- What Are The Requirements For Importing A Vehicle?
- Vehicle Entry Certification
- Meeting Frontal Impact And Safety Emissions Standards
- Carrying Out A Vehicle Inspection
- Applying For An Mr2A
- Which Vehicles Are Mandated To Be Entry-Certified?
- Are There Any Concessions Or Exemptions For Importing Vehicles?
- Immigrants' Vehicles
- 'Special Interest' Vehicles
- What Happens Once Your Vehicle Reaches New Zealand?
- Border Inspections And Customs
- How Much Does It Cost To Transfer A Car To New Zealand?
- A Quick Overview Of The Process
It can seem daunting having to take your car to another country, especially since there are so many rules and regulations when it comes to automobiles.
There are several steps involved, and the different documents needed can get overwhelming. Having to sort out the various forms and costs cannot be very clear.
That's why we're here to walk you through the process and ensure you have everything you need for a smooth transition. We've compiled a detailed list of everything you'll need to know when moving your car to New Zealand.
What are the Requirements for Importing a Vehicle?
You'll often hear that New Zealand is a beautiful country filled with greenery, and the government has taken strict measures to preserve that. Since there are many regulations on emissions, there are some safety guidelines you'll need to familiarize yourself with.
The three central agencies that ensure vehicles entering New Zealand are eligible for on-road use are the New Zealand Transport Agency, NZ Customs Service, and the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI).
The transport agency enforces agencies that determine whether vehicles entering the country pass specific requirements.
Customs go over requirements like import tax or duty, while the MPI observes biosecurity which includes checking the presence of dirt or bugs on the wheels or otherwise.
The interior and exterior are scrutinized, and if the vehicle doesn't pass, it is cleaned at a decontamination facility at your expense.
Once the car arrives in New Zealand, the MPI will make a quarantine inspection followed by a border inspection. You'll have to arrange an appointed agency to do the inspection, and once the vehicle has passed, it'll move on to Customs.
Most vehicles undergo rigorous inspections, and relaxations are only provided for vehicles registered as an immigrant or a 'special interest.'
Vehicle Entry Certification
First, you'll need to have your vehicle entry certified before transporting it into New Zealand. Certain testing stations approved by the NZ Transport Agency have the authority to determine whether your car is eligible for transport.
They'll cover important ground to make sure the process is hassle-free.
Meeting Frontal Impact and Safety Emissions Standards
This first step depends on what type your vehicle is. There are different rules for different types. If we take class MA passenger cars, the car must have been manufactured to meet frontal impact and exhaust emissions standards and Electronic Stability Control (ESC) requirements.
The only exceptions are if it's over 20 years old, a special interest car, or you're returning to the country. Remember that your vehicle either meets these standards or doesn't: it's not something that can be rectified.
Vehicles using LPG and CNG also undergo additional inspections to ensure the fuel systems are safe.
Alternatively, inquire whether your model has ever had a recall issued because of manufacturing defects. This step ensures you don't have to worry about remedying it after it was registered.
If the vehicle is found to have been recalled, then you'll be required to remedy it before registration, adding an inconvenient step to an already complicated process. If registered, your Warrant of Fitness (WoF) or Certificate of Fitness (CoF) might be revoked until correction. Your vehicle will be entered into the system with a 'ban flag.'
Once you've repaired the defect, you need to provide written confirmation from the manufacturers or a franchise dealer before it is accepted.
Carrying Out a Vehicle Inspection
Once there's nothing wrong with the make and model, the next step is ensuring the vehicle is suitable for import.
First, the testing station will determine whether the vehicle is still in good condition. This step will help them decide whether your vehicle needs repairs or specialist certification to meet legal safety regulations. All vehicles must pass the WoF, and most should be right-hand drives.
Then, you'll need to ensure the fuel consumption, CO2, gross vehicle mass, and unladen weight information is available because you'll need the documented evidence.
The testing station also verifies who legally owns the vehicle with proof and whether it has a valid VIN assigned and affixed. The chassis and frame numbers also need to be correct, as any discrepancy in paperwork can result in the vehicle not being eligible to be registered for on-road use.
Although you can go through this procedure independently, it's advised to take the help of an entry certifier because they can rigorously inspect your vehicle to ensure there's no problem importing it.
Applying for an MR2A
Once your vehicle has been determined to meet all standards, the entry certifier will apply for an application to register a motor vehicle form, or MR2A, and a WoF or CoF.
Finally, you'll be sent an invoice for the certification cost.
Which Vehicles are Mandated to be Entry-Certified?
If you're moving to New Zealand, chances are your vehicle you'll have a family car.
Vehicles are divided into light and heavy based on the Gross Vehicle Mass (GVM). Most of your common-use cars fall in the former category.
Vehicles that need entry-certified include mopeds, motorcycles, cars, off-road passenger vehicles, vans, utes, minibusses, and heavy vehicles.
They don't apply to low-powered vehicles, or light trailers, while older pre-1990 vehicles only need to meet specific requirements.
If you're unsure which class your vehicle is, you can ask your entry certifiers.
Are there Any Concessions or Exemptions for Importing Vehicles?
Certain vehicles might not be required to pass all the entry certification standards, but if you're moving to the country for the first time, this probably doesn't apply to you unless you have a 'special interest' car.
Inquire with your entry certifier to see if you're eligible to apply for either category since the concessions let you forgo certain entry requirements.
There are specific requirements to determine whether your vehicle is eligible to be considered an immigrant:
- You must be a New Zealand citizen returning to the country or have been granted permanent residency.
- Before entering the country, you must have lived outside New Zealand for at least 21 months.
