Ask LH: Should I Ship My Car From New Zealand?

Ask LH: Should I Ship My Car From New Zealand?

Hey Lifehacker, I’ve been living in Australia for the last three years but I still have a car in New Zealand that I’d like to hang onto. My brother (who still lives over there) has been taking care of it and I still make use of it whenever I head back there on holiday. However, he is looking to move here to Australia next year so he won’t be able to take care of the car any longer. I’ve been weighing up my options and even considering the idea of having it shipped over here to Brisbane. What things do I need to consider and is it worth it? Cheers, Stuck In A Rut

Shipping picture from Shutterstock

Dear SIAR,

Without knowing the make or model of your car this is a difficult question to answer. Generally speaking, you’re usually better off selling the car and putting the proceeds towards a new set of wheels in Australia.

In addition to the shipping costs there are a multitude of additional fees that importers often have to stump up for, including permit applications, customs duties, quarantine inspections, modification costs, State or Territory registration, insurance — the list goes on and on.

The effort and expense involved is really only worth it if the vehicle has a significant value attached to it (we’re assuming your car doesn’t fit this bill or you probably would have mentioned it; if only for bragging purposes).

That said, we’d love to hear from any readers who have attempted to import a vehicle from overseas: how did you find the process and was the expense worthwhile? Let SIAR know in the comments section below.

You can also find additional information at the Australian Government’s Department of Infrastructure and Transport website which includes an Importing Vehicles into Australia section.



Got your own question you want to put to Lifehacker? Send it using our [contact text=”contact form”].


  • I wouldn’t do it again unless it was something unique.

    If the car is unique and wasn’t sold in Australia you’ll have some other issues like the filler flap thing which cars overseas do not have but have to have here.

    The other issue is the child restraint anchor points, many Jap cars won’t fit the Australian standard and need to be modified. Particularly true for hatchbacks, wagons, etc.

    • Well the “Grey” Imported Jap cars have their child restraint anchor points changed to meet Australian Standards. It’s part of the SEVS compliance process. I believe the same compliance process in NZ is the the same for AUS.

      I have a Stagea (wagon) and I’ve had two baby seats in there no problems at all

      • I think they are talking more about personal imports and not SEVS. Can’t tell without knowing what car it is.

        In NZ the Japanese anchor points are sufficient, but not in Australia. Compliance for imports in NZ is very different to Australia.

        • true without knowing what the car is makes either point (personal importing vs selling) rather difficult.

          I didn’t know that NZ compliance is different to Australia..sounds like NZ compliance is easier that Australia

          • Yeah, the silliest thing in Australia is the unleaded fuel filler inserts which stop the larger leaded fuel nozels from going in. This is despite that you can’t buy leaded fuel from a normal servo.

    • I actually have done this, with a 2005 v10 STI JDM 2l not the sticky 2.5 that was pooed out onto the Australian market.

      With the exchange rate so close at the moment it wouldn’t be worth the cost. I transferred mine when the rate was around $1.28 so it was worth it. Unless it is something hard to fine like a Celica GT4 or a high spec Subbie that meets the entry requirements (will need restraints & a steam clean) then probably not worth it.

  • yep, I reckon get your brother to sell it and put the money towards a new one In aus

    • sell it to your brother for $1 and then he has proper ownership of it to be able to sell it for you.

      I hope you trust him.

  • Depending on what car you have…it might be wiser to sell your car over there and buy a car here…You need to take into fact the paper work, shipping and duty costs and registration.

    Since you have owned the car for 12 continuous months…you may qualify for PIO (Personal Import Option) –

    but if you car is available locally (if you own a Japanese “Grey” Import) it would be easier to sell your car over there and buy one here

  • My family did this exact thing around 8 years ago – brought over 2 cars from Auckland to Melbourne.

    1. Ford Fairlane (built in Melbourne anyway)
    2. Toyota Corona (built in NZ, never sold here)

    The compliance costs were not much for either – I think the Fairlane didn’t have anything to change, and the Corona just had to change the mirrors from concave to flat ones, and add an extra cap to the fuel funnel.

    Shipping costs at the time were $3000 each.
    The way I would look at it is this (which is how we did it): If it costs you say $4000 to get everything to Australian Standards, could you buy an equivalent car for cheaper here plus the proceeds from sale?

    In our case, no we couldn’t, and we had both cars from new so knew their history inside out.

  • And don’t forget to consider the insurance costs associated with grey imports. We brought a Mazda MX5 (no jokes please) from NZ to Brisbane after our working stint in Auckland. Company paid for that (wasn’t exorbitant mind you), but we continue to pay for the exercise for high insurance premiums attached to a ‘grey import’ vehicle. It’s a standard car (available right here in Oz) and has no legitimate additional costs to the insurer, but hey, an extra buck to be had right…

  • I shipped a car to the UK and back for a 30 month stint. It was very cost-effective given that it was new-ish and the immediate loss in value was greater than the shipping cost one way. Since I was also able to fill it up with personal effects at no extra cost, it was especially worth it when I loaded it up with 3 pallets of gear.

  • Shippers will no longer allow the filling of vehicles with personal effects. Trailers also have to be empty.

Show more comments

Comments are closed.

Log in to comment on this story!