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What's a Special Interest Vehicle and How Do You Import One into New Zealand?

Posted on July 28, 2016



When you want to stand out from the crowd on New Zealand roads, nothing beats getting hold of a car that can turn heads.

Many people who import these standout makes and models might choose something classic, something old, something that New Zealand Transport Agency (NZTA) might exempt from some of its stringent emissions, frontal impact and right-hand drive rules because it’s more than 20 years old.

But for those who want to import a bit of more modern styling and more up-to-date engineering – but who are still looking at cars that don’t meet all NZTA’s registration requirements – it’s important to research and understand NZTA’s “special interest” category.

Practically speaking, Special Interest Vehicles (SIV) have – since 2008 when the category was introduced – been a way for enthusiasts of sports or unusual cars less than 20 years old to bring them into the country even though the vehicles wouldn’t usually be permitted to be driven on New Zealand roads.

As an example of the sort of cars we’re talking about here – 2012’s quota of SIVs included Skyline GTRs, Chevy Corvettes, TVRs, Ford Mustangs, Camaros, Jaguars, Porsches, Vipers and Ferraris.

The full rules surrounding the requirements needed to import an SIV can be found on the NZTA website, but the fundamental potential pitfalls that we at McCullough find ourselves dealing with for our customers boil down to some of the legislation’s fine print.

1. You need to tick three of the four NZTA boxes
And those boxes are that a) your car is listed in one of 12 publications as a collector’s item; b) it was manufactured in volumes of less than 20,000 vehicles a year; c) it’s a two-door coupe or a convertible; and, d) it’s manufactured as a high-performance vehicle. In other words, if it’s a four-door car, then you’ll need to find it listed as a collector’s item even if it’s from a small production factory and intended as being high-performance.

2. SIV and left-hand drive permits are separate
As they put it so bluntly on the NZTA website, “A special interest vehicle permit is not a left-hand drive permit”. So even if you’ve made sure that your life-long desire to drive a Mustang around the South Island is coming true and you’ve ticked the boxes above, make sure you also apply to have that left-hand drive car on our roads.

3. There’s a quota system
This is the one that catches out most people. NZTA have an annual limit of 200 SIV permits and 500 left-hand drive permits each year and the SIV permits tend to run out by August. This leads to frustrating delays and leaves customers having to wait until the following January before they can bring their vehicle in.

4. You can’t have a garage-full of SIVs
The legislation allows you to apply for one SIV every two years and you can’t have more than one SIV vehicle registered in your name at any one time. It’s also important to note that these laws aren’t supposed to allow people to set up their own businesses and there are clauses preventing SIVs from being sold or leased within four years of their registration in New Zealand, or from being hired out or used for commercial transport.

Motoring enthusiasts are usually content that the 2008 legislation – albeit quite strict and quota-driven – still allows some SIVs on to Kiwi roads as opposed to NZTA’s previous zero-tolerance stance. At the end of the day, the rules were developed to allow the permits to be distributed among genuine motoring enthusiasts rather than to create a network of commercial dealers. But because the rules aren’t straightforward, it’s still important to ensure you have all the facts to hand when you look to import one into New Zealand.

And that’s why McCullough’s 20-years’ experience of dealing with Customs, MAF and compliance issues surrounding a wide range of imported vehicles can help you though the paperwork and red-tape. If you are interested in finding out more about Special Interest Vehicles or you have already earmarked a make and model and you need information about importing it into New Zealand, McCullough can help save you time, effort and money. Call us on +64 9 303 0075, get a quote, contact us via our website or email us at info@mmnz.biz.

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