Your rights and common problems if you use a carrier to move and transport products or get a business to send or deliver products for you.

Carrier services

A carrier is any business that carries products owned by another person. That includes furniture movers, tow truck companies, public transport services, a stevedore or warehouse worker who handles products in transit, airlines for checked-in luggage, and courier services.

All carrier services are covered by the consumer guarantees under the Consumer Guarantees Act (CGA). Their liability is limited under the contract of carriage and the Carriage of Goods Act.

Timeframe for delivery

When a business accepts your payment for products, and they arrange for delivery, they must supply them within the timeframe they said. If no time was specified, the business must supply them to you within a reasonable time under the CGA.


Most carriers will only take products at the owner's risk. Usually your house and contents insurance won’t cover items in transit. So especially when moving house, get specific insurance cover, either through the carrier or directly with an insurer.

Mail and postal services

These services are regulated by the Postal Services Act 1998. See Postal legislation (external link) on the NZ Post website for more information.

Know your rights

When a carrier transports your possessions, they must comply with:

  • the Carriage of Goods Act, which covers the carrier’s liability for loss or damage to all products while they are with the carrier
  • the Consumer Guarantees Act (CGA), which covers any other losses if the carrier doesn’t carry out the transport service with reasonable skill or care.

Carriage of Goods Act

The Carriage of Goods Act applies to all carriers who transport goods by road, rail, sea or air within New Zealand. The Act does not cover mail services. When you organise freight or courier of products, if there’s loss or damage, you don’t have to prove its cause. You can be paid out under the Carriage of Goods Act, up to the maximum limits of liability.

All carriage contracts must be in writing. You and the carrier must discuss and agree on the terms of the contract. Their liability for loss or damage depends on the type of contract you choose. Choose from four types of carrier contracts:

  • declared value risk – the carrier is liable for the amount stated in the contract
  • owner's risk – you’re responsible for any loss or damage (unless it’s intentionally caused)
  • declared terms – the carrier’s liability depends on particular agreed terms in the contract
  • limited carrier’s risk – the carrier is liable for up to $2,000 per unit of goods.

A unit of items is each separate item given to the carrier (usually a box). The distinction is important because it defines the carrier’s liability – how much they have to pay you for any loss or damage to your goods.

If you don’t have a written contract, the products are at limited carrier’s risk.

The products must be picked up and delivered during the period of time or at the time you agreed. Carriers often exclude liability for delays, so make sure you read the contract carefully before you sign it.

You can't claim extra losses suffered as a result of the lost or damaged products from the carrier under the CGA.

Carriers aren’t liable for loss or damage directly resulting from:

  • an inherent defect in the products
  • products that weren’t properly prepared and packed
  • a legal requirement that wasn’t met (like packing of dangerous goods)
  • products that were taken from the carrier by legal process
  • when the carrier was saving or trying to save life or property.

Get insurance cover when moving house, as loss or damage to your items may not be covered otherwise.

Consumer Guarantees Act

Under the CGA, you have rights:

  • if the carrier provides faulty service
  • for lost or damaged hand and checked-in luggage
  • for lost or damaged delivered products
  • for late delivery if a timeframe was agreed or if not for unreasonable delay if no timeframe agreed beforehand
  • for intentional damage.

If the carrier or their employee intentionally damages or loses your goods, the person at fault must pay for loss or damage, up to the full value.

Read Faulty or unsatisfactory services for more information.

Hand and checked-in luggage

You’re responsible for hand luggage you keep with you during a trip. However, the carrier must compensate you if that luggage is lost or damaged through their carelessness. Checked luggage is treated the same as other transported goods.

Lost or damaged products or late delivery organised by a business

If you ordered products and the retailer arranged delivery, they are responsible for delivery under the CGA. Products must arrive in acceptable condition and on time. If the products arrive damaged, late, or not at all, talk to the supplier, not the carrier.

See also:

Contact the carrier or the retailer

Under the Consumer Guarantees Act you have 30 days at the most to make a claim for loss or damage to products. You may have less time if this is set out in your contract with the carrier.

If you have problems with products that are delivered by a retailer or trader, then contact them directly to fix the problem.

Read Resolve a problem to find out more.

Next steps

If you are unable to resolve your issue directly with the retailer, manufacturer or service provider, our Resolve It tool has information to help you take the next steps. These may include going to the Disputes Tribunal or District Court.

Resolve it: Moving and freighting goods

Need more help?

Contact us for more guidance.

Common situations

At limited carrier’s risk

Elaine organises a carrier to shift her new bed at limited carrier’s risk. If Elaine dismantles the bed base, headboard, and mattress, the carrier will transport three units of goods (even if they pack the items on one pallet). The carrier’s total liability is $6,000 ($2,000 per item).

At owner’s risk

Mark arranges for his possessions to be moved by truck to his new flat. He does the packing. The carrier’s contract is 'at owner’s risk'. In spite of this, Mark does not get insurance cover. When he unpacks his boxes at the other end, he finds out some of his kitchenware is broken. Mark will not be able to claim under the Carriage of Goods Act. He can try to make a claim for repairs under the Consumer Guarantees Act, but only if he can prove that the movers did not use all reasonable care and skill when moving his boxes.

Delivery of faulty products

Brad buys a mobile phone from an online trader through Trade Me. The phone arrives damaged. Brad contacts the seller and he agrees to replace the phone once Brad has posted back the damaged phone for inspection. Brad posts positive feedback about the trader once he receives the replacement.