20-Year Import Rule: Can You Import Old Cars to NZ?

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Posted on 15th June 2023

20-Year Import Rule: Can You Import Old Cars to NZ?

When planning to import cars to NZ, you must ensure that your car complies with rules and regulations and meets the approved standards before driving them on New Zealand roads. One crucial aspect to consider is the 20-year import rule. But what exactly is it, and how does car age affect vehicle shipping? This blog post will explore the 20-year import rule and determine the age limit for importing older cars to New Zealand.


What is the 20-year import rule?

The 20-year import rule refers to the regulation that allows imported cars into New Zealand once they have reached a specific age milestone. According to the New Zealand Transport Agency (NZTA), vehicles must be at least 20 years old from the date of their first registration to qualify for importation under this rule. It's important to note that even though vehicles may meet the age requirement, they must still comply with general safety requirements outlined in the Land Transport Rules.


Why does this rule matter?

One of the primary reasons for the 20-year import rule is to ensure that imported vehicles meet the safety and emissions standards of New Zealand. The NZTA requires all vehicles, including imported ones, to undergo an entry certification process. This rule ensures that only relatively newer vehicles meet the safety and emissions standards of the New Zealand Transport Agency (NZTA).


Entry certifiers verify that the vehicle meets the required safety and emissions standards at the time of its manufacture. They inspect the condition, assess the need for repairs or specialist certification, and issue the necessary compliance certificates. Here are a few considerations related to car age and shipping them to New Zealand:


Inspection Intensity

Older vehicles often require more thorough inspections to meet safety and compliance standards. These inspections assess the structural integrity, emissions, and overall vehicle safety.


Spare Parts Availability

The availability of spare parts can be a concern for older vehicles. It is crucial to consider whether replacement parts for the imported vehicle will be easily obtainable in New Zealand.


Maintenance and Repair Options

Older vehicles may require more frequent maintenance and repairs. Vehicle owners should consider the availability of mechanics and repair services experienced in working with older models before importing them.


What is the oldest car you can import?

Under the 20-year import rule, the oldest car you can import to New Zealand would be one that is at least 20 years old from the date of its first registration. If a vehicle meets the age requirement and complies with the necessary standards, you can import it into the country.

green styled Volkswagen classic car parked outside of residential home despite 20-year import rule.

Can you still import older cars or classic cars?

Car age may have implications on the shipping process. While the 20-year import rule is in place, it is still possible to import classic cars if they meet a range of approved standards. The requirements vary depending on the country you're importing the vehicle from. These requirements include proof of ownership, compliance with emissions standards, frontal impact standards, fuel consumption, and overall vehicle standards.


The good news is classic cars can fall under special interest vehicles. In New Zealand, a special interest vehicle is considered non-compliant with standard requirements but can still be imported and registered under specific conditions.


There are certain conditions to qualify as a special interest vehicle in New Zealand. These include:

  1. Ownership and Registration: The applicant must be a New Zealand citizen or resident and register the vehicle in their name.
  2. Vehicle Category: The vehicle must belong to class MA (passenger vehicle) or meet the requirements specified for class LC, LD, or LE vehicles.
  3. Personal Use: The vehicle should be intended for personal purposes and not operated on the road for commercial purposes or hire.
  4. Sales Restriction: The vehicle cannot be sold or leased to a third party within four years of its first registration in New Zealand.
  5. Qualifying Criteria: The applicant must meet at least three of the following criteria to demonstrate that the vehicle is a collector's item and of special interest:
    • Historical value
    • Make, model, and sub-model of the vehicle
    • Unique design features
    • Rarity or limited production numbers
    • Association with significant events or people


How do I import a special interest vehicle to New Zealand?

To import and register a special interest vehicle, you must apply for a special interest vehicle permit and meet the NZTA requirements. Some of the conditions you need to fulfil include:


  • Ownership and registration: The vehicle owner must be a New Zealand citizen or resident and register the vehicle in their name.
  • Personal use: The vehicle should be for personal purposes only.
  • Sales restriction: The vehicle cannot be sold or leased to a third party within four years of its first registration in New Zealand.
  • Inspection and certification: The vehicle must undergo inspection at the border and be certified for entry within six months of issuing the special interest vehicle permit.


Ship your cars to NZ with Cars2NZ!

Importing a vehicle to New Zealand involves understanding the country's 20-year import rule and its implications. Fortunately, it doesn't have to be all too complicated. By adhering to the age restrictions and complying with safety and emissions standards, you can successfully import your cars most seamlessly and smoothly as possible.


At Cars2NZ, we can assure you of a safe and seamless car shipping process without delays. We have 20 years of experience in car and vehicle shipments, providing a personalised service that guarantees the ideal solution that best addresses your car shipping needs. We provide a hassle-free service from start to finish. Ship your car to NZ with us; get your vehicle transport quote today!


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