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Vehicles, boats and planes

If you're an immigrant, or are returning to New Zealand after 21 months or more overseas, you may be entitled to concessions on vehicles, boats and planes that either accompany you or are freighted separately.


Bringing in vehicles, boats and planes

You can claim a “household items” concession if:

  • you’re moving to NZ, or moving back after 21 months or more away, and
  • you’ve used the items for their intended purpose.

This means you won’t have to pay GST and duties on some items.

You can also claim concessions on:

  • private vehicles, including:
    • motorcycles
    • cars
    • scooters
    • motorhomes
    • camper vans
    • ambulances
    • boats and
    • aircraft.

You can import more than one vehicle, boat or plane duty-free, as long as you meet the Concessionary Requirements (PDF 102 KB) for each of them.

As a condition of the concession you will be required to sign an Undertaking that you will not sell or dispose of the vehicle, boat or plane within two years.

If you sell your vehicle, boat or plane within two years of bringing it into NZ duty-free, you must pay Customs duty and GST on a pro rata basis.

Rules on ownership and use

To qualify for a concession you will have to meet a requirement to have personally owned and used the vehicle, boat or plane for at least 1 year before your departure for New Zealand, or surrendering the vehicle for shipping.

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 by the importer prior to their importation.

Vehicles, boats and planes owned and registered by a company cannot be entered under the concession as the requirement to have personally owned the vehicle, boat or plane cannot be met, as a company is a separate entity.

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

  • receipts showing purchase and delivery dates
  • registration and insurance papers
  • evidence when the vehicle, boat or plane was surrendered for shipping to New Zealand.

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.

Clearing your vehicle, boat or plane

To get a delivery order, which allows you to take possession of your vehicle, boat or plane, you must arrange:

Shipping companies will usually give you arrival papers when you import your vehicle, boat or plane.

Some freight forwarders will also help you with Customs processes.

Ministry of Primary Industries will also check your vehicle, boat or plane when it arrives to look for contamination.

Customs clearance

Customs will assist you (provided you are a private importer) to complete a Customs clearance for your vehicle, boat or plane. To assist this process you must provide:

  • the BACC
  • your passport (or a high-quality copy of it, if you’re emailing us)
  • an invoice or receipt showing what you paid, and when you bought it
  • registration/ownership details
  • an invoice showing freight and insurance costs for shipping to NZ and
  • the bill of lading or arrival notice.

Vehicles

If you’re bringing in a vehicle, boat or plane, you must provide:

  • registration papers or,
  • certificate of permanent export (UK)
  • certificate of title (USA)
  • de-registration certificate (Japan)
  • an invoice showing your export costs (Japan)
  • the odometer reading when the vehicle was sold for export to NZ
  • the odometer reading when the vehicle arrived in NZ
  • a "carnet de passage en douane" (CPD), also called a "carnet" (tourist vehicles only).

Valuing your vehicle, boat or plane

If you need to pay GST on your vehicle, boat or plane, we will calculate the amount 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 only. This is decided according to the provisions of Schedule 4 of the Customs and Excise Act 2018.

Normal valuation

In normal cases, we’ll base the Customs value of your vehicle, boat or plane on what you paid/will pay 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)
  • an allowance for depreciation if the vehicle, boat or plane has been personally owned and used by the importer not less than 90 days prior to its arrival in NZ. The depreciation rates used are aligned with the Inland Revenue rates , to a maximum rate of 75%, and resulting in a minimum Customs value of $100. 

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.

Alternative valuation

If you don’t give us the correct information, we may use a different method. This includes cases where you:

  • bought the vehicle, boat or plane overseas for an unrealistically low price
  • were given the vehicle, boat or plane as a gift or prize
  • built the vehicle, boat or plane overseas
  • you restored, modified or improved the vehicle, boat or plane so that its value is significantly different than when you bought it.

In cases like this, we’ll base our valuation on:

  • the market value of the vehicle, boat or plane in NZ, minus deductions for things like:
  • overseas freight and insurance
  • duty (where applicable) calculated on its market value in NZ
  • GST (where applicable) calculated on its market value in NZ
  • normal mark-ups used in the industry.

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.

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 importer is responsible for supplying evidence of a vehicle’s compliance with New Zealand legal requirements, in particular compliance of the vehicle with relevant approved standards.

What you need to do, and the documents you must supply, differs depending on where the motor vehicle is coming from. The NZTA website has details about the requirements for importing a vehicle and for Immigrants’ vehicles (Fact Sheet 44a).

Vehicle odometer

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.

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

However, if the dealer arranges for the vehicle to be shipped to NZ, the value for duty is the price of the vehicle on board the vessel at the port of export (including any costs charged by and payable to the dealer, less depreciation, if eligible).

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 NZ.

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.

Importing a vehicle from the UK

It is relatively easy to purchase a new vehicle tax free in the UK and the invoiced price forms the value for duty. However, if the sale includes the cost of shipping to NZ, value for duty is the cost of the vehicle on board the vessel at the port of export (plus any agent charges).

Vehicles sold on tourist delivery schemes

NZ residents travelling overseas to Europe or the UK are sometimes able to place an order with the NZ vehicle distributor for the brand concerned and take delivery of the new car ‘tax free’ upon arrival at their destination. These vehicles are sold under what is known as the ‘tourist delivery vehicle’ scheme.

Some NZ distributors will be prepared to import your vehicle for you when you wish to return to this country.

Depreciation may be granted for the period of personal ownership/use, but this period will only commence at the time physical delivery of the vehicle is taken, not from the time at which the order or payment is made. In other words, depreciation is not given for a vehicle under construction.

Where the distributor does not offer to clear your vehicle through Customs, the invoice you received forms the basis of the calculation to determine the value for duty.