Refunds or waivers of levies

Information on refunds or waivers of maritime and oil pollution levies, how to make an application if you believe that it is applicable to any of your vessels, and how to contact us if you have any questions.

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Maritime Levies

Maritime Levies apply to all commercial ships (New Zealand and foreign) operating in New Zealand waters, whether on a permanent, temporary, or occasional basis.

The levies fund maritime safety regulatory and compliance activities undertaken by Maritime New Zealand, and must be paid regardless of whether the activities are used by the owner or operator of a particular commercial ship. The levies methodology has already taken into account that vessels do not operate all of the time and are not always full. More information on the Maritime Levies can be found here.

The Maritime Levies are liable to be paid under the Maritime Levies Regulations 2016, and there is no discretion as to whether they are imposed. There are very limited provisions for waivers or refunds of levies set out in the regulations.

Grounds for refunds or waivers

For commercial vessels that have Maritime Levies liability, refunds or waivers of levies may be available in an individual case for each ship. Any application made is for a particular ship.

The Director of Maritime NZ must give a refund or waiver if satisfied that a ship has met one of the grounds below. If the Director is satisfied that one of the grounds below have been met and the maritime levies has already been paid, a refund is made for the appropriate proportion of the maritime levies to the person who paid the levies. If the maritime levies have not been paid, the appropriate proportion of the maritime levies otherwise payable is waived (and the remaining proportion still needs to be paid).

Laid up for surveys or repairs

Where a ship has been laid up for surveys or repairs for a period of three consecutive months or more, a refund or waiver may be granted for the appropriate portion of the maritime levies.

Out of commission

Where a ship has been out of commission for a period of three consecutive months or more, a refund or waiver may be granted for the appropriate portion of the maritime levies.

‘Out of commission’ is defined in the Regulations as a ship being:

  • incapable of operation as a result of being wrecked, stranded, or disabled while in a New Zealand port, or on the New Zealand coast, or proceeding from one New Zealand port to another.
  • prohibited from operation by the Director exercising his or her powers under the Act.
  • prevented from operation by an employment relationship problem (for example, a strike or lockout).

Not operated in any New Zealand waters nor entered any New Zealand port

A refund of maritime levies may be granted if a ship has not operated in any New Zealand waters or entered any New Zealand port during the levy year for which Maritime Levies have been paid, where:

  • New Zealand port means any place within New Zealand waters where any ship is anchored or moored, or a place designated as a Customs port under section 55 of the Customs and Excise Act 2018.
  • New Zealand waters means the territorial sea of New Zealand, and the internal waters of New Zealand, and all rivers and other inland waters of New Zealand.

Only a refund is available and needs to be for the full levy year, which is the 12-month period beginning on 1 July in any year.

Ship becomes exempt

A refund may be granted for the appropriate portion of the maritime levies where a ship has become a ship that is exempt from maritime levies. That is ships of any of the following classes:

  • Ships that put in to any New Zealand port because of stress of weather; or because of, or to repair, damage – only if no passenger permanently embarks or disembarks and no cargo (other than fuel or supplies intended for use on board) is loaded or permanently unloaded.
  • Pleasure craft – meaning a ship that is not offered or used for hire or reward and is used exclusively for the owner’s pleasure or as the owner’s residence, or for recreational purposes by the member of a club or incorporated society or beneficiaries of a trust that owns the ship. It excludes a ship operated or provided by a business; provided for transport, sport, or recreation by, or on behalf of, an institution, hotel, motel, place or entertainment, or other establishment or business.
  • Ships that are used in searching for or rendering emergency assistance to any person or ship (and that would not otherwise be liable for maritime levies).
  • New Zealand commercial ships for which a maritime document is not required, and that are operated as part of an adventure activity registered under the Health and Safety at Work (Adventure Activities) Regulations 2016.

Oil Pollution Levies (OPL)

Oil Pollution Levies (OPL) apply to all commercial vessels over 100 gross tons and more than 24 metres in length (except those operating in fresh water) that use oil as fuel and/or carry oil as cargo, offshore oil installations, exploration wells and oil pipelines. The OPL is based on an assessment of the risks related to marine oil spills around New Zealand calculated on a sector share basis.

The OPL is collected from industry to run New Zealand’s maritime oil pollution preparedness and response system. More information on the OPL can be found here.

The OPL is liable to be paid under the Maritime Transport (Oil Pollution Levies) Order 2016, and there is no discretion as to whether they are imposed. There are very limited provisions for refunds of the OPL set out in the regulations.

Grounds for refunds or waivers

For vessels that have OPL liability, refunds may be available in an individual case for each ship. Any application made is for a particular ship. See further information on making an application. Note: Only refunds are available for OPL, there are no provisions for waivers.

The Director may consider granting a refund if satisfied that a ship has met one of the grounds below. If the Director grants a refund, a refund is made for the appropriate proportion of the OPL to the person who paid the levies.

Laid up for surveys or repairs

Where a ship has been laid up for surveys or repairs for a period of at least 30 consecutive days during the year, a refund may be granted for the appropriate portion of the OPL.

Out of commission

Where a ship has been out of commission for a period of three consecutive months or more, a refund or waiver may be granted for the appropriate portion of the maritime levies.

‘Out of commission’ is defined in the Regulations as a ship being:

  • incapable of operation as a result of being wrecked, stranded, or disabled while in a New Zealand port, or on the New Zealand coast, or proceeding from one New Zealand port to another
  • prohibited from operation by the Director exercising his or her powers under the Act
  • prevented from operation by an employment relationship problem (for example, a strike or lockout).

Not entering port during year

A refund of OPL may be granted if a ship has not entered a New Zealand port during the year, where New Zealand port means any place within New Zealand waters where any ship is anchored or moored, or any place designated as a Customs port under section 55 of the Customs and Excise Act 2018.

