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A country is the current name – either short or official – of a country, dependency, or other area of particular geopolitical interest.

The term ‘country’ includes:

  • independent countries recognised by the New Zealand Government
  • units that are recognised geographic areas
  • administrative subdivisions of the United Kingdom
  • overseas dependencies, external territories of independent countries. 

Operational issues

A country, even if it has other discrete political entities such as states, is treated as a single unit for all classification purposes.

Some economic statistics (such as overseas trade and balance of payments) need data to be coded to entities that do not equate directly to a single country or to countries at all.

These entities, and examples of the data that are coded to them, are:

  • ships’ bunkering – fuel/oil to be used on voyage by ships and aircraft leaving New Zealand
  • ships’ stores – goods (consumables and parts) for use on ships and aircraft leaving New Zealand
  • passengers’ effects – goods sold ex-licensed export warehouse (duty free store)
  • destination unknown – European Union (EU) – often applied to goods shipped to one country in the EU, but will be distributed to other EU countries.

In each case, there is no true country of classification (for example, where ships’ stores and bunkering are used en route, and passengers’ effects become the property of the individual).

The identification of country units in the classification, and the way in which they are grouped, does not imply the expression of any opinion by Statistics New Zealand about the legal status of any country, territory, or area, or about the delimitation of its frontiers or boundaries. 

Explanatory notes

The list of country titles used in this standard is based on the Standard country or area codes for statistical use established by the United Nations (UN, nd).

The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) assigns alpha codes to these country titles. These codes are published in the International Standard ISO 3166 Codes for the Representation of Names of Countries and their Subdivisions (ISO 3166) (ISO, nd). The New Zealand Standard Classification of Countries’ (NZSCC) two-character alpha codes are based on the country titles and the alpha codes in ISO 3166.

Statistics NZ includes countries in the standard once they are identified by the UN and the ISO. Their inclusion is subject to official recognition by the New Zealand Government and/or policy directives from the New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade. Numeric codes are then assigned in the NZSCC’s code sequence after consulting with the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

The two-character alpha codes are used for overseas trade and balance of payments purposes and provide the link to the New Zealand Customs Tariff list of countries.

Classification changes

The changes since the previous classification are:

  • The Australian states are no longer separately identified. Australia and its external territories are now in a single minor group. Previously there were two minor groups.
  • Europe has been split into two major groups, North-West Europe and Southern and Eastern Europe.
  • The NZSCC 1995 minor group United Kingdom and Ireland has been split into two minor groups to allow for separate identification of the United Kingdom (at the minor group level). Ireland is now a single country minor group.
  • The new European countries created from the former Soviet republics Moldova, Belarus, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Russia, and Ukraine have been included in the major group Southern and Eastern Europe. Russia has been included in Europe, even though much of it is geographically in Asia, because it meets the classification criteria based on similarity in social, cultural, economic, and political characteristics. It functions as a European country. European Russia has the majority of the population and has the seat of political and economic power.
  • The major group The Middle East and North Africa has been renamed North Africa and the Middle East after a discussion with the Australian Bureau of Statistics on the order of this major group.
  • The countries of Southeast Asia have been split into two minor groups: Mainland South-East Asia and Maritime South-East Asia as this is a region of growing economic interest.
  • The two major groups Northern America and South America, Central America and the Caribbean have been combined to form a single major group, The Americas.
  • Some minor changes to country names have been made to meet current naming conventions.  

Classification updating

The following procedures are followed if a country needs to be added to, deleted from, or moved within the classification:

  • If a country needs to be added to the classification, it will be given the next available four-digit code in the numerical sequence of codes of the minor group to which it is being added.
  • If a country ceases to exist as a separate entity, and it is deleted from the classification, its code will not be re-allocated to another country as this complicates the storage of time-series data. If it is necessary to move a country from one minor group to another, it will be given the next available code of the minor group to which it is moved. Its previous code will not be re-allocated. 
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