods that are either strictly prohibited from being imported into Tonga, as well as goods that are restricted (i.e. need a permit).
- Base, counterfeit or imitation currency, postage or revenue stamps
- Counterfeit goods
- Indecent or obscene material
- Goods bearing the royal Arms of the Kingdom without His Majesty’s written authority to use in connection with his trade, business, calling or profession
- All books and any written or printed matter and sounds and visual recordings that have been declared to be prohibited
- All toxic or hazardous wastes
- Illicit drugs.
This basically means that you can’t import the following goods into Tonga without completing the appropriate Customs forms.
- Firearms and ammunition
- Explosives or all kinds including fuses and detonators
- Noxious, stupefying or tear gas in any form and all weapons and instruments of appliances for firing or using such gases and gas containers or cartridges for such weapons or other instruments for appliances
- The amount of TOP$10,000 (or equivalent) or more in cash