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How To Ship A Car To New Zealand

Published by Joe Webster.

How To Ship A Car To New Zealand

Shipping a car isn’t the most straightforward thing to do. And when you need to have it shipped to New Zealand, it’s an even bigger burden. Still, do not forget that cars and other vehicles tend to be far more pricey in New Zealand, particularly if they’re luxury cars and European models. In general, if your car is worth 10,000 USD or more, it’s absolutely worthwhile going through the entire shipping process to transport a vehicle to New Zealand. So here are the steps you must follow in order to do it right.


Check the Car’s Eligibility

Check the Car’s Eligibility

Before you plan to ship your car to New Zealand, it’s important first to check that your vehicle is eligible for importation under the standards set by the New Zealand Transport Agency. Some of the factors you should take into account include:

• Whether you are a returning NZ citizen or immigrating to the country

• The age of your vehicle (fewer costs and documents if your car is over 20 years old)

• Which side of the car the driver’s seat is (note that people drive left-hand vehicles in New Zealand, just like in the UK)

• Whether you wish to register your vehicle for road use in the country (your car needs to complete entry certification before you have it registered)


Decide Shipping Method

Decide Shipping Method

One decision you should make early on in the shipping process relates to how exposed you want your car to be while it’s being transported. There are three methods to choose from:

• Roll-On/Roll-Off – This is the least costly method, given that your car gets loaded into the holding area of a large vessel, which is basically like a big parking garage.

• Shared Container – The most commonly used method has multiple cars placed together for shipping in one single container. Even though there are more fees involved than with “roll-on/roll-off” (such as charges for unloading and customs clearance), these fees are shared between several customers and not just you.

• Full Container – This is almost the same as the “shared container” method, it’s only your vehicle occupying the whole container, and all extra charges are borne by you alone. That said, there is added security in a full container load, which means the customer can opt to store other valuables inside the car for shipment (provided these are packed carefully).


Calculate Cost

Regarding the total shipping cost, keep in mind that it covers many things, including insurance charges, storage, transport, duties and taxes. However, what most significantly impacts the amount are factors such as where your car is currently located, the make and model of your vehicle, as well as the destination port in New Zealand. Don’t forget that your choice of shipping method also affects it. But you will get a better idea of the exact amount when you visit the website of your chosen company and use their Quote Calculator.


Contact Shipping Company Representative

Contact Shipping Company Representative

While there are reputable shipping companies you’re likely considering, it’s always best to reach out to them so you can get more reassurance of their competence and credibility. They should be able to provide clear answers to questions of common concern, especially from those who ship with them for the first time. Speak over the phone or send an email to a customer rep of your chosen company and ask questions like the following:

  • “Can shipment arrivals be guaranteed within a specific number of weeks/days?”
  • “Where are the cars stored overnight before they are shipped off?”
  • “What insurance can I avail of to cover for theft and damages during shipment?”


Set Up Shipment

When you’re confident with the abilities of your chosen company and ready to ship your car, you can book through the phone or the online booking system on the company website. Ensure all important numbers and information are ready to be filled out, including your driver’s license and car registration. With the booking confirmed, the shipping company will mention that they’ll contact you with a suitable available slot for shipment. Companies normally give about a full week’s notice before the day your car can be taken for shipping. But you might also try arranging a specific date for pick-up if shipping schedules aren’t flexible for you, provided you’ll be okay with an additional charge.


Gather Documentation

Documentation is key to a smooth car shipping experience. Note that all used vehicles that enter New Zealand for the first time have to undergo a thorough border check and inspection by Customs and an Entry Certification before people can use them on the roads. As for the Entry Certification process involves an assessment of whether your car met the required standards for safety and emissions while manufactured, whether it needs certain repairs or specialist certification, and whether it meets biosecurity requirements that won’t lead to the introduction of diseases and pests. Therefore, ensure you fill out and have multiple copies of these documents:

  • Proof of Ownership
  • Frontal Impact Standards
  • Fuel Consumption Certificate
  • Emissions Standards
  • Evidence of Overall Standards Compliance


Prepare For Shipping

Prepare For Shipping

Having your car prepared in the ideal condition will be very helpful in minimizing the chance of any issues or accidents occurring as the vehicle is carefully transported. On your end, it’ll also make it easier to spot damages post-shipment and prove that you’re making a valid claim.

  • Leave the gas tank only 1/8th-1/4th full to lessen the total weight.
  • Wash your car meticulously with soap, water, and a few clean rags.
  • Ensure none of your small personal items are lying in the car seats or pockets, as insurance may not cover any losses of these.
  • Shut off the car alarm completely or disable it temporarily, so it doesn’t cause problems during shipment.


Release Car to Shipping Company

Release Car to Shipping Company

In general, try to have your car ready about five minutes before the actual scheduled time for turning it over. If you’re traveling to a location, allow some leeway for slow traffic when you start driving. If the company will pick it up, ensure it’s ready and located in the exact street as mentioned in the details for pick-up.

Upon arrival, the driver will ask you to review and sign documents, including (1) the shipping invoice, (2) forms that list all payments received plus the outstanding balance, and (3) a certificate of origin showing the country that your vehicle is coming from.

 When all of that has been settled, leave your car keys with the driver. Take a couple of photos of your car right before it gets taken away. This will come in handy for comparing the conditions of your vehicle before and after the actual shipping stage.


Collect Car at Destination

Collect Car at Destination

In New Zealand, your vehicle will undergo structural inspection by a NZ Transport Agency staff member. Provided all goes well, a pink Transport Agency sticker will be applied to the wiper arm of the driver’s side windscreen. When both that sticker and the MPI biosecurity inspection sticker are affixed to the car, that’s when it’s ready to be released.

When you finally get to receive your car at the end destination (which the shipping company will give you enough notice beforehand), be ready to sign the necessary papers confirming payments are all finalized and you have now collected your vehicle.


Check For Damages

Bear in mind that cars are prone to damages while they’re being shipped due to elements such as gravel or debris from a hail storm. Therefore, it helps to have photos taken of anything noticeable that wasn’t there prior to shipment, which can be validated by pictures of your car on the day it was turned over. 

 For any damage you file a claim for, call the shipper’s insurance company. Provide them with details on the new damages of your car, and mention the date and time you had it dropped off. Chances are you’ll be asked for a written record of all scratches and damages that predated the shipment, plus pictures of how your car looks right now. Be sure to email these to help speed up the process of filing your claim.

​​Congratulations – your car has successfully been carried halfway around the world and is ready for new adventures on foreign soil.

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Joe Webster always knew the auto transport industry would be a great career option. And with decades of experience, Joe is now an established consultant for A1 Auto Transport.

Joe was born in Santa Cruz, California. During high school, Joe worked as a mechanic; a job continued to work part-time during his bachelor's degree.

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A-1 Auto Transport is a disclosed agent for the following shipping companies:

CSI Logistics
435 Division Street
Elizabeth, NJ 07201
FMC 22206
Intl Cargo
45 Campus Drive
Edison, NJ 08837
NO. 17858N
Trans Global Auto Logistics, Inc.
3401 E Randol Mill Rd,
Arlington, TX 76011
NO. 018191NF
CFR Rinkens
15501 Texaco Avenue
Paramount, CA 90723
NO. 013055NF
ABC Worldwide LLC
2840 NW 2nd Ave #105
Boca Raton, FL 33431
NO. 025472F
ShipYourCarNow LLC
1160 South Rogers Circle Suite 1
Boca Raton, FL 33487
NO. 025646
Merco Air & Ocean Cargo, Inc.
6 Fir Way
Cooper City, FL 33026
NO. 021869F
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