Just like in neighbouring Australia, importing a car to New Zealand requires meeting various specific requirements to comply with the country’s safety and environmental standards. This article aims to help clarify these requirements, so you know what type of vehicle to look for.

Here is a comprehensive list of the main requirements:

General Requirements for all vehicles

  • Emission Standards: The vehicle must comply with New Zealand’s emission standards. For petrol vehicles, typically EURO 4 or higher; for diesel vehicles, Euro 5 or higher. The purpose here is to restrict pollution and save the government $6 billion in health and productivity losses over the next three decades. Also, it will be good for taking on the new protocols likely to be adopted after late 2024, with stricter emission standards.
  • Frontal Impact Standards: The vehicle must meet New Zealand’s frontal impact standards. These standards are part of a broader effort to improve road safety and protect the well-being of vehicle occupants in NZ. You can use the determination chart here to have idea of which vehicles pass frontal impact standards.
  • Electronic Stability Control (ESC): Vehicles manufactured from 2012 onwards MUST have ESC to comply with New Zealand standards. ESC helps prevent a vehicle from skidding and the driver from losing control of his or her vehicle when turning a corner. Again, it is a policy to assist with public safety. Thankfully most passenger cars made after 2014 have ESC, however this is not definite and occasionally, vehicles (especially vans) with no ESC or ESC removed are sold in Japanese car auctions. At Provide Cars, our logistics team will check these for you to ensure the vehicles you want to bid on has ESC.

Age Restrictions

  • 2012 February or Newer : Vehicles must be first registered on or after 1 January 2012. This is to assist to the emission standards explained above.
  • 20 years or Older : Vehicles that are 20 years old or older from the date of manufacture are eligible for import under the classic and vintage car category. You may be thinking how could such vintage motors meet the emission standards!? Well, most of the vintage vehicles especially for cars built prior to 1990 had far less requirements. The emission policy and ESL standards mentioned above does not apply to these old fellas. However, it still must be structurally sound and meet New Zealand safety requirements and pass the Entry Compliance Inspection. So still a NO to any rust issues or repair related issues.

Specific Vehicle Types

  • Heavy Vehicle (over 3.5 tonnes). If you are importing a heavy vehicle into New Zealand,  it must meet additional safety and emissions requirements, as well as comply with specific New Zealand standards for load-carrying capacity and vehicle structure. 

Bio Security Check and Inspection (In JAPAN)

The primary goal of a border quarantine check is to protect New Zealand’s unique ecosystems, agriculture, and native wildlife by ensuring that imported goods, including vehicles, do not introduce any biosecurity risks.

Border Quarantine Check; Entry Certification.

  • Pre-Shipment Cleaning, Quarantine inspection service, and Pre-shipment inspection certificate: Vehicles must comply to Ministry of Agriculture‘s bio-security regulations, to protect the wild-life and the delicate ecosystem of New Zealand. This process requires the vehicle to be thoroughly cleaned before shipment to remove any soil, plant material, insects and other contaminants. The vehicle will only go on shipping cargo only once this has passed. Although all this is arranged and checked by shipping companies, you can see what is required for the bio-security clearance here.

Car inspection in New Zealand

The vehicle that arrives in New Zealand needs to pass both JEVIC and Ministry of Primary Industries (MPI) bio-security quarantine checks. (Bio security service however, is completed in Japan before shipping). The vehicle will be transported to a nearby compliance centre in New Zealand, for the final inspection of roadworthiness, and emission clearance based on the current standards set by the New Zealand government (mentioned above) as well as the car’s documentation. Other documentation processes are also completed at the compliance centre.


There are a few regulations that must be considered when researching for the vehicle you want to import from Japan to New Zealand. Most obvious requirements you should consider are the age restrictions, emission standards, ESC and the vehicle’s weight.

  At Provide Cars, the sales rep will assist you and make sure that the vehicle you would like to purchase will meet all of the used vehicle import regulations required, so the purchase and importation can be done as smoothly as possible. Read here for detailed Q&A for the vehicle importation process at Provide Cars. Additional to the import regulations, there will be other documentation requirements, such as Bill of Lading (BOL), and the vehicle registration and de-registration certificate from Japan etc… Ask us any questions, and we will do our best to get back to you.