Physical security


Secure rooms, safes, and vaults

Consider using a secure rooms, safes, or vaults instead of containers to protect large quantities of official information or valuable physical assets.

Using secure rooms

Secure rooms are suitable for storing large quantities of official information. The minimum construction and security requirements for secure rooms are in the following classified documents (contact the PSR team for more information):

  • NZSIS Technical Note - Class A Secure Room
  • NZSIS Technical Note - Class B Secure Room
  • NZSIS Technical Note - Class C Secure Room.

When you’re selecting the minimum level of security for security rooms that will store official information, you must use this table.

Choosing safes and vaults

Store unclassified material in commercial safes and vaults designed to give a level of protection against forced entry that matches the BIL of the assets.

Commercial grade security safes and vaults provide varying degrees of protection, so seek the advice of a qualified locksmith or manufacturer. They’ll tell you which criteria you need to use when you’re choosing a commercial safe or vault.

Safes and vaults can be fire-resistant (either document or data), burglary-resistant, or a combination of both. 

Seek advice from a reputable manufacturer before you install a commercial safe or vault for protecting valuable physical assets.

For items that you can’t secure in safes or vaults (such as large items), use other controls that give the same level of intrusion resistance and delay. Use this table.


Fitting vehicle safes

Consider fitting vehicle safes to vehicles used to carry valuable physical assets or official information.

Vehicle safes provide some protection against opportunistic theft. However, they’re not designed to protect vehicles left unattended for prolonged periods (for example, overnight).

Vehicles safes are of similar construction to low-grade commercial security containers or NZSIS-approved Class C containers.

Your risk assessment may show that you need additional controls to mitigate some risks when vehicles are used to transport protectively-marked material or valuable assets.

To ensure the effectiveness of a vehicle safe, consider:

  • bolting the safe to the vehicle (preferably out of sight)
  • fitting anti-theft controls such as immobilisers and alarms.

Following best practice: NZ and international standards

The New Zealand Standard AS/NZS 3809:1998 Safes and strongrooms provides advice on design criteria for safes and strongrooms (secure rooms) used to protect valuable physical assets.

It categorises safes and vaults as:

  • basic — suitable for homes, small businesses, offices
  • commercial — suitable for medium retail, real estate agents
  • medium security — suitable for large retail, post offices
  • high security — suitable for financial institutions, clubs
  • extra high security (vaults only) — suitable for high-volume financial institutions.

The following international standards meet similar design criteria to the New Zealand Standard:

These international standards provide advice on testing for fire resistance in safes:

Page last modified: 6/06/2019

Supporting documents