How To Take Your Vehicle To New Zealand

If you are moving to New Zealand and taking up residence you may not have to pay tax on importing your vehicle, but there are certification and other requirements you will need to comply with.


Should I take my vehicle to New Zealand?

Before deciding to take a vehicle with you when moving to New Zealand you should be clear why you want to take it with you.  If it is a classic car with sentimental value the issues of cost may be secondary, but if you are taking it with a view to saving the cost of having to buy new, you should make sure that you take account of all of the costs.  This should include the cost of shipping the car and the tax and duties payable as well as potentially shipping it back at the end of your time abroad if you are not emigrating permanently.   You will also need to ensure that it will meet the standards for use on New Zealand roads.

Cars are driven on the left in New Zealand, which means left-hand drive cars face additional issues in getting approval for import and cannot be resold unless converted to right-hand drive.

You should also check that you will be able to obtain parts and tyres for the model of car you are taking as they not always be readily available locally


What tax and import duties are payable?

Motor vehicles and motorcycles are generally free from import tariffs, but subject to 15% Goods and Services Tax (GST).  The exceptions are ambulances and motorhomes which are subject to 10% duty on top of the 15% GST.

As a visitor to New Zealand you can take a vehicle for up to one year without paying duty or GST.  You can keep your domestic licence plates provided you are a citizen of the country where the car is registered.

Where you are moving to New Zealand and have authorisation for taking up residence in New Zealand and have owned and used the vehicle for at least 12 months there will be no GST or import duty payable.  If the vehicle is sold within two years of arrival, the GST and import duty will become payable.


What documentation is required?

All vehicles shipped to New Zealand must be checked, certified, registered and licenced before they can be used on New Zealand roads.  Although not a mandatory requirement it is generally worth using an Entry Certifier to deal with the complexities of the rules and regulations and to ascertain if your vehicle can be imported, what documentation will be required and what procedures will apply on arrival.  If you do decide to arrange importation of your vehicle independently it is important to refer to an entry certifier in the early stages for advice on the suitability of your vehicle to be imported into New Zealand as if your vehicle does not meet the standards on arrival it may be too late to do anything about it.

The certification process is to establish that a vehicle complies with relevant approved vehicle standards.  The applicable standards depend on the vehicle type and date of manufacture.  As well as documentation to prove that the vehicle originally met the standards an inspection is required to ensure that the vehicle has not been modified, the replaceable components comply with standards and that the vehicle is still within safe tolerance of the standards.

There are various vehicle standards dependent on the date of manufacture  published by the NZTA .

All used vehicles imported into New Zealand are subject to a quarantine inspection by the Ministry of Agriculture. If evidence of contamination by soil, plant material, or animal material is found, the vehicle will undergo a thorough cleaning, at the expense of the importer.


What happens on arrival of the vehicle in New Zealand?

The vehicle will be inspected by an Entry Certifier before it can be registered.  All used vehicles imported into New Zealand are also subject to a quarantine inspection by the Ministry of Agriculture. Any evidence of contamination by soil, plant material, or animal material will result in the vehicle having a thorough cleaning, at the expense of the importer.


Maintenance considerations
A Vehicle Inspection Certificate (VIC), also called a Warrant of Fitness (WOF), certifying that the vehicle’s condition allows for safe driving is required. These certificates must be updated every years but older cars must be inspected every six months. The certificates are issued by vehicle testing stations or at approved garages.


Other requirements
Annual registration of all motor vehicles is required and motor vehicles under three years old require a Warrant of Fitness annually and every six months for vehicles over three years old.  These are issued by a Vehicle Testing Station or an approved garage.


Useful Resources

Automobile Association
Tel: 0800 500 333 (from New Zealand)
Tel: +64 9 966 8800


New Zealand Transport Agency
Tel: 0800 108 809


Vehicle Inspection New Zealand (VINZ)
Tel: +64 9 580 3170


Vehicle Testing New Zealand (VTNZ)
Tel: +64 4 495 2500