Clean Car Standard overview

The Clean Car Standard (CCS) is one of a range of government initiatives to tackle transport sector CO2 emission levels as part of the effort to address climate change.

The CCS came into effect on 1 January 2023. Under the scheme, vehicle importers are charged for vehicles they import that have CO2 emission to weight ratios above a set target, and they receive credits for vehicles that have CO2 emissions to weight ratios below a set target.

Who the scheme is for

Anyone importing a light vehicle must comply with the CCS. Importers can be any legal entity accepting a vehicle in their CO2 account. This is usually the party ordering the vehicle to be imported to New Zealand – for example, a dealer, distributor, a logistics company or a member of the public.

Information for importers

What vehicles are subject to the scheme

The CCS applies to all light vehicles except motorcycles, trailers, mopeds, temporary vehicle imports and vehicles which do not require entry certification. There are some excluded vehicles such as motorsport vehicles, scratch-built vehicles, special interest vehicles and vehicles more than 40 years old.

CO2 accounts

Light vehicle importers must have a CO2 account and use the CCS system provided by Waka Kotahi to manage their vehicles in compliance with the CCS rules.

Operating my CO2 Account

CCS targets and CO2 values

The CCS scheme works on a principle that each light vehicle in a CO2 account will have an emissions value and an emissions target.

The emission values are based on the Worldwide Harmonised Light-Vehicle Test Procedure (WLTP). Where WLTP is not provided from the manufacturer, Waka Kotahi will convert the value provided to the 3p-WLTP CO2 value.

The emissions target is determined using calculations in legislation which includes the weight of the vehicle, whether it’s a passenger or commercial vehicle, and other reference data. The targets get progressively harder over time.

The vehicles emissions value is compared with the emissions target at the point of importation. If the emissions value is lower than the target, it will result in a positive CO2 difference value. If the emissions value is higher than the target, it will result in a negative CO2 difference value. 

Data, values and formulas

Credits and charges

Vehicles earn credits or incur charges depending on whether they’re above or below the target emissions.

A negative CCS CO2 value (above the target) will result in a charge, and a positive CCS CO2 value (below the target) will result in credits earned.

Credits do not have a monetary value but can be used to off-set charges completely or reduce the amount that needs to be paid. Importers can also trade CO2 credits with each other. Credits expire 3 full years after the year they were earned.

Importers can choose to be on either the Pay As You Go (PAYG) scheme, where they settle charges as their vehicles are imported, or apply to move to the Fleet Average scheme where accounts are settled annually based on the average charges and credits over a year. 

Credits, charges and payment schemes


The Clean Car Standard took effect on 1 January 2023, with credits and charges being applied from this date for PAYG accounts and vehicles recorded for end of year settlement for Fleet Average accounts.