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Costs to consider when you import a car to New Zealand

Posted on September 23, 2021

Costs to consider when you import a car to New Zealand

The costs are different for various types of vehicles and shipping scenarios. So, what will shipping your vehicle to New Zealand cost you?

The costs of shipping a vehicle to New Zealand include:

The shipping method

Roll-On Roll-Off is generally the cheaper freight method for vehicles over container shipping. You can read a comparison of the two methods here. Both have cost factors of their own to consider, and the freight charges contribute to the overall price of importing a car to New Zealand.

Insurance charges

It is important to ensure your vehicle is covered for damage or loss when in transit. If you ship with reputable companies, the likelihood of damage is minimised, but there is never zero risk with international vehicle shipping; insurance for your vehicle during the import process is a must.

Storage charges

If you cannot pick up or get your vehicle delivered promptly once it has arrived in New Zealand, you may have to arrange for storage at the port or with a port-affiliated partner until you are able to collect your car, bike or caravan. There will be a fee for storage, usually payable by the day or by the week.

Delivery charges

Delivery of your vehicle to and from the shipping terminals will be a factor in the overall cost of importing a car to New Zealand.


Generally, you have to pay GST on imported cars coming into NZ. GST is payable at 15% on the landed value, which is the cost of the vehicle itself plus insurance and freight (this is also known as the CIF price). 

Importing cars to New Zealand as a new immigrant or for returning residence is a less costly process due to the many GST and compliance exemptions for car imports, available through NZ Customs. 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. To show that all conditions have been met you will require full documented evidence. 


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

Cleaning foreign soil from the vehicle

New Zealand Customs has very strict biosecurity policies. If your vehicle arrives dirty with foreign soil or plant matter, you may be facing a cleaning fee.

Registration in New Zealand, and the cost of any measures to make it roadworthy

If you have shipped a vehicle to New Zealand and are planning on driving it on public roads, the vehicle must meet all standards set out by the NZ Transport Agency, and pay the vehicle registration fee - for a car this is around $100NZD per year.

Possible miscellaneous charges such as import processing, customs brokerage and logistics service provider charges.

Are you ready to get started shipping a car to New Zealand from overseas? 

This can be a complex undertaking, and it is easy to miss crucial details or costs in the planning process. We wholeheartedly recommend you use a professional shipping company so there are no nasty surprises, and your vehicle arrives on time and safely, with no costs you haven’t planned for.

Over 25 years, the McCullough Shipping team have shipped vehicles from almost everywhere; we have imported cars from Japan, UK, USA, Europe, Australia, China and further afield. We have established straightforward processes with excellent customer service and no hidden costs. Contact us for a highly competitive quote, and to talk through any questions you may have about the process of importing a car, motorbike, motorhome or aircraft to New Zealand.

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