Quarantine Officer Āpiha Ārai Mate Hōrapa

Quarantine officers identify and control biosecurity risks at New Zealand's borders by inspecting goods and vessels arriving in the country.

Quarantine officers may do some or all of the following:

  • inspect aircraft, sea vessels, mail and cargo arriving in New Zealand for illegal goods, insects and micro-organisms
  • check aeroplane passengers and their luggage for illegal items
  • make sure that incoming cargo shipments have the right documentation
  • monitor and assess how effective biosecurity procedures are
  • identify and report biosecurity breaches.

Physical Requirements

Quarantine officers need to:

  • be reasonably fit and healthy as they spend long periods standing
  • have good eyesight (with or without corrective lenses)
  • have normal colour vision.

Useful Experience

Useful experience for quarantine officers includes work in the horticultural, agricultural or forestry industries.

For quarantine officers working as dog handlers, experience in animal handling or veterinary nursing is also useful.

Personal Qualities

Quarantine officers need to be:

  • enquiring and alert
  • firm and fair
  • observant, with an eye for detail
  • safety-conscious
  • good communicators
  • able to relate to people from a range of cultures
  • able to work well under pressure.


Quarantine officers need to have:

  • knowledge of goods from overseas that threaten the environment
  • knowledge of quarantine rules and standards
  • ability to carry out inspections and identify biosecurity risks.


Quarantine officers:

  • do shift work that may include nights and weekends, and they may sometimes be on call
  • work at all points of entry into New Zealand, including ports and airports. They also work in offices, international mail centres and baggage agent storage facilities
  • may travel between worksites.

Quarantine Officers can earn around $57K-$59K per year.

Pay for quarantine officers varies depending on their skills and experience.

  • New quarantine officers usually earn $57,000 to $59,000 a year.
  • After one to three years' experience they usually earn $59,000 to $67,000.
  • Senior quarantine officers with three to five years' experience usually earn $67,000 to $70,000.
  • Chief quarantine officers can earn up to $88,000.

Source: Ministry for Primary Industries and Public Service Association, 'Collective Agreement', 2019.

Quarantine officers may move into managerial or policy positions at the Ministry for Primary Industries.

Some quarantine officers specialise as dog handlers, working with sniffer dogs to inspect passengers, baggage, mail and cargo.

Years Of Training

To become a quarantine officer you need to:

  • be a New Zealand citizen or permanent resident
  • have a driver's licence
  • pass an eye test, including a test for full colour vision
  • complete security and police checks.

Employers usually prefer new quarantine officers to have:

  • at least two years’ experience in a related industry such as agriculture, horticulture or forestry
  • a degree in horticulture, agriculture, botany, forestry or biological sciences.
Quarantine Officer