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Vehicles, boats and planes

If you're travelling to New Zealand, either for the first time or after having been overseas, and you're bringing your personally owned vehicle, boat or plane with you, please read the following information.


*The Customs Import Prohibition Order 2017 prohibits the importation of any motor vehicle with an odometer reading that does not correctly record the distance that the vehicle has been driven. The importation of any motor vehicle that lacks an odometer at the time of importation is similarly prohibited.

Bringing in vehicles, boats and planes

In order to ship your vehicles to NZ and claim the concession, you and your vehicles must meet the requirements outlined in the Tariff Concessions.

These are listed below.

  • You must have arrived in New Zealand
  • You must hold a document authorising residence in New Zealand on the date the vehicle arrives in New Zealand– this can be one of the following:
    • New Zealand or Australian Passport
    • Current New Zealand permanent resident, returning resident, or resident visa
    • Current permanent resident visa (including resident return visa) issued by the Commonwealth of Australia Government
    • Current work visa that is issued for a minimum of 12 months
    • Current work visa issued under the Work to Residence (Skilled Migrant Category) policy or the Long Term Business Visa/Permit category
    • Visitor visa that is issued for a minimum of three (3) years.

NOTE: Student visa holders do not qualify for this concession and will be required to pay Customs duty.

  • You must have resided or been domiciled outside of New Zealand for the WHOLE of the 21-month period preceding your arrival (except for brief holidays or business trips to New Zealand)
  • Your vehicle must have been personally owned* and used* for at least one year prior to your departure to NZ or the day your vehicle is surrendered for shipping whichever is earlier

*Personally owned means owned by an Individual

The term personally owned includes vehicles, boats and planes leased by the importer, and vehicles, boats and planes purchased under a hire purchase agreement, provided that in both instances the terms of the lease or the hire purchase agreement have been complied with in full (paid for in full) by the importer prior to their importation.

Because a registered company, trust, or partnership is a separate entity a vehicle, boat, or plane cannot be entered under the concession as the requirement to have personally owned the vehicle, boat, or plane cannot be met.

*Used means the vehicle has been available for use to the owner

Documentary evidence will need to be produced to support your claim of meeting this requirement. These documents may include:

  • receipts showing purchase and possession
  • registration papers
  • insurance papers
  • evidence when the vehicle, boat or plane was surrendered for shipping to NZ
  • maintenance records.

You can import more than one vehicle duty-free, as long as you meet the Concessionary Requirements for each of them.

You will be required to sign a written undertaking that you will not sell or dispose of the vehicle within two years of importation. If you sell your vehicle within two years of bringing it into NZ duty-free, you must pay duty.

These are some examples of vehicles Customs will consider for concessionary entry provided you meet the above requirements:

  • motorcycles
  • cars
  • scooters
  • motorhomes
  • camper vans
  • boats
  • aircraft (planes, helicopters etc).

If you ship your vehicle to NZ more than five years after your arrival into NZ the vehicle may be admitted under this concession only with the consent of a Customs officer, providing you qualified for concession when you first arrived.

Additional requirements for ships

You will have to give a written undertaking, that within two (2) years the ship will not be used in the following ways:

  • In a commercial capacity for hire, or
  • for the transport of cargo or the carriage of passengers for reward (payment).

If you don’t qualify for concessions

You will have to pay:

  • GST on motorcycles, cars and planes
  • GST and Customs duty of 5% on private boats (yachts and other vessels for pleasure or sport)
  • GST and Customs duty of 5% on motor vehicles for transporting more than 10 people or more, including the driver (as per tariff description)
  • GST and Customs duty of 10% on camper vans, ambulances and motor homes.

Customs clearance

In order for Customs to clear your vehicle you will need to follow the steps below

Step 1

The shipping company that has transported your vehicle/s should contact you when it arrives or is due to arrive in NZ.

This shipping company may complete your Customs clearance on your behalf or you can contact a Customs broker of your choice to manage the Customs clearance.

You can also obtain clearance through the Customs directly.

No matter who you choose to complete your clearance you will be required to provide the documents in Step 2.

