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Importing Japanese Used Cars Into New Zealand


Most motor vehicles from Japan are allowed for importation and most cars are under the same guidelines. Exceptions are:

  • Kei-class vehicles made before 2000 cannot be imported.
  • Cars manufactured before 1990 can be imported with less restrictions.
  • In most cases, vehicles that are LHD must be converted to RHD.
  • A car may need modification to be approved. e.g. proper lights
  • Cars built after 1999 must have Fuel Consumption Data.

To import a vehicle into New Zealand, you must prove:

  • Ownership Entitlement.
  • Vehicle passes Safety and Emission Standards.

Attention! All information is focused on the MA (passenger car) class. For other classes and modified cars, additional and/or different rules may apply.

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Import Costs including: (varies car to car basis)

  • Quarantine Inspection
  • Border Check
  • Customs Clearance
  • VIN Issuance
  • Entry Certification
  • Registration
  • Licensing
  • Total Amount: around NZ$800 to NZ$1000

Not included above price: GST (Goods and Services Tax) which equals:
12.5% x value of vehicle (cost, freight, insurance, and any other importing fees) + repair costs + repair certification
Duty is not paid for motor vehicles.

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For Biosecurity Clearance:

  • Vehicle Information:
    • Vehicle Identification (i.e. chassis number)
    • Make and Model
    • Origin
  • Shipment Details
  • Consignor ID -and-
  • Consignee ID and Consignee's Address

For Customs Clearance:

  • Passport
  • Agriculture Clearance (Biosecurity Clearance)
  • Deregistration Certificate from Japan (original and certified English copy)
  • Invoices showing:
    • Export (FOB Japan) costs
    • Freight costs and marine insurance costs (if any) to NZ
  • Bill of Lading
  • Odometre readings:
    • At time of sale for export to NZ
    • At time of importation into NZ

For Entry Certification

  • For obtaining a VIN (if necessary):
    • Any document that has a number to verify the vehicle. (e.g. Chassis No.)
  • For proof of passing Front Impact Standards either:
    • Proof vehicle is listed on one of LTNZ's frontal impact lists as complying.
    • Proof vehicle was manufactured in Japan after 1 January 1996 (1 July 2000 for Kei Class) for the JDM.
    • Decertification/Export Certificate that includes a TDN. (Type Designation Number)
    • Statement of Compliance that includes that includes a frontal impact standard.
  • For proof of passing Safety Standards either:
    • Statement of Compliance with letter on manufacturer's letterhead.
    • Completion of Inspection (Shaken)
    • Certificate with TDN if previously unregistered.
    • Deregistration Certificate or Export Certificate if previously registered.
      • If the car was manufactured outside of Japan it will also need a TDN.
  • For proof of passing Emission Standards either:
    • Statement of Compliance that includes an approved emissions standard.
    • An Emissions Code and hyphen (-) before the Industrial Model Code found on one of the following:
      • Deregistration Certificate
      • Export Certificate -or-
      • Completion of Inspection (Shaken) Certificate

Note:There are new regulations concerning Emission Standards for imports starting January 2008. If you're using the emissions code as proof of compliance, the full code (Emissions Code + hyphen + IMC) must be recorded into the LANDATA system and on the vehicle check sheet. View the Acceptable Emission Code characters (external link) to make sure your vehicle is approved. To determine which regulation you fall under (Japan 98, 00/02, 02/04, or 05), look at Table 1 (for Used Petrol, CNG, LPG), Table 3 (for Used Diesel).

Also Note: Vehicles manufactured before 1990 are exempt from providing emission and fuel consumption documentation.

  • For proof of Fuel Consumption Data (if manufactured after 1999):
  • For proof of Ownership either:
    • Deregistration Certificate
    • Export Certificate
    • Completion of Inspection Certificate
    • If none of the above, "compelling evidence" proving you're legally entitled.
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Completing Delivery

To complete the delivery, you must have:

  • Biosecurity Clearance from MAF (Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry) composed of two parts:
    • Quarantine Inspection which must be passed.
    • Border Check which must check and record certain data.
  • Customs Clearance from the NZ Customs Agency

Biosecurity Clearance

Pre-shipment Inspection
Quarantine Inspections are possible in Japan. Addtionally, border checks are also sometimes available in Japan. If you plan on using a pre-shipment inspection, which is optional, it must be done within 10 days before leaving port.
Note: This is only an inspection, not clearance (which must be completed in NZ.)
Also Note: All inspected vehicles must be at least 3 metres away from non-inspected vehicles at all times.

  • Quarantine Inspection by MAF (Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry)
    • Checks for regulated organisms (from plant or animal origin) and contaminants (e.g. soil and water). If found, the vehicle must undergo a steam cleaning at a decontamination facility. Unless sealed from spreading, contaminated vehicles must be cleaned with 12 hours from arrival.
    • For pre-shipment inspected vehicles arriving in NZ, you must have a Phytosanitary Certificate from the inspector
    • Biosecurity Clearance is issued if the inspector is satisfied that:
      • The vehicle complies with import health standards.
      • There are no discrepancies in any of the documentation provided.
      • An audit has been carried out on the consignment of vehicles if many are shipped together.
      • No changes have occurred that make it unwise to issue clearance. -and-
      • The Border Check is completed with satisfaction. (read below for more information.)

Attention! Within a two month period, over 5,000 vehicles were rejected offshore because of contamination. Be sure to have the car thoroughly cleaned before exporting from Japan.