- Before entering
- In New Zealand, you must have owned and registered the vehicle for personal use in another country for at least a year.
- You must import it within 18 months of entering the country.
- You don't have another vehicle registered in the category.
- You can't import it on behalf of a third party.
- Won't sell or lease it for at least a year after arrival in the country.
- You cannot use the vehicle for a transport service.
There are no exceptions to these standards, and you must meet each one to be able to register an immigrant's vehicle.
Although you'll still have to meet general requirements, you can be waived from meeting frontal impact and emission standards. It is an offense to make untrue claims, so ensure the legitimacy of each document you provide to avoid unnecessary trouble.
'Special Interest' Vehicles
If you're a motor enthusiast, you might be worried about your collectible car and if it'll be allowed entry into New Zealand. Luckily, a special interest permit lets you import it.
Some conditions must be satisfied to be eligible. For one, you must be a New Zealand citizen or resident and have the vehicle registered under your name for personal use only. This stipulation means you can't use it for commercial purposes or sell it for a minimum of 4 years. You also can't have been granted a permit in the last two years.
Next, it must be a class MA passenger vehicle and:
- Be considered a collector's item by certain magazines
- Have had less than 20,000 units manufactured annually
- Be manufactured as a two-door coupe or convertible
- Be manufactured as a high-performance vehicle
Finally, it must comply with Land Transport Rules; you can't have any special interest vehicle and must have another one for everyday use.
You'd need to fill out an application for a special interest permit form (SIVVP) and pay the Transport Agency a $184 fee.
There are several restrictions, and the Transport Agency only issues 200 such permits annually, so ensure you're as early as possible.
What Happens Once Your Vehicle Reaches New Zealand?
The process is smooth and efficient if you have worked with an entry certifier to ensure your vehicle meets all standards. And if you've hired a reliable service, they'll deliver it right to your doorstep.
There are several costs involved when shipping a vehicle.
There are freight and insurance charges, port, transport, delivery charges, and taxes and duty.
On average, shipping to New Zealand costs between $3,500 and $7,000. There are two ways you can choose to ship your car: using a 20ft. container or RoRo shipping.
The first is the most reliable method, but RoRo shipping is comparatively cheaper and quicker because it doesn't involve transporting containers by car.
However, while you can leave certain things like a suitcase inside your car if you're using a container, it'll need to be empty for the latter method.
Border Inspections and Customs
Border inspections involve the MPI quarantine inspection and the entry certification. Once it has been decided that the vehicle complies with both, it will be forwarded to customs.
For one, New Zealand has no tariffs imposed on personal-use vehicles. However, if the vehicle is a motorhome or something with additional facilities, there is a 10% customs duty.
If the vehicle is worth over $1000, there's an import entry transaction fee (IETF) of around $29.26 and an entry-level biosecurity levy of $17.63.
The goods and services tax (GST) is 15% of the vehicle's landed value. However, if you are a returning citizen or have been granted residency, you can apply for an exemption. If accepted, it will waive the GST and duty if you have a motorhome.
To qualify, you must have owned the vehicle for at least a year before leaving for New Zealand. You can also import more than one vehicle if you meet the Concessionary Requirements.
How Much Does it Cost to Transfer a Car to New Zealand?
As mentioned, transporting a vehicle starts from around $3,500. These costs vary according to destinations and shipping methods, but many requirements remain the same.
First, there are port charges on both ends. There are also costs incurred for unloading your container and transporting it to a warehouse, though the former is inapplicable if you opt for RoRo shipping.
Next, there are also fees needed for the NZ Transport Agency inspection. If the vehicle does not pass the MPI inspection, there will be additional costs for the quarantine cleaning.
A Quick Overview of the Process
Now that you have all the details, we'll take a quick look at the process:
- First, you must contact an entry certifier. There, they will help you ensure your vehicle meets specific standards.
- Next, you will procure the proper documentation as evidence for meeting these standards.
- Your chosen company will help you transport your vehicle by ship, selecting a suitable port to lower costs.
- Once the car arrives in New Zealand, the Transport Agency will carry out an inspection.
- Following that, there will be an MPI inspection, after which the vehicle will go to customs.
- After release, your car will need to be registered and licensed. You will be provided a WoF and presented with your MR2A form to a registered agent.
- Once the application is accepted, you will be given a new registration plate and license label.
After this process is complete, you can legally drive your car in New Zealand.
If you are a tourist, you can also apply for a temporary import for a maximum of one year. For this, you'll need a Carnet de Passage, which acts as a passport for cars.
You can also go for customs import entry, where a bond is held by Customs to cover for any accidents or if the vehicle is lost. Customs will return it as long as the vehicle leaves the country on time.
Frequently Asked Questions
It depends mainly on the port and which cities are the starting points and destinations, but on average, it takes around 14-28 days, particularly if the ship sets out from Los Angeles.
A trip from San Jose to Auckland will mean the entire process will take around 22 days, while one from Houston can take up to 37 days.
The answer depends on availability. Many shipping services let you share a 40ft. container with another person. Although this means you'll pay a lower cost, it might be inconvenient if they can't find one with the same destinations.
On the other hand, if you're lucky enough to get someone with the same port, it'll ensure a faster delivery as 20ft. containers tend to be held up more.
In most cases, no. Left-hand vehicles must be converted into right-hand drive before legally driving in New Zealand.
There are certain exemptions for special interest and light vehicles over 20 years old, specialist vehicles, diplomat-operated vehicles, those exempt from registration and licensing of former crown vehicles, and motorcycles with sidecars.