Step 2

In order for a Customs clearance to be completed you will need to provide the following documents:

  • NZCS 218 Bringing Personal Household Items into NZ (You won’t need this form if a broker is completing the clearance for you provided the vehicle is the ONLY item you are importing)
  • Copy of your passport (photo ID)
  • Document authorising residence in NZ (only if you don’t hold an NZ or AU passport)
  • Invoice for the purchase of the vehicle (must be dated, see below for options if you don’t have this)
  • Proof no finance is owing on the vehicle
  • Copy of insurance documents
  • Copy of registration documents
  • Year, make, model, VIN/chassis number, odometer reading
  • Shipping document which states your vehicle have arrived in NZ
    • Bill of lading
    • Arrival notice
  • An invoice showing freight and insurance costs for shipping to NZ.

If you require Customs to prepare your clearance email the above documents to service.delivery@customs.govt.nz

NOTE: Customs will NOT prepare or complete a clearance without all documents being received by our clearance team.

Step 3

Customs will prepare your clearance provided the above documents have been emailed to us.

Customs may examine your shipment to verify any of the details you have provided, this may delay your clearance.

Customs will send you an email once clearance has been finalised advising you of the next step:

Amount payable:

You will receive an email from Customs with an invoice/statement attached. You will be required to pay this amount online prior to the release of your shipment. Visit the Paying Customs webpage for information on making a payment.

Once you have made payment, your shipping company will receive automatic notification from Customs that your vehicle/s can be released to you.

NOTE: If you need to pay GST on your vehicle, boat or plane, Customs will calculate the amount owing based on the sum of:

If you need to pay duty on your vehicle, boat or plane we will base the duty on the Customs valuation either based on the documents provided or an acceptable valuation. This is decided according to the provisions of Schedule 4 of the Customs and Excise Act 2018.

Or

Nothing to pay:

If there are no Customs charges you will receive an email from Customs confirming your shipment is cleared.

Contact your shipping company to arrange delivery of your vehicle/s.

Evidence of valuation provided

In most cases, Customs will base the customs value of your vehicle, boat or plane on what you paid for it overseas, minus:

  • any overseas duties or taxes you paid, for which you received a rebate or a refund when the vehicle, boat or plane landed in NZ (you’ll need to provide evidence for this)
  • If you have personally owned and used your vehicle for more than 90 days prior to its arrival in NZ we will apply depreciation. The depreciation rates used are aligned with the Inland Revenue rates, to a maximum rate of 75%.

The rates can be found on the Inland Revenue website using their Depreciation Rate Finder and searching on the terms “motor vehicle”, “yachts”, “motorhomes”, or similar.

No evidence of valuation provided

In cases you cannot provide evidence of valuation, we can consider alternative methods for example at the importers expense:

  • the market value of the vehicle, boat or plane in NZ, minus deductions or,
  • valuation from a reputable vehicle dealer or,
  • valuation of similar vehicles or,
  • if you built, restored, modified, or improved the vehicle, boat or plane so that its value is significantly different than when you bought it, Customs will require evidence of the value of the modifications

Quarantine inspection and cleaning

All used vehicles, boats and planes are subject to a quarantine inspection on arrival by a MPI inspector. If the item is found to contain contaminants such as soil, plant material or animal material, it will require cleaning sufficient to remove the contaminant. The importer is responsible for any charges for inspection and cleaning (if required).

Refer to the Ministry for Primary Industries website for more information.

NOTE: Do not pack personal or household effects in your vehicle prior to shipping as this will complicate the clearance process.

Certifying your vehicle for use on NZ roads

One we’ve cleared your motor vehicle, a NZ Transport Agency (NZTA) approved agent must certify it for use on NZ roads.

The NZTA website has details about the requirements for importing a vehicle and for Immigrants’ vehicles. There are also new CO2 emission requirements. Visit the Clean Car Programme page on the NZTA website for more information about the Clear Car Discount and Standard.

It is important that the importer makes enquires with NZTA prior to import if their motor vehicle will be able to be registered. If you pay GST and subsequently discover that the vehicle cannot be certified for NZ roads a GST refund may not be possible even if you export the vehicle.