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Shopping online and overseas

Thinking about buying a radiocommunications device online or while overseas?

This page provides you with advice on how to avoid the pitfalls so that the product you buy can be legally used in New Zealand.

What is a radiocommunications product?

A radiocommunications product is any type of device that communicates wirelessly. These products are widely used.

They include items such as cordless phones, wireless broadband modems and routers, wireless microphones, two-way radios, baby monitors and remote control systems.

Why should I be careful about what I buy?

You could put lives at risk – If you buy a product which is not intended for use in New Zealand it could operate on the wrong frequency and may block or disrupt important communications systems, like those used by emergency services.

You could be out of pocket – If you buy a dodgy device from overseas, it’s possible you won’t get your money back.

You could receive a visit from MBIE Radio Inspectors – Inspectors investigate and locate the source of interference to licensed radiocommunications services. Their enquiries might lead to your doorstep. The consequences can be serious.

All radiocommunications products are subject to the requirements of the Radiocommunications Act 1989. There are various offences under this Act that could apply to the unlawful operation or possession of a radiocommunications device.


What do I need to do?

Make sure you STOP, THINK and QUESTION before you buy.

Use these simple tips:

[icon] Light bulb. Tip 1 - Research the product

Can it be legally used in New Zealand? Seeking other information to that provided by the seller may alert you to potential issues with the product.

In addition to any online searches conducted, visit the RSM website, which has detailed information on many devices, including high-risk items like radio jammers.

Is the deal too good to be true? If the product is far cheaper than known reputable brands, it may not operate as intended.

[icon] Light bulb. Tip 2 - Suss out the seller

Suppliers in New Zealand must meet a range of technical and compliance requirements before selling a radiocommunications device – but not all sellers comply.

Can you identify where the seller is located? Devices made for overseas markets may use the incorrect frequency in New Zealand and interfere with important services.

Does the seller look reputable? Only buy from websites that you know and trust. Check recommendations and feedback from other customers.

[icon] Light bulb. Tip 3 - Question the seller

If you’re unsure if the device can be lawfully used, ask the seller if it meets regulatory requirements and is allowed to be used in New Zealand. Be wary if the seller does not adequately address your
questions or concerns.

It’s your decision whether or not to buy the product. But before you enter those credit card details, think about the potential consequences and why you should be careful.


What is the role of the MBIE?

The Radiocommunications Act administered by the Ministry of Business, Innovation & Employment seeks to ensure that radiocommunications products supplied in New Zealand operate on the correct frequencies and meet electromagnetic compatibility (EMC) requirements so that other devices are not unintentionally interfered with.

Download the factsheet

Last updated 16 December 2014