Import Car from New Zealand to USA

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from New Zealand to the USA?

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Want more information on car import services to the USA from New Zealand?

Read on below for our New Zealand to US Vehicle Import Checklist, Determining Vehicle Eligibility for Import to the USA, New Zealand to US Car Import Costs & Time Frame, New Zealand to US Vehicle Import Options, Ports Served in the US & New Zealand, and other details on how to Import Car from New Zealand to USA.

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New Zealand to US Vehicle Import Checklist

Here’s a rough breakdown of the process you’ll need to go through to import your vehicle to the United States.
  • Determine your vehicle’s eligibility for import to the US, or determine the need to modify the vehicle to meet US standards (if your nonconforming vehicle is eligible for modification and import)

  • File form HS-7 and form 3520-1 or contract with a DOT-registered importer to modify the vehicle and certify that it conforms to all Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards (FMVSS) and Emissions Standards

  • Understand the costs of importing a vehicle, including:

    • Freight and insurance charges when shipping your vehicle

    • Wharf, transport, storage and delivery charges after your vehicle arrives

    • Duties, taxes and fees, including the gas-guzzler tax

    • Cleaning the undercarriage of foreign soil

    • Registration and insurance requirements in the relevant US state or territory

    • Other charges such as import processing, customs brokers’, and logistics service provider charges

  • Select an international car import company and preferred shipping method to transport your vehicle from New Zealand to the United States

  • Determine your vehicle’s departure and destination ports

  • Confirm the vehicle’s undercarriage is clean and free of foreign soil

  • If you wish to register your vehicle for road use in the United States, your vehicle should bear the International Registration Marker or, if you are a US resident, you will need to register your vehicle with the DMV in your state of residence

More information on the process of importing a vehicle to the United States can be found here.

Determining the Eligibility of Your Vehicle for Import to the United States

As you engage in the vehicle import process, some of the most important questions to consider include:

  • Whether you are a US citizen, military or civilian employee of the US government, or a nonresident,
  • Whether you plan to permanently keep the car in the US or if it’s just a temporary move,
  • Whether the car was manufactured to comply with all applicable FMVSS, and, if not, whether it is a nonconforming motor vehicle eligible for shipment,
  • Whether your vehicle was manufactured after September 1, 1978, and
  • Whether your vehicle is a model year 1987 or later.
  • Whether your vehicle can be registered in your State.

These questions and more will determine the costs to import the vehicle to the US, whether your car is eligible for import to the United States, and finally, whether you will need to go through additional steps to make your vehicle eligible for import. In some cases, such as temporary import for racing or other purposes, the usual standards may not apply. CFR Rinkens can help you through the process of determining what will be required to import your vehicle.

Conforming vs. Nonconforming Vehicles

Generally, if a vehicle already meets the requirements for import to the United States, it is because that model was originally designed for export and sale in the United States, or was manufactured in the United States for domestic sale. As such, nonconforming vehicles are required to be modified to meet all applicable FMVSS and EPA emissions standards for import into the United States.

Things to Consider

  • Vehicles more than 21 years old with their original engines may qualify for an EPA exemption.

  • Vehicles more than 25 years old may qualify for DOT.

  • All other vehicles must made for the U.S. market and EPA/DOT compliant.

  • The undercarriage of your car will need to be clean and free of foreign soil. Therefore, you will need to have the exterior of your vehicle steam-sprayed or otherwise thoroughly cleaned before import to the United States.

If your vehicle conforms to these standards, it will bear a manufacturer’s label on the engine compartment attesting to its compliance to emissions standards in English, as well as a certification label near the driver’s side door confirming that it complies to safety, bumper and theft prevention standards. You will need to complete EPA form 3520-1 and DOT form HS-7 attesting to your vehicle’s compliance. Additionally, you will need the shipper’s or carrier’s original bill of lading, bill of sale, foreign registration, and other documents covering the vehicle, to be provided to your Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) inspector.

If your vehicle is nonconforming, it may still be eligible for import with modifications by a DOT-registered importer, who modifies the vehicle and certifies that it conforms to all applicable FMVSS and emissions standards. Additionally, the importer must post a bond equivalent to one and a half times the dutiable value of the vehicle (in addition to the normal CBP entry bond). A copy of the bond must be provided with the HS-7 form. The same is applicable for EPA, the list is here: EPA Independent Commercial Importers.

A nonconforming car may be shipped from New Zealand to the United States under certain conditions, such as re-importing a previously exported vehicle, shipping a vehicle for personal use not exceeding one year, shipping a vehicle as a member of foreign armed forces, diplomatic personnel, or other exceptions authorized by the US State Department, bringing a vehicle into the country for testing, demonstration, or competition, or other special circumstances. CFR Rinkens can help you identify if your vehicle falls into one of these categories to Import Car from New Zealand to USA.

New Zealand to US Car Import Costs & Time Frame

Using a baseline of a compact car being imported using the shared container product from the Port of Auckland to the Port of Los Angeles, our estimate for importing a vehicle starts at a cost of $2,500 USD, with an estimated turnaround time of 30 days.

NOTE: There is other import charges that are specific to each Motor vehicle. Please ensure you contact your CFR Rinkens sales person who will quote you these extra charges.

The cost to import a car to United States can vary according to factors such as the model and make of your vehicle, your current location, the nearest departure port in New Zealand, your shipping method of choice, availability of your chosen services and your final destination. Additionally, you’ll need to consider costs such as storage, cleaning, other vendor fees, and American taxes & duties.

