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Tips to avoid surprise fees from vehicle shipping to New Zealand

Posted on February 23, 2022

Tips to avoid surprise fees from vehicle shipping to New Zealand

There are several costs to consider when shipping a vehicle from the UK, Japan, Australia or elsewhere to New Zealand. If you are importing a car, caravan, motorbike or boat to or from NZ and do not follow the correct processes, you might end up with some surprise fees. Here’s what you should be aware of.

Biosecurity cleaning fees

New Zealand Customs follows far stricter biosecurity regulations than most countries. While we love that this keeps our waterways clean and forests healthy so we can continue to enjoy NZ scenic road trips and NZ camping spots, it often causes issues for people bringing vehicles into the country.

All used vehicles are inspected by MPI regardless of a ‘cleaning certificate’ from elsewhere. If your vehicle arrives dirty with foreign soil or plant matter, you will face a cleaning fee. This is usually around NZ$100-$200.

Fuel tank fees

Vehicles with more than a quarter of a tank of petrol cannot be shipped for safety reasons. Shipping companies will charge extra if they have to remove fuel from your car, caravan or motorbike.

Compliance fees

Even if a vehicle has been registered and operated in another country, it may not be compliant with the entry certification standards set out by the NZTA. You will have to pay for the entry certificate and an NZ registration fee of around $100. If your car does not meet regulations, you will have to pay for the repairs and re-certifications. To avoid these fees, ask your local mechanic to perform a check that covers all vehicle entry standards for New Zealand.

GST and tariffs on vehicles shipped to New Zealand

Check whether you qualify for an GST exemption before you ship your vehicle. 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.

If you do not qualify for the exemption, you will need to budget 15% on the landed value of your private motor vehicle or aircraft. Boats and caravans will incur tariff duties as well as GST. Contact us for a tariff estimate.

Cost differences between shipping methods

If you are shipping your car from a location that has RORO shipping available, we recommend the RORO method over container shipping. However, the vehicle must be fully operational for RORO shipping. If the staff loading and unloading your ship cannot start or drive your car, your car will either not be loaded or will incur extra fees.

Storage charges

If you are not available to pick up or get your vehicle delivered promptly once it arrives in New Zealand you will have to arrange for storage. Budget for this cost in advance.

Insurance fees

In the unlikely event that your vehicle is damaged during transport, ship operators usually do not have liability. Insurance will cover any damage, so you won’t have to pay extra for repairs. Most vehicle shipping companies can arrange insurance for you.

Choose a reputable vehicle shipping company instead of arranging shipping on your own

The best way to avoid surprise shipping fees is to have a good provider do the work for you. Our McCulloughs team has decades of experience, with established processes and no hidden vehicle import costs. Contact us for an affordable shipping quote for vehicles to and from New Zealand, or to talk through any questions you may have about importing a car, motorbike, motorhome or boat.


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