Importing a vehicle to New Zealand – privately or via shipping company?

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to find out costs and procedures involved in shipping your car from Australia to New Zealand.

Posted on 18th March 2020


With one of the highest car ownership ratios in the world, imports to New Zealand continue to be steady in 2020 with an increased interest in hybrid and fully electric cars.  According to a recent TradeMe survey of 1300+ Kiwis, 74% are considering an EV as their next vehicle purchase.

Of course, the recent proposal by Government to reduce the price of imported electric and hybrid vehicles by up to $8000 (to make greener cars cheaper), is part of the reason New Zealand is importing more electric vehicles. 


NZ vehicle compliance regulations

Although vehicle compliance regulations are strict (and with good reason) you shouldn’t have any problems importing a vehicle if you have all the necessary documentation.  Here are some considerations:

Vehicle emissions: To be allowed in, your vehicle will have to be Euro 4 emission compliant unless you qualify for an exemption under the personal immigrant vehicle scheme or if your car is at least 20 years old. In doubt, a good vehicle freight-forwarder should be able to check whether your vehicle will indeed require it.

Frontal impact: The vehicle needs to pass a safety inspection to make sure that it complies.

Good all-round condition: Vehicles need to be generally safe to be allowed on the road. Ask about rust and other general repairs.

Paperwork: Customs will need to see the right paperwork at Customs ie: proof of purchase, various certificates of compliance, the original registration and a copy of the shipping bill of lading.


Should I import it privately?

New Zealanders have that DIY attitude running through their veins.  That’s a given.  But if you are looking to import a car and don’t have all the correct documentation or unsure of the total costs, it can turn into an expensive exercise.  

Make sure you’ve calculated all the costs that come with buying the car such as GST, insurance and entry certification. There are also different rules set out by the Transport Agency around compliance as the vehicle needs to meet current standards for New Zealand roads.

In a nutshell, be sensible and be informed.  Assess the risks, check the reviews, know what protection you have, make sure it complies with NZ standards, and so on.


How can we help with importation?

Entry can also depend on the country of export, especially in these uncertain times with the outbreak of Covid-19.   At cars2nz we have real-time information from New Zealand and international authorities about rule changes so if you want the process to be plain sailing, we recommend choosing an experienced shipping company when importing goods into New Zealand.

We can inform you of all MAF and Customs requirements and fees before you get your car shipped so all the ‘ducks are in a row’ and you won’t incur expensive fines and fees.


For further information on vehicle importing, contact us by phone +64 9 309 11 63 or get a free quote using the online form.

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