  • Border Check by Border Inspector
    • Checks and records:
      • Mileage
      • Vehicle's Identity
      • Vehicle's Structural Condition
        • Examines for any structural damage and/or deterioration (cosmetic damage is not recorded). If found, you must repair all deficiencies at a certified repairer. If repairs are not worth the costs, you might want to find another use for it. (e.g. for parts)
      • Vehicle's Steering Orientation (LHD or RHD) - LHD vehicles must be converted to RHD except in special cases.
  • MAF sends gathered information to Transport Registry Centre's "LANDATA" database which takes up to 72 hours.
  • MAF bills you for the cost of the Quarantine Inspection and Border Check.
    • You may also have to pay for a steam cleaning if your car is required by the MAF.

Customs Clearance

  • Customs Charges
    • Paid by anyone who are not eligible for concessionary entry (external link).
    • You must pay:
      • Duty (for motor homes/camper vans, vehicles for more than 9 persons, and ambulances only)
      • GST (Goods and Services Tax)
      • Import Transaction Fee

After clearing customs, the vehicle is released to you from the port for entry certification. Dealers with trade plates may, on a conditional permit (an 'Annex B'), drive a vehicle uncertified. Others must transport (not drive) the vehicle till entry certification, registration, and licensing are completed.

Entry Certification

Entry Certification is the key process in which:

  • VIN is Decoded or Issued.
  • It is established that the Car Passes Frontal Impact Standards.
  • It is established that the Car Passes Safety and Emission Standards.
  • If the car is produced after 1999, you need to provide Fuel Consumption Data.
  • Owner Entitlement is Established.
  • Vehicle is inspected and tested.

Also we will talk about organizations (called a TSDA) that are qualified to perform Entry Certification.

Decoding/ Issuing VIN

All car in New Zealand must have a vehicle identification number, or VIN, before it can be licensed and registered.

  • If the vehicle already has a VIN, it is decoded and recorded by the Entry Certifier.
    • It is the owner's responsibility to provide any information needed to decode a VIN, if necessary.
  • If there is no VIN:
    • Vehicle is verified by another identification number. (e.g. Chassis No.)
    • A VIN is issued and recorded.

VIN numbers are recorded on LANDATA so the vehicle can be tracked during the certification and registration processes. Once the decoding and issuing of a VIN, the vehicle must be verified that it passes frontal impact standards.

Frontal Impact Standards

New Zealand requires all vehicles less than 20 years old (based on date of first registration) to pass an acceptable frontal impact standard.

  • Cars produced after 1996 in Japan for the Japanese domestic market do not need to show proof.
  • Any Kei-class car produced before 2000 cannot pass frontal impact standards and thus cannot be imported.
  • For other vehicles, look in the "Required Documents" section above.

Without documentation that your vehicles passes frontal impact standards, you cannot import. When you do obtain proof, you will need to give it to the Certifier when asked.

Safety and Emissions Standards

Safety standards other than front impact standards and Emission standards must also be passed.

  • Cars produce before 1990 are exempt.
  • Others must show one of the documents list in the Required Documents for each requirement.
  • Read updated Emissons Standards that will come into full effect after January 31, 2008. (necessary info in "Required Documents" section above)
  • Additionally, with the new regulations, all imported vehicles imported must take metered emissions tests and visible smoke checks to protect NZ's air quality.

Fuel Consumption Data

Recording fuel consumption is a relatively new requirement which was made necessary for light vehicles entering New Zealand. A record of fuel consumption is found to be necessary for NZ to fulfill its Kyoto Protocol commitments.

  • Currently, only vehicle manufactured after 1999 are required to provide fuel consumption data.
    • You can obtain the data from LTNZ's Fuel Consumption Page (external link).
    • For vehicles not listed, you can find more assistance from LTNZ's Helpdesk (0800 699 000).

Owner Entitlement

In addition to your vehicle being proved qualified for importing, your ownership of the vehicle must be established.

  • You must have one of the three documents listed in "Required Documents".
  • If you do not have one of these, you will need "compelling evidence" that you are legally entitled to the car.

Entry Certification Inspection

The Entry Certifier must inspect the car for any of the following:

  • Structural Damage or Deterioration
  • Poor Repairs
  • Modifications

If there is found any damage, deterioration, or questionable repairs, you will be directed to a Repair Certifier. Once repairs are completed, you must pay for repairs and the Repair Certifier's fee. You'll be given a repair certificate. After, you return to the Entry Certifier to continue the certification process.

If any modifications have been made, you will be directed to a Low Volume Vehicle (LVV) Certifier. The LLV Certifier will determine whether you can import your vehicle. If it is suitable, your car will be issued a modification plate and returned to the Entry Certifier.

Completing Entry Certification

Once your vehicle is certified you will be given a Registration Application (Form MR2A). Since you receive an entry certification, a WoF or CoF inspection for the first registration is unnecessary.

This is the completion of Entry Certification. Below are the links to the available Entry Certifiers.

Contacting an Entry Certifier

Contact an Entry Certifier before importing. Currently, these four Transport Services Delivery Agents (TSDA) perform Entry Certification: (external links)

Not every port has entry certifiers. You can either:

  • Ship your vehicle to a port that has one.
  • Transport (or drive with trade plates) the vehicle to one.

Registration and Licensing

Importing is now completed. The remaining tasks involve taking your MR2A Form (Registration Application) to a Land Transport NZ agent for registration and licensing. The rest of the process is the same as car that has been in NZ already.

Note: Vehicle not registered with 2 years of certification will need to be reinspected or recertified.

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Government Agencies

MAF Biosecurity Agency
Customs' Motor Vehicle Page
Land Transport's Importing Homepage
   Land Transport's Importing Page for JDM Vehicles
   LTNZ's Emission Rule Requirement
   LTNZ's Frontal Impact List
   LTNZ's Fuel Consumption Page

Entry Certifiers/Transport Delivery Services Agencies (TDSA)

Automobile Association (AA)
On Road New Zealand
Vehicle Inspection New Zealand (VINZ)
Vehicle Testing New Zealand (VTNZ)

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