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Used vehicles from the USA

If you're importing a used vehicle from the USA you must provide evidence that it meets a range of approved standards before it can be registered for use on the road. 

Evidence

You must provide evidence of:

Proof of ownership

You need to provide evidence that you're the legal owner of the vehicle. This includes:

  • the original documents showing the ownership history to the last registered owner in the United States (eg deregistration or change of ownership papers or a USA certificate of origin) and
  • an invoice, bill of sale or receipt, etc.

Evidence of compliance with emissions standards

For both used and parallel-imported new vehicles, an EPA label or statement of compliance that includes an approved emissions standard is acceptable proof your vehicle meets New Zealand requirements.

US statements of compliance often refer to emissions standards using the terms 'EPA Federal Tier 1' or 'EPA Federal Tier 2' or similar. However, the vehicle industry does not use these terms in the Vehicle Emissions Rule for US standards ('US2001', 'US2004', etc). Use the following table to match the different terms:

US Federal/EPA Tier 1 US 96
US 98D/98P
US Federal/EPA Tier 2 US 2001
US 2004

Evidence of compliance with frontal impact standards

For cars (class MA)

You may be able to prove your car complies using our frontal impact lists. These lists cover vehicles manufactured during 1994–1996 when frontal impact standards were being developed. They therefore apply mainly to used imports. If the list says your vehicle does not meet a frontal impact standard, then you cannot bring it into New Zealand.

Your vehicle isn't listed? If your vehicle was manufactured in the last 20 years it should have an FMVSS plate, which is acceptable as evidence.

FMVSS plate

Example of an FMVSS (US Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards) plate

No FMVSS compliance plate? You'll need to get a statement of compliance as evidence.

You may not have to prove your vehicle complies with frontal impact standards if:

  • it is more than 20 years old
  • it is a 'special interest' vehicle
  • you're emigrating or returning to New Zealand and bringing your vehicle with you.

Find out more about these exceptions.

For 4x4, SUV and forward-control vans (classes MB and MC)

If your Class MB or Class MC vehicle was manufactured after 1 October 2003, it must meet a frontal impact standard. The exception is if you're emigrating or returning to New Zealand and bringing your vehicle with you. Find out more about this exception.

Acceptable proof is an FMVSS plate. No FMVSS compliance plate? You'll need to get a statement of compliance as evidence.

Before you import a vehicle from the USA

Talk to an entry certifier to check whether the FMVSS plate on your vehicle is acceptable.

You don't have an acceptable FMVSS plate? You'll need to get a statement of compliance as evidence.

Evidence of compliance with fuel consumption information requirements

You can use our online tool (external link)  to provide the fuel consumption compliance information. You'll then receive a fuel consumption certificate, which you take to the entry certifier.

If your fuel consumption certificate says consumption is 'unknown' it is still acceptable as compliance evidence to give to the entry certifier.

Evidence of compliance with light-vehicle brakes standards for electronic stability control (ESC)

All MA, MB, MC vehicles having FMVSS compliance from 1 September 2011 have electronic stability control. Otherwise, you must check for the presence of ESC. See the technical bulletin about how to prove the existence of ESC in the electronic stability control identification bulletin (external link) . Also, vehicle-specific information can be found on this safercar.gov website (external link) .

Evidence of compliance with heavy-vehicle brake standards

You must check for compliance with one of the approved brake standards if you want to import a heavy vehicle of class MD3, MD4, ME, NB or NC, no matter what date the vehicle was manufactured.

See the detailed information about how to prove compliance with an approved brake standard in the following sections of the Vehicle inspection requirements manual – entry certification (external link) :

Evidence of overall standards compliance

To prove your vehicle meets applicable standards in New Zealand it must have an FMVSS plate fixed. This proves it met the standards when manufactured. The vehicle must also have:

  • original documentation confirming that it was first registered in the USA
  • for a new vehicle, documentation confirming that it was manufactured for the US market and would be permitted for use on public roads in the USA, eg a USA certificate of origin.

Next step

You can move onto step three of the importing process – preparing to import.

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