Only a refund is available and needs to be for the full year, which is the 12-month period beginning on 1 July in any calendar year.

Refunds for certain oil sites

A refund of the appropriate portion of the OPL may be granted if a contributing oil site has not been operating for a period of at least 30 consecutive days during the year.

Change of use

A refund may be granted for the appropriate portion of the OPL where the use of a ship has changed so that the ship no longer falls within the class of ship with respect to which the levy was determined. Refer to the Maritime Transport (Oil Pollution Levies) Order 2016 clauses 6, 8 and 10 or contact us if you think this applies to you.

Application examples

These are examples, and it is important to note that each application needs to be considered on the information provided for each vessel and that there may be other factors that could lead to a different outcome.

I have had repairs made to my ship that took four months.
It sounds like your ship may have been laid up for surveys or repairs and that this was for longer than 3 consecutive months for Maritime Levies and 30 consecutive days for Oil Pollution Levies.

For this ship, you may be able to get one third (4/12 months) of your Maritime Levies and/or Oil Pollution Levies refunded if you have already paid them, or for Maritime Levies waived if you have not yet paid.

I have had a survey completed that took eight weeks.
It sounds like your ship may have been laid up for surveys or repairs and that this was for longer than 30 consecutive days for Oil Pollution Levies. It was not long enough to apply for a refund or waiver of Maritime Levies, which needs to be for 3 consecutive months or longer.

For this ship, you may be able to get 6.5% (8/52 weeks) of your OPL refunded. It is not likely you will be able to get a refund or waiver for Maritime Levies

I had some repairs completed that took six weeks, my ship operated for a month and then I needed further repairs and a survey that took two months. I only pay Maritime Levies.
It sounds like your ship may have been laid up for surveys or repairs however for Maritime Levies there were not 3 consecutive months or longer, and therefore this does not meet the grounds for a refund or waiver.

My ship has been disabled for the past six months as it was stranded in a storm while anchored at a NZ port.
It sounds like your ship may have been out of commission and that this was for longer than longer than 3 consecutive months for Maritime Levies and 30 consecutive days for Oil Pollution Levies.

For this ship, you may be able to get half (6/12 months) of your Maritime Levies and/or Oil Pollution Levies refunded if you have already paid them, or for Maritime Levies waived if you have not yet paid.

I have not operated my ship in any way since May and don’t plan to start operating it in any way again until at least July next year.
If you have not operated your ship in any way for the entire period between 1 July and 30 June the next year, you may qualify for a refund. If you consider you qualify, you can contact Maritime NZ to explain and discuss your circumstances further.

I have sailed my ship from New Zealand waters to Australian waters and it will not be operating in NZ waters from August to January.
It is likely this ship would be considered to have operated in New Zealand waters or having entered a NZ port during the year and that levies may still need to be paid in full, as a refund is only available if these grounds are met for the entire year (1 July to 30 June).

My staff have been on strike and that has prevented me from operating my vessel.
It sounds like your ship may have been out of commission – it will depend how long the strike was for as it needs to be longer than longer than 3 consecutive months for Maritime Levies and 30 consecutive days for Oil Pollution Levies.

I used to charter my yacht commercially, but have decided to no longer do this and so from October it will only be used by me for my pleasure. I only pay Maritime Levies.
This will depend whether the ship becomes exempt from Maritime Levies by becoming a pleasure craft. Whether this is possible depends on who the ship is operated or provided by, what it is being used for and who will be using it. This is a complex area and you should seek further advice from Maritime New Zealand.

I have reduced the passenger capacity on my vessel by 50% during COVID-19 alert level restrictions. Can I get a credit for the reduced passenger numbers during this period?
The passenger capacity (Pax Cap) used to calculate the levies is the maximum passengers a vessel can carry on board (not including crew or staff). If a vessel has more than one Pax Cap the highest one must be used. The Pax Cap rate has already assumed that vessels are not always full and may operate part-time/seasonally. There is no specific refund or waiver grounds available in this example, and the levies will need to be paid in full unless one of the other grounds applies.

Making an application for refunds or waivers

Any application for refunds or waivers is made in writing for a particular ship where you believe one of the above grounds applied. An online application form will guide you through making this application.

Important note on timeframes:

If applying for a refund or waiver for maritime levies, we recommend you make your application within 12 months of the date on which payment was made (for a refund) or became due (for a waiver), as the Director is not obliged to refund or waive the maritime levies after this time.

For a refund of oil pollution levies, we recommend you make an application within a similar period as the Director retains a discretion as to whether to grant the refund and one factor that may be considered in exercising that discretion is the timeliness of the application.

Apply online now

Questions about refunds or waivers

If you have questions about refunds of Maritime Levies or Oil Pollution Levies or waivers of Maritime Levies, you can contact us by email at refunds.waivers@maritimenz.govt.nz, or by using the online query form below.

Online query form

For other questions or if you need to contact us:

  • Vessel ownership change request form
  • Submit a vessel change of status / ownership form or have already and our vessel records are still incorrect – email operators@maritimenz.govt.nz
  • Incorrect details on your invoice – email accounts.receivable@maritimenz.govt.nz with your customer number and new contact details
  • Questions about your invoice – email accounts.receivable@maritimenz.govt.nz and quote your customer and invoice number
  • For information on the Maritime Levies & other changes

Other COVID-19 support

If you would like to explore the possibility of accessing the various mechanisms that have been established to address financial hardship and support businesses as a result of COVID-19, then further information can be found at the web links below:

You can also find up-to-date information on the COVID-19 response from Maritime NZ at https://www.maritimenz.govt.nz/covid/default.asp or across the transport sector (land, sea and air) from the Ministry of Transport at https://www.transport.govt.nz/about/covid-19/.