Motor vehicles, boats & aircraft

If you are an immigrant, or are returning to New Zealand after 21 months or more overseas, you are entitled to concessions on private motor vehicles, boats and aircraft that either accompany you or are sent separately. It is possible to import more than one motor vehicle, motorcycle, motor scooter, boat, or aircraft, duty free, if you are able to meet all the concessionary requirements for each vehicle, boat or aircraft. 

To show that all conditions have been met you will require full documentary evidence.

If you do not qualify for concessionary entry, private motor vehicles and aircraft will attract GST only, but boats, camper vans and motor homes will attract tariff duties as well as GST when they are brought in.

Sale or disposal

You will be required to give a written undertaking that, if a vehicle, boat, or aircraft granted duty-free entry is sold or otherwise disposed of within two years of the date of importation, you will pay the Customs duty that would normally have been payable.

See also: Customs charges, duties & allowancesCustoms valueDepreciation rates for motor vehicles, Valuation of privately imported motor vehiclesAdvice on private motor vehicle imports.

This description was last updated on: Monday, 05 March 2012

Detailed information related to Motor vehicles, boats & aircraft

Shipping companies and removal companies will usually provide arrival papers when your vehicle, boat or aircraft is imported. Some freight forwarders will also assist you with Customs formalities. They may charge a fee for this.  

To obtain a delivery order for your vehicle, boat or aircraft, you need to: 

  • Arrange a Biosecurity Authority Clearance Certificate (BACC) through Biosecurity NZ
  • Arrange for a Customs clearance.

To obtain a Customs clearance for your vehicle, boat or aircraft you need to present the following documentation:  

  • The BACC.
  • Your passport.
  • Invoice or receipt showing total price paid and date of purchase.
  • Registration and/or ownership details.
  • Invoice showing freight costs and insurance for shipment to New Zealand.
  • Bill of lading or arrival notice.

And additionally, for motor vehicles only: 

  • Registration papers or Certificate of Permanent Export (UK), Certificate of Title (USA), or De-registration Certificate (Japan).
  • Invoice showing export costs (Japan).
  • Odometer reading at time of sale for export to New Zealand.
  • Odometer reading at time of importation into New Zealand.
  • Carnet de passage en douane (tourist vehicles only).

This detail was last updated on Friday, 13 May 2011

If you are an immigrant, or are returning to New Zealand after 21 months or more overseas, you are entitled to concessions on boats and aircraft that either accompany you or are sent separately.

It is important to note that concessions for boats depend on the size of the craft. For a more detailed explanation of the concessions and their associated qualifications please see Part II of the Working Tariff Document of New Zealand

It is possible to import more than one boat or aircraft duty free, if you are able to meet all the concessionary requirements for each craft. 

Full Customs charges will be payable if you cannot show that all conditions have been met. In order to prove they have, you will require full documentary evidence. 

Sale or disposal

You will be  required to give a written undertaking that if your boat or aircraft, which has been granted duty-free entry, is sold or otherwise disposed of within two years of the date of importation, you will pay the Customs duty that would normally have been payable.

This detail was last updated on Wednesday, 18 May 2011

After Customs clearance, the vehicle must be certified for use on New Zealand roads. All new or used motor vehicles, including motorcycles, imported into New Zealand must be certified by a NZ Transport Agency (NZTA) approved agent.

The NZ Transport Agency has issued a number of fact sheets relating to the importation of vehicles into New Zealand which may be found on their website at NZTA Resources. The fact sheets deal with information such as:

  • Importing motor vehicles.
  • Importing left-hand drive vehicles.
  • Importing immigrants' vehicles.
  • Importing vehicles temporarily.
  • Importing special interest vehicles.

Step 2 of the NZTA link above will take you to information such as:

  • Importing vehicles from Japan.
  • Importing vehicles from Australia.
  • Importing vehicles from the United States.
  • Importing vehicles from Europe.
  • Importing vehicles from other than Japan, Australia the USA or Europe.

In addition Customs Fact Sheet 29 also provides full information regarding the importation of private motor vehicles. 

This detail was last updated on Wednesday, 26 June 2013

Importing a vehicle from Australia

When purchasing a vehicle in Australia, it is standard practice to pay the dealer for accessories, registration, delivery and other associated costs – in addition to the purchase price.  

If the importer arranges independently for the vehicle to be shipped to New Zealand, the value for duty will be confined to those costs paid directly to the dealer.  

If the dealer arranges for the vehicle to be shipped to New Zealand, the value for duty is the price of the vehicle on board the vessel at the port of export (less depreciation, if eligible). 

See also NZTA website used vehicles from Australia.

Importing a vehicle from Japan

When buying a vehicle in Japan, it is common practice to employ an agent who has access to vehicle dealers and auctioneers. As well as assisting in the purchase of the vehicle, the agent is often used to prepare the appropriate documentation and arrange for the vehicle to be shipped to New Zealand. The charges for these services are considered to be associated with the purchase cost of the vehicle, and are included in the value for duty and GST. 

