Importing a Car into New Zealand

Look before you leap!

 

If you are thinking of importing a car to NZ, here are some things to be aware of:

        To be registered in New Zealand, the car will have to undergo a compliance check.  This check covers all the relevant regulations and the condition of the car.   Of particular relevance is that if a car has not been registered here before (regardless of age) there are different requirements from those which have been registered before but need registering simply because it was allowed to lapse.   The exact requirements can be found on the New Zealand Transport Agency, www.nzta.govt.nz but include at the least a high stop lamp.

The compliance checks on the condition of the car are the same as those for a warrant of fitness (or the UK’s MoT).    However (and this is the main point of this page!) the standard of the check is very much higher than the normal warrant of fitness or UK MoT check (both of which are of similar standard).   I suppose there is some logic to this, but it escapes me.

On my page Getting You Car Re-registered I have outlined some pointers about how to prepare your car for the compliance check.

       The main thing to check carefully before you ship a car to New Zealand is the condition of the body.   The checkers are ruthless about this, and at the first sniff of rust they will demand that any paint be removed from the offending area, usually by sandblasting, (typically this involves sandblasting the entire underneath of the car, or complete panels on the exterior), while previous repairs which they see will have an engineer’s certificate demanded of them.  Getting a certificate can end up being to get the repair re-done as engineers are extremely cautious about signing off something they can’t see the whole lot of.

In a nutshell, the only old repair you can be confident of passing is one which can’t be seen!   By this I mean that the complete panel was replaced rather than the offending bit removed and a patch welded in – no matter how well it was done.

Some owners have found, to their dismay, bills of several thousand dollars for the resulting repair work on what look to be very nice cars but which had old repairs the testers weren’t happy with.  There have even been odd instances in which people have scrapped the car and bought another one.

As a result of this, I recommend that if you are thinking of importing your car here then get it very carefully checked out for any rust or old repairs.   If you are moving to NZ and, like me, your car has been a part of the family for a long time and you would like to bring it with you regardless, then check out the options for repair here or before you ship the car.   One advantage of having it repaired here is that the repairer will work with the compliance people to get the work signed off as they go.

       If you have any doubts about aspects of your car’s bodywork, feel welcome to email me photos for comment as to likely treatment.  Such comment is offered on the basis that it is a free service and that no liability rests with me if I interpret the photographs incorrectly – I’ll do the best I can, but it will be a guide only.

Don’t be too put off – disasters are not in the majority!  Many cars go through the compliance check without significant issues.

If you do import a car and would like to share your experience for the benefit of others contemplating it, jot it down and email it to me and I will post it on this website.

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