Steps to importing

If you're importing vehicles, machinery, or tyres you need to make sure they're clean and meet other requirements. We've created a step-by-step process so you can see what's involved.

Follow the steps

Step 1

What you need to know

An overview of importing vehicles, machinery, and tyres from start to finish.

This import process is for:

  • new and used cars, and other vehicles
  • new and used tyres
  • rural and building machinery
  • equipment and parts
  • aircraft arriving as cargo
  • seacraft arriving as cargo.

Importing related products

Processes for importing products related to vehicles, machinery, and tyres are elsewhere on the website. Follow these steps if you're:

Cleaning is essential

All vehicles, machinery, and tyres imported into New Zealand must be clean, both internally and externally.

Summary of main requirements

To import vehicles, machinery, and tyres you must:

  • comply with the requirements of the import health standard (IHS)
  • meet other commercial or government agency requirements, like those of the New Zealand Customs Service
  • clean your item to help ensure it's free of pests and contaminants like soil, seeds and water. It's recommended you use an insecticide
  • be aware of compulsory treatment requirements for vehicles and machinery from the United States. Refer to the import health standard for details
  • provide a declaration with details about your consignment
  • comply with standards for sea containers and wood packaging, if applicable
  • arrange to have used vehicles and machinery inspected when they arrive.

More details about these requirements are in Step 2: What you need to do. 

IHS under review

In 2018, the IHS for vehicles, machinery, and tyres is changing.

Step 2

What you need to do

The tasks you need to complete.

Check the import health standard (IHS)

MPI issues import health standards (IHS) for items that might bring pests and diseases to New Zealand and are considered biosecurity risks. An IHS details the requirements you must meet when importing these risk goods. Requirements include what you need to do in the exporting country before shipping, during transit, and on arrival before your items can be released to you in New Zealand.

Read the IHS and make sure you can meet all the requirements. The guidance document will help you understand what you have to do.

Download the IHS for vehicles, machinery, and tyres [PDF, 516 KB]

Download the IHS guidance document [PDF, 174 KB]

Consider using a customs broker 

A customs broker will help you get import entry clearance. Some services provided by the New Zealand Customs Service can only be accessed by registered customs brokers.

Many freight and transport companies employ their own brokers but if you need help finding one, contact the Customs Brokers and Freight Forwarders Federation.

Meet other agencies' requirements

You'll need to check with other government agencies and meet any of their requirements.

Clean your item before it's shipped

Clean your vehicle or machinery before you ship it to New Zealand. This will reduce the risk of it carrying unwanted organisms, which can cause delays in getting your consignment cleared. Clean items to make sure they are free from biosecurity-risk organisms, organic material, and other contamination.

Used vehicles and machinery should:

  • be cleaned inside and out
  • be washed and vacuumed
  • have all rubbish removed.

A common problem with imported tyres is water sitting inside the tyre. Make sure tyres are drained of any water before they are shipped.

For detailed instruction for cleaning your vehicle ready for importation to New Zealand:

Download the vehicle importation guidance resource [PDF, 911 KB]

Consider spraying the item

Spraying your item with insecticide is not compulsory but is recommended for added security. This treatment will reduce the chances of your consignment being delayed when it arrives in New Zealand. The IHS guidance document has more information about treatment options.

Download the IHS guidance document [PDF, 174 KB]

Register to use Trade Single Window

Trade Single Window is a joint initiative of the New Zealand Customs Service and MPI that lets businesses exchange information securely with government agencies online. You need to register to use it.

Provide a declaration

You need to make a declaration about the item you're importing. Submit this declaration through the Trade Single Window. You should complete the declaration at least several days before the item is due to arrive in New Zealand.

Your declaration needs to have:

  • product identification numbers – for example, vehicle identification number (VIN)
  • make and model (applies only to whole vehicles and units of machinery)
  • port of origin
  • shipment details, including the container number (if applicable) and bill of lading
  • the number and type of tyres (if applicable)
  • names of the seller and buyer, and the buyer's full address.

Are you using sea containers?

Sea containers are considered to be biosecurity risk items and need to be taken to a transitional facility for inspection and unpacking before the contents are released to you. This will be arranged by your customs broker.

Before sending your sea container to New Zealand, you or your customs broker need to apply for a Biosecurity Authority Clearance Certificate (BACC).

Apply for a BACC [PDF, 303 KB]

Fax the completed form to MPI Cargo Risk Profiling at +64 9 909 8584.

Get a signed container quarantine declaration 

Your container must be accompanied by a quarantine declaration. The declaration should be completed and signed by a manager of the packing or exporting facility in the country the goods are shipped from.

Have used vehicles and machinery inspected

MPI inspectors check all used vehicles and machinery when they arrive in New Zealand.

The place of inspection depends on the method of shipping. Items that are not imported in a sea container are inspected at the place of arrival – port or airport. Items arriving in sea containers are usually inspected at a transitional facility.

The biosecurity inspector will check all internal and external surfaces and spaces for soil, plant material, insects, reptiles, or other contaminants.

Other government agencies may also want to inspect your vehicle – for example, the New Zealand Transport Agency or NZ Customs Service.

Dealing with contamination

Should contaminants be found, the vehicle, machinery, or tyres will be cleaned by MPI, or in an MPI-approved facility.

If serious contamination like live organisms is found in or on your item you will be given the option to:

  • treat the contamination (for example, by fumigation or heat treatment)
  • isolate the item until the organism is identified and then arrange treatment if needed
  • ship the product to another destination
  • destroy the product. [XLSX, 29 KB]

Find an MPI approved treatment provider

Are you using wood packaging?

If you're using wood packaging for your item, you need to comply with the requirements for wood packaging.

Step 3

Getting MPI clearance for your consignment

How you know you've met MPI requirements.

A biosecurity clearance will be issued when your consignment has been inspected and meets all the requirements of the IHS.

When to alert MPI

If you notice any biosecurity contamination during or following the importation of your product, contact MPI immediately.

Who to contact

If you have a question about importing vehicles, machinery, and tyres, email

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