Sailing to the Cook Islands

The Cook Islands Biosecurity Service operates very strict biosecurity procedures at all sea ports. The Biosecurity Service focus is to manage biosecurity risk by monitoring, inspections and management of regulated items to prevent the introduction of unwanted pests and diseases of plants and animals. A regulated item is any item which is likely to pose a biosecurity risk to the Cook Islands and can include sea vessels, equipment, fresh produce, meat, live animals and plants.

All vessels sailing to the Cook Islands including yachts, pleasure craft, fishing boats, cruise ships, containerized boats, and other vessels need to meet a number of obligations prior to and on arrival to ensure Cook Island’s environment, economy and people are protected from imported pests and diseases. We love to have visitors in the Cook Islands and to help us protect our wonderful natural environment; there are some very strict requirements around animal and plant products. Please ensure that you meet all of our requirements for a smooth visit and quick clearance when you first arrive.

Port of Entry

Where can I enter?

Ports of entry conduct the daily, port-specific operations like vessel clearance, processing passengers arriving from abroad, clearance and inspection of cargoes and other duties associated with imports. Ports of entry are the level at which biosecurity enforces import and export laws and regulations. All vessels arriving in the Cook Islands must arrive at one of the following nominated Customs Ports of Entry: Under the Biosecurity Act 2008, Part 2 section 10 (1-10) the Director for Biosecurity will designate points of entry for sea ports where regulated articles may enter the Cook Islands. (Not all ports are yet designated port of entry under the Act). If, through an emergency, you have landed at a different place than planned, you must advise Biosecurity Service at the earliest and also alert Cook Islands Customs.

Avarua Wharf Rarotonga Island
Avatiu Wharf Rarotonga Island
Arutanga Wharf Aitutaki Island
Taunganui Wharf Atiu Island
Tukao Wharf Manihiki Island
Tauhunu Wharf Manihiki Island
Omoka Wharf Penryhn Island
Yato Wharf Pukapuka Island

What about Suwarrow Island?

Suwarrow is declared a National Park in 1978 under section 11 (1) of the conservation Act 1975 and is under control and management of the National Environment Service (NES). Suwarrow has never been approved as a port of call for a number of reasons but yachts currently call there and the Cook Islands Government has not discouraged this action. To preserve the pristine environment of Suwarrow, all cruising sailors that call into this protected area are advised to be on the alert for invasive species of animal and plant origin that may hitchhike on your vessel and become a problem if they escape undetected and landed on one of these islets.

How do I ensure that I meet all the conditions of the Biosecurity Service?

Before Arrival

Vessel sailing to the Cook Islands is required to fill in an Advance Notice Advice (ANA) with Cook Islands Customs, at least 48 hours prior to the expected arrival time in the Cook Islands. ANA forms can be downloaded at CICS Form 29 (Advance Notice of Arrival for Small Craft) or visit customs website:

You must also advise the Biosecurity Cook Islands of your arrival port and date, either by emailing the staff(s) of your planned destination.

On Arrival

As well as getting your Biosecurity and Customs (including Immigration) clearance you will need a Health Clearance. On arrival you will need to fill in or present a Master’s Certificate pertaining to any meat, fruit and vegetables, live plants and live animals on board to a Biosecurity Officer.

A Biosecurity Officer will ask to see any fruit, vegetables, meat and other food. Some of your goods may be seized, especially any fruit and vegetables. A Biosecurity Officer has the power to search the entire vessel and seize any risk products. Your co-operation with the Officer will ensure a rapid and smooth clearance.

You will receive a written clearance from a Biosecurity Officer once they are satisfied that all significant risk has been removed.

If you have any animal such as a dog, cat or birds aboard you will not be able to land it ashore anywhere in the Cook Islands. All animal(s) are required to be kept secured aboard the yacht, ship, boat and may be required to be bonded for the duration of your stay in the Cook Islands. This is fully refundable provided the conditions of bond have not been breached. Check our online website for information on importation of live animals.

In many cases there will be a set time for attendance (i.e. 8am and 4pm) where a Biosecurity officer is present.

If Suwarrow is your first port of call the Suwarrow Park Rangers will be conducting all Biosecurity formalities pertaining to the Biosecurity Act 2008. The park rangers are trained and appointed as Biosecurity officers.

For Further information regarding Biosecurity formalities for marine craft contact us on the following:

Email: Director for Biosecurity Service; [email protected]
Or Biosecurity Service: [email protected]
Phone: (682) 28711/28710