Postal operators in New Zealand
This page provides information on applying to be a postal operator and your obligations and rights as a postal operator in New Zealand.
Applying to be a postal operator
If you wish to become a postal operator in New Zealand you must complete an Application for Registration form (PO1):
Every individual operator, director and chief executive of a postal operator must complete a Declaration by Individuals, Directors and Chief Executives form (PO2):
To change any of your registration information, complete a change of details on postal register form (PO3):
Registering as a postal operator
Registration is normally automatic unless the applicant, or any person involved in the management of the business, has been convicted of any of the following criminal offences in the last 10 years:
- a crime involving dishonesty within the meaning of section 2 of the Crimes Act 1961.
- an offence against any of sections 6, 7, 9 or 12 of the Misuse of Drugs Act 1976
- an offence against sections 20, 23 or 24 of the Postal Services Act 1998 that relate to divulging information from a postal article, unlawfully opening a postal article, or posting a dangerous item
- any similar offence from another country.
If an applicant has committed a criminal offence, their application will be individually assessed.
Registration is not always required
You don't have to register as a postal operator if you carry letters:
- other than as a business, such as if you are delivering your own mail
- as an employee or agent of a postal operator
- under a contract for services with a postal operator.
Penalties for non-registration
Anyone who carries on business as a postal operator without being registered could be convicted and fined up to $10,000 and another $1,000 for every day that the offence continues.
Information required to register
Prospective postal operators must provide the following information:
- place of business
- names and addresses of individual operators or partners, or the chief executive and directors
- a statutory declaration related to their criminal records, if any
- brief details of the proposed business
- samples of the proposed postal identifier (see What Is a Postal Identifier below).
There is a penalty of up to $10,000 for knowingly providing false or misleading information, and registration can be cancelled. Registration details are made available on this website and at our head office.
Registered operators have the right to access and amend their information.
A non-refundable application fee of $95 (including GST) is payable at the time of your application.
Postal operators’ obligations and rights
The information below is intended as a guide to the obligations and rights of postal operators, and does not constitute legal advice.
If you are intending to become a postal operator, you should read the Postal Services Act 1998(external link).
Carrying and delivering letters for profit
Anyone can carry out business as a postal operator by collecting, carrying or delivering letters, provided they are registered as a postal operator with us.
Postal operators must fulfil certain criteria and follow the provisions of the Postal Services Act.
Classification of a letter
A letter is defined in the Postal Services Act as any form of written communication or document or article addressed to a specific person or address. It must not be conveyed by electronic means or by a courier service.
- A letter includes envelopes, packets, packages or wrappers for which a charge is made to carry it, take charge of it, or send it.
- Letters must not exceed 260 mm in height, 385 mm in length, 20 mm in thickness, or 1 kg in weight. (Note: this is the updated definition of a letter, amended in 2017.)
Rights of postal operators
Registered postal operators have certain rights that are not available to other organisations and individuals involved in the delivery business. By law, they can:
- hold, open and examine postal articles that break certain laws
- apply to the district court for an order to dispose of seized postal articles
- open postal articles to enable them to be delivered
- erect public letterboxes in accordance with relevant planning rules
- be exempt from liability if letters are lost or delayed.
Obligations of postal operators
The Postal Services Act imposes a number of obligations on postal operators. By law, they must:
- contact the relevant government authority if a postal article or letter is found that breaks the law
- keep a record of all postal articles held or opened, and allow anyone with the delegated authority of the Chief Executive of the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment access to that record
- tell recipients if a postal article will be, or has been opened, and why (unless this interferes with a law enforcement investigation)
- keep any held items safely before disposal
- notify us of any changes to their registration information
- mark mail with their unique postal identifier
- remove or disable all public letterboxes and deliver all postal items before they cease business
- help maintain the Trade in Endangered Species Act and prevent any endangered, threatened or exploited species from being imported or exported.
Postal operators must mark mail they carry with a postal identifier, which is:
- affixed to, impressed or printed on postal articles
- unique to them
- clearly indicates to the public that postal articles have been, or are intended to be, accepted for delivery by that postal operator.
A postal identifier may be a name, logo, stamp, postmark or other label or mark that can be as simple as a rubber stamp bearing the postal operator's name.
All postal identifiers must be registered with us, and available for public inspection as part of the register of postal operators.
About copyright and trademark issues
We don't have statutory power to decline to register postal identifiers that include copyrighted words or trademarks. Nor do we check proposed postal identifiers against the trademark database.
- Copyright or trademark issues should be resolved between the parties concerned.
- Registration of a postal identifier does not create a trademark or other proprietary right.
- Operators who wish to protect their name are advised to seek independent legal advice.
Other laws postal operators need to comply with
Postal operators must comply with all relevant laws including transport, planning and tax laws. They are responsible for ensuring they comply with laws and regulations. If unsure, they should seek independent legal advice.
You must have a transport service licence issued by the New Zealand Transport Agency if you operate a goods service vehicle.
Only postal operators designated as New Zealand's Universal Postal Union administration can issue official New Zealand stamps, ie a stamp with the words, or abbreviation for 'New Zealand'. Currently, New Zealand Post Ltd has sole right to this designation.
However, any postal operator can issue other unofficial stamps for the mail they carry. They can use the words 'New Zealand' only if:
- the words appear as part of the postal operator's name on the stamp
- the words form part of the postal operator's registered name
- the company name appears in full on the stamp
- the words are in the same typeface and point size as the company name.
It is an offence punishable by a fine of up to $10,000 for anyone other than a Universal Postal Union-designated operator to issue stamps with the words 'New Zealand' in any other form.