Duties are levied by Customs and Border Patrol before your vehicle is delivered; if you are staying in United States and the vehicle is imported concurrently with your arrival in the country, you are permitted to import a car for up to 12 months without having to pay duties.

Taxes & Duties for Importing Cars to the United States

Generally, foreign-made vehicles imported for personal use or sale are dutiable at the following rates:

  • Auto: 2.5%
  • Trucks: 25%
  • Motorcycles: free or 2.4%

Duty rates are based on price paid or payable, and most Canadian-manufactured vehicles are duty-free. If you are a resident of the United States returning to the country from travel, work, or study abroad, you may apply your $800 CBP exemption, and those of accompanying family members, towards the value of the vehicle under the following circumstances:

  • The vehicle accompanies you on your return
  • You’ve imported the vehicle for personal use

To obtain an estimate of the cost to import a car to the United States, fill out our free quick quote form. We guarantee a response within 24 hours.

New Zealand to US Vehicle Import Options

Import Car from New Zealand to USA can be performed using a shared container, a sole container or a roll-on/roll-off service.

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Roll-On/Roll-Off – This option tends to be one of the more affordable ones as you only must pay port charges and customs clearance charges in addition to the shipping charge. Your vehicle will be loaded into the holding area of a large vessel, one which resembles a big parking garage. This method is more suitable for shipping and handling bulkier vehicles like work trucks.

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Shared Container Service – Several vehicles are imported using one single container. The container must be processed, so more fees are involved than with the roll-on/roll-off method, however they are shared between several clients. Fees include customs clearance, trucking charge, terminal handling charge and a charge for unloading the vehicles at a warehouse.

You may be required to wait for a longer period before your car can be imported as the container can only depart with a full load thanks to other clients.

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Full Container Load – This method is the same as the shared container load, except that one or more of your vehicle(s) occupies the entire container and the fees, which are similar to those for shared containers, are borne by you alone.

Container loading offers the benefit of added security.  When the vehicle is received, photographs and a condition report are taken of the car itself as well as the loading process.  Once the container arrives at the destination, our warehouse will take photos of the unloading process and of the vehicle itself.  The vehicle is kept secure throughout the process, so clients may transport other items inside the vehicle, although they are advised to pack with care as we are not liable for any loss or damages sustained.

We choose not to use wood ramps like other companies but instead employ a steel loading system, which is more effective in preventing loss and damage.

Transits tend to be faster than with the roll-on/roll-off service as the containers depart on a weekly basis.

Additional Services

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Sourcing Vehicles – Our long list of car buyers developed in our nearly thirty years in the auto shipping industry enables us to find and buy vehicles for purchasers located overseas for a commission or additional fee to be paid to the car buyer.

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Other Services – Some of the auto transport services we offer in overseas territories include domestic pickup, vehicle import assistance, tracking of your shipment, customs clearance in the USA and a full vehicle inspection report.

Ports Served in the US and New Zealand

Departure Ports – New Zealand

The location your vehicle will depart from depends on the method of car shipping to the United States, where your vehicle is located, your budget and which services the nearest port offers. Here are the New Zealand ports we can import your vehicle from:

  • Auckland

  • Lyttelton

  • Napier

  • Otago

  • Tauranga

  • Wellington

Destination Ports – United States

We are able to import into any port in the USA, with CFR facilities in Los Angeles, New York, Houston, Miami, Oakland, and Charleston.

Cleaning Your Vehicle’s Undercarriage

Before importing your vehicle to the United States, the undercarriage must be cleaned and free of foreign soil to prevent the introduction of invasive plants, animals, fungi and microorganisms. This can be accomplished through steam cleaning or other thorough cleaning methods.

CFR Rinkens can assist with finding an appropriate cleaner to help ensure you comply with this requirement.

We do not recommend washing the interior of the vehicle as it can cause mold during transport. Vacuuming the interior is usually more than sufficient.

Driving Your Vehicle in the United States

Before driving your vehicle in the United States, ensure that both you and your vehicle comply with US licensing and registration laws.

Requirements differ based on your citizenship status and the length of your stay in the United States.

Your imported vehicle should bear the International Registration Marker, and you may wish to consider acquiring an International Driving Permit (IDP) if you are a foreign national importing a vehicle to the United States.

    • If you are a US resident, you should contact the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) in your state or territory of residence, inquire about temporary license plates, and determine what documents and certifications the DMV requires from CBP to register the vehicle.
    • If you are a national of a Central or South American country that has ratified the Inter-American Convention of 1943, you may drive your vehicle in the US for touring purposes for one year or for the period of the validity of the documents, whichever is shorter, without US license plates or US driver’s permits, provided the car carries the International Registration Marker and registration card, and the driver has the International Driving Permit.
    • If you are a motorist visiting the United States as a tourist from a country that has ratified the Convention on International Road Traffic of 1949, you may drive in the US for one year with your own national license plates (registration tags) on your vehicle and with your own personal drivers’ license.
    • If you are a motorist from Canada or Mexico, you are permitted to tour in the US without US license plates or US driver’s permits, under agreements between the United States and these countries.
    • If you are a motorist from a country not a party to any of the above agreement, you must secure a driving permit in the US after taking an examination.
    • If you are a foreign national employed in the US, you may use your foreign license tags from the port of entry to your destination in the US.

    Other New Zealand/US Shipping Options

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