Some Japanese agents charge excessive amounts for freight and insurance, so it is wise to explore the most competitive rates for shipping a vehicle before leaving New Zealand for Japan. In most cases, agents’ fees and commissions are dutiable. In cases where an importer arranges to buy a vehicle in Japan on a "CIF New Zealand port basis", Customs will only allow for the deduction of the actual cost of international freight and insurance, not the inflated figures shown on some invoices.

See also NZTA website used vehicles from Japan.

Importing a vehicle from the United Kingdom

It is relatively easy to purchase a new vehicle tax free in the United Kingdom and the invoiced price forms the value for duty. However, if the sale includes the cost of shipping to New Zealand, value for duty is the cost of the vehicle on board the vessel at the port of export. 

See also NZTA website used vehicles from Europe.

Left hand drive vehicles

There are restrictions on the use of left-hand drive motor vehicles in New Zealand. Contact the NZ Transport Agency for more information.

See also fact sheets 12 and 12A at resources on the NZTA website.

This detail was last updated on Wednesday, 26 June 2013

​If you are a tourist you may import a motor vehicle into New Zealand without payment of Customs charges, provided your intention is to take the vehicle out of New Zealand at the conclusion of your visit.

To facilitate duty-free entry, it is recommended that you have in your possession a carnet de passage en douane (CPD) issued by AIT/FIA affiliated member clubs (such as the Automobile Association). If you do not have a CPD, you will be required to put up a cash deposit to cover the full Customs charges. The deposit will be refunded providing the vehicle and attachments are exported within the stipulated period of temporary entry. 

Temporary entry is normally granted for a maximum of 12 months. In exceptional circumstances, Customs may allow a once-only extension, provided a request for such an extension is made prior to the original expiry date. If the importer holds CPD documentation, it is necessary to secure extension approval from the issuing office in the country of origin. Again, this should be completed with the issuing office at least one month prior to the expiry of the original temporary entry.

This detail was last updated on Wednesday, 18 May 2011

Some New Zealanders travelling overseas to Europe or the United Kingdom may wish to buy a car while over there and bring it back with them. If this applies to you, it might be advantageous for you to consider placing an order for the vehicle you want with its New Zealand distributor first. The distributor can then arrange for the vehicle to be ready for you when you arrive at your destination.

Later when you return to New Zealand – if the distributor is prepared to import the vehicle on your behalf – you may be able to take advantage of a lower rate of import duty than if you had brought it in yourself.

This is because the Customs value for duty is based, among other things, on the invoice price. The dealer's invoice, which excludes the dealer's commission, would be the invoice used as the basis for valuation. Therefore you would be likely to benefit by owing less duty. 

Depreciation will also be granted based on the period of your personal ownership/use of the vehicle. However, this period will only commence from the moment you physically took possession of the vehicle, not from the time the order or payment was made. Depreciation is not given for a vehicle under construction.

If the distributor does not offer to clear your vehicle through Customs, the invoice you produce will form the basis of the calculation for determining the value for duty.

For more information see Fact Sheet 29 Advice on Private Motor Vehicle Imports.

This detail was last updated on Tuesday, 17 May 2011

Insurance

Enquiries concerning shipping and marine insurance charges for imported motor vehicles, boats and aircraft should be made directly with the shipping companies trading with New Zealand.

Insurance cover can be arranged after the owner’s arrival. New Zealand insurance companies provide the usual type of cover for damage by accident, fire, loss, theft, and so on. No-claims bonus schemes are also operated, so owners should bring documentary evidence of the motor vehicle's or craft's ownership and insurance history.

Personal belongings in imported vehicles, boats or aircraft 

For the following reasons it is recommended that you do not pack personal belongings in any private vehicle, boat or aircraft that is being shipped to New Zealand. 

  • If your vehicle or craft is not containerised, items are very susceptible to pilferage and theft while it is on the wharf awaiting shipment or collection, or on the vessel carrying it to New Zealand.
  • Many shippers or carriers will not accept your vehicle or craft for shipment to New Zealand if it is packed with personal belongings.  
  • The shipper or carrier is required to present a complete list of what is being transported, including the contents of your vehicle or craft, to the New Zealand Customs Service. 
  • The complete contents of your import must be declared at the time it is presented to the New Zealand Customs Service for entry into New Zealand. If this is not done, you may be subject to a fine and your vehicle or and its contents may be seized.

Quarantine inspection and cleaning

All used vehicles – including boats, aircraft and other equipment – are subject on arrival to quarantine inspection by an inspector of the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry/Biosecurity NZ. If the vehicle is found to be contaminated with soil, plant material or animal material, it will need to be cleaned. The importer is responsible for inspection and cleaning charges.   

This detail was last updated on Monday, 05 March 2012

Related events

There are currently no events listed in this category...

View all events

Related notices & updates

There are currently no notices or updates listed in this category...

View all notices & updates

Related news stories

There are currently no news stories listed in this category...

View all news stories