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What is a Warrant of Fitness and Can I Arrange It Myself When Importing My Car?

Posted on June 1, 2018 – Shipping Vehicles

When you import a vehicle into New Zealand, it must be checked for roadworthiness and to make sure it complies with certain environmental criteria such as biosecurity and CO2 emissions. This is called entry certification, which also includes registering and licensing your vehicle.

During the certification process, your car will be issued with a Warrant of Fitness – also called Certificate of Fitness depending on the vehicle’s size - which is a key document.

What happens during a WoF inspection?

The Warrant of Fitness inspection ensures that your car is generally safe from a mechanical point of view. The full list of checks is in the New Zealand Transport Agency’s Vehicle inspection requirements manual (VIRM) and it includes checking:

- that the tyres are in good condition (including tread depth), were fitted correctly in the case of asymmetrical tyres and that the wheels are compatible with the type of tyre used;

- that the brakes work properly;

- the integrity of the vehicle’s structure, specifically that there is no rust in certain part of the frame;

- that all the lights, windscreen wipers, airbags and the speedometer work;

- that the glazing, especially that of the windscreen would be safe in the case of a collision;

- that the doors open and close easily;

- that the safety belts are not damaged and that the buckles work properly;

- that steering and suspension are safe and secure;

- that there is no leak in the exhaust system and that the exhaust isn’t smoky or too loud;

- that the fuel system has no leak.

If your car passes, a WoF label will be issued and applied on the inside of the front windscreen. A Warrant of Fitness isn’t needed just during the import process, your car will have to pass this inspection on a regular basis, once a year in most cases but if it is new and has never been registered anywhere in the world before, it won’t need another WoF until it is three-years-old while cars registered before 2000 will need one every 6 months.

The label of the Warrant of Fitness will show the date of expiry but it is your responsibility to make sure that you take your car for its next WoF inspection in time so in doubt, double-check the New Zealand Transport Agency’s website or call them.

You should note that it is illegal to drive a car that didn’t pass its inspection or doesn’t display a valid Warrant of Fitness label.

Can I arrange it myself when I import my car?

Warrants of Fitness are issued by authorised centres so, technically, there is no reason why you couldn’t organise it yourself. However, why on earth would you want to??

As we explained above, the Warrant of Fitness is only one step of entry certification so it would be impractical to take your vehicle out of the process to look after this one stage only. In addition, it can only be done in New Zealand so if you are still abroad, you would have the further complication of having to manage it remotely and possibly have to physically travel back and forth to sort out unexpected problems.

If you are thinking of importing your car yourself, you would then, of course have to organise the WoF yourself as well as all the rest, but, there again, you have to think carefully about whether it is a wise course of action. We often say that transporting vehicles can be straightforward, but this is because we have decades of experience and a network of trusted partners all around the world. We live and breathe shipping, but for a person with no prior experience, international freight-forwarding is no walk in the park.

You will have to arrange marine insurance and export documents and make sure they reach the right people at the right time; coordinate Customs clearance, the availability of a container -unless you choose a Roll-on Roll-off method - and the transport of your vehicle from its current location to the port of departure then from the port of arrival to its final destination.

If you are shipping your vehicle in a container, you will be responsible for packing it yourself. Packing is absolutely vital to your car arriving in good condition, and a shipping company like McCullough will have first-hand knowledge of the best techniques and the best products which you won’t. Insurers might also be reluctant to insure you for this very reason, or they may offer you unattractive rates or an exclusion list so long that it will almost be pointless to insure your vehicle!

Shipping as an individual will also mean that you won’t get the trade discounts that we get as a company handling large volumes. So although you may think that cutting out the middle man is bound to save you money, it won’t necessarily be the case.

Entry certification, of which the Warrant of Fitness is a part, is often the biggest hurdle. New Zealand has some o f the most stringent regulations in the world as far as biosecurity is concerned and without knowing what inspectors will be looking at, it can be difficult to get your car cleaned to the required standards, which means extra costs and delays.

The same goes for mechanical compliance, and if you get this wrong, your vehicle could, without exaggerations, be stuck in a warehouse for months. A professional company like ours will be able to advise you even before your car leaves the country of origin and identify issues that could get your car to fail its inspection so that they can be fixed.

If you would like to know more about how McCullough can organise the shipping of your vehicle, give us a ring on +64 9 309 1163 or send us an email.




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