Airlines that breach border protection obligations will face instant fines rather than a lengthy court process under new rules announced today.
Immigration Minister Nathan Guy said fines of between $500 to $5000, depending on the breach of the Immigration Act, would be introduced in July.
At present, breaches may be subject to court prosecutions, which can take time and money.
"This new regime will enable immediate action to be taken at the time of the offence," Mr Guy said.
The harshest of the eight fines are for failing to check a person has the required travel documents to enter New Zealand, such as a passport and appropriate visa, and for failing to comply with a directive not to allow a person to board.
Mr Guy said the changes, which airlines were consulted on, would strike the right balance between encouraging compliance with the law, and imposing a fair and reasonable cost on airlines that fail to comply.
"With more than 4.5 million people flying into New Zealand every year, it's important that we protect our borders and encourage compliance with the law," he said.
"Most airlines do a very good job of meeting their requirements, but we need to recognise the seriousness of not doing so. It can result in people entering New Zealand to work illegally, people trafficking, or costs to our health system."
The changes bring New Zealand in line with Australia, Canada, the United Kingdom and the United States, which all impose infringement fees on carriers.
Individual pilots would be fined only in cases where the owner, agent or charter company of the aircraft was not based in New Zealand - for instance, a private jet pilot flying passengers in for a visit.
- APNZBy Matthew Backhouse @Mbackhouse Email Matthew