Here are some frequently asked questions about the importation of vehicles.
Yes. A private person can import a car. It is the importer’s responsibility to provide documents to prove that they are legally entitled to the car and to which standards the car was built to.
Basically from anywhere, as long as the required standards can be met and acceptable documentation can be provided. As a generalisation, vehicles sold new in one of the recognised markets that New Zealand new vehicles are sourced from are more likely to meet the required standards.
Vehicles sold new in some markets, particularly some Asian and African countries, may not be built to the standards the New Zealand authorities require.
All documents must be originals (non-copied) and must be in English or be certified translated into English.
The source market standards are:
- Federal Motor Vehicle Standards (USA)
- Australian Design Rules (ADR)
- European standards (EEC, ECE)
- Japanese standards (JIS)
The various standards a vehicle has to meet depend on the class of the vehicle and when it was manufactured.
There must be acceptable evidence that systems and components such as, brakes, tyres, lights, seats, seat mountings, seatbelts, seatbelt mountings, glazing, rear vision, interior impact, external projections, door retention, frontal impact, exhaust emissions etc are manufactured to precisely defined standards.
No, as long as it meets the required standards. However, it is very unlikely a vehicle built prior to 2005 will meet the current standards, but it can’t be assumed that later vehicles will comply. Every vehicle needs to be treated on its own merit according to the standards it was built to, not the year it was manufactured.
Yes. Vehicles belonging to New Zealanders returning home from overseas or first time immigrants may be exempt from meeting frontal impact,emissions and Electronic Stability Control (ESC) if they meet certain criteria. The main requirement is that the vehicle has been owned and operated for more than 12 months overseas and in the case of New Zealanders overseas, they must have been overseas for more than 21 months. Refer to: Vehicle Imports - Immigrant Exemption.
Also, motoring enthusiasts may be able to import a non-compliant vehicle under certain circumstances if it meets the criteria to be treated as a Special Interest Vehicle.
Yes, cars that are over 20 years old are treated as classic cars and are exempt from meeting many of the standards.
There are far less requirements for cars built prior to 1990. These vehicles must still be structurally sound, meet New Zealand safety requirements and are required to have an Entry Compliance Inspection similar to newer cars, but are not required to be built to the same recognised standards as newer cars, therefore documented proof of standards compliance may not be required.
Under some limited circumstances LHD vehicles can be imported, however there are strict guidelines including meeting the classic/vintage car criteria, being a specialist vehicle that was never built as RHD etc. You can also refer to NZTA Factsheet 12.
Fill out an import enquiry form and we can help you
1. Identify the class of vehicle.
2. Identify which standards your vehicle must meet.
3. Identify the requirements needed from the country you are importing from.
4. Obtain the required documentation (must be originals, not copies, faxes or electronic versions).
- Legal entitlement (receipt, bill of sale, auction receipt)
- Proof of registration (registration or de-registration papers, export certificate, certificate of title/origin)
- Ownership trail which goes as far back as the last registered owner overseas.
5. Prepare to import (make sure the vehicle arrives clean as it needs to pass a bio-security and a structural inspection before it is released by NZ Customs).
6. Contact an AA Entry Compliance Centre.