Five Letters Re: New Zealand–Gun Laws and Immigration

Hello JWR,
I am a reader of your blog, and a New Zealand Citizen and firearms licence holder. I was pleasantly surprised to see your post [from Todd Savage] on New Zealand , and thought I could offer some more information.

MSSAs (Military Style Semi-automatics) are acceptable, but only with the E endorsement, as you stated. This endorsement costs NZ$200 and means more government involvement. What qualifies as an MSSA weapon may be quite different to what Americans are familiar with; especially as there are no magazine capacity limits. The distinction is based mostly on cosmetic features (like a bayonet lug or pistol grip) and often people can tack on a piece of metal to enclose a pistol grip and turn it into a class A firearm, which needs no endorsement.

In other words, you could shoot a semi-auto, with as large a magazine as you wish, from an enclosed pistol grip through a suppressor, all with just a basic firearms licence. Not bad at all, in that regard. Any person over 18 can own an air gun with no licence.

The A class licence requires you to go into the police station, pass a test on the New Zealand Arms Code, fill out an application form including reason for application and have a photo and details taken. This is loaded onto the national police database, so if you are stopped and queried by the police they will be aware of your ownership status. The police also visit your house, interview references and check your storage provisions. Licences last for 10 years and cost NZ $124.

One item from your post is incorrect; suppressors are not E class devices, anyone with a basic firearms licence can purchase them. Also for A class firearms, storage requirements are minimal. I screwed a thin sheet-metal locker to a wall in my household and attached a padlock, which was deemed sufficient storage for a small number of A class firearms. Gun stores also sell very inexpensive gun racks, which need just a padlock to comply with storage laws.

We’re not quite the land of freedom you might think, [the] Nanny state is alive and well here. You cannot carry any weapons for self defence (including firearms, pepper spray, Tasers or knives) and the police have a track record of prosecuting individuals who injure or kill others in legitimate self defence. Using firearms for self defence is severely frowned upon and if you give self defence as a reason for applying for your licence it will be denied (see below an excerpt from the Arms Code on self defence). Pistols are extremely difficult to own and shoot legally, and can only be used and carried at approved pistol ranges, without exception. Automatic weapons are illegal, with the exception of some specialist endorsements (such as collector), under which you may not fire them.

Self defence aside, New Zealand does have relatively sensible firearms laws that let you do many activities easily and legally. Feel free to come over! (Remember to get a “Permit to Import” first).

I hope this information is useful to you and your readers. Best Wishes, Craig D.



While things may have changes since my recent scouting mission to New Zealand. At that time, firearms laws were definitely heading the wrong way. Confiscations seemed an unfortunate eventuality. It was the main reason I nixed New Zealand as an ex-pat location. – SF in Hawaii


I hope you hear from someone who has actually tried to get an “E” Endorsement and/or import MSSAs into New Zealand because I would seriously doubt getting either
accomplished [by an ex-pat] would be easy. The firearm prices listed on the New Zealand gun store web site reflect amounts worse than what America experienced 1994-2004 and
this would represent a severe supply restriction.
New Zealand is also far from immune when it comes to the globalist march to ban civilian possession of small arms. See this site, and this site.

So tread carefully when it comes to recommending New Zealand as a place for freedom-loving Americans to tuck tail and retreat to when the going gets tough here. As an OIF veteran the last thing I’d want to see are honest believers in the original US Constitution abandoning the ship because a few waves came over the deck during
a storm! The phrase “sunshine patriot” would begin to come to mind.
Thanks and +1 on your work with SurvivalBlog, – Chris S.


Your piece on New Zealand needs to be augmented with a few key points.
New Zealand is a very left-leaning and liberal country, far more like Scandinavia than the US or Canada. If your views go towards the right or libertarian, you would probably be uncomfortable.
Gun controls are very restrictive by US standards. Most of the police are unarmed at all times. [JWR Adds: That is only true in terms of guns visible to the public. What is carried in the car boots (called “trunks” in the US) of senior officers is a different matter.] Handguns are quite rare. However, the murder rate in NZ, while growing, is only about 1/7 of that in the US on a per-capita basis.

An essential question to consider is whether a prospective immigrant will, in fact, be granted a visa to settle in NZ. New Zealand has among the most restrictive immigration policies in the world. New Zealand seeks immigrants who are young and college educated, healthy, with a good employment record, and clean police record. Persons 56 years old or older will not be granted permanent residency, though a temporary work permit may be possible. Qualifications are rated on a points system, and high scorers may (or may not) be invited to apply for residency.
Application is intrusive, and requires a full medical exam, an FBI background check, documentation of financial resources, and checks of references on education and employment. Information is available at this site.- Rick S.


Hi James,
A couple of minor corrections [to Todd’s post] regarding firearms in New Zealand: E category guns are not readily imported into the country which is why the prices are so high. To import your E category firearms you will first have to buy a “hand in” E category that is already in NZ like an SKS, then get an import permit. As an alternative, if you get a C cat (collectors) license endorsement you may be able import your collection without a “hand in” gun, but C cat weapons are not to be fired although you might be able to change your C cat to an E cat at some future time. Importing pistols (B cat) and PC rifles and shotguns (A cat) are no problem assuming you have the proper license endorsements.

Suppressors are covered by the basic A cat license, not E cat which is why they are so prevalent and inexpensive.

For detailed information on shooting sports you may want to try the IMAS web site where most questions about firearms in NZ will be answered. NZ is a wonderful place and I would encourage firearms enthusiast from all over the world to immigrate here and vote.

Regards, – Bert