Exporting Goods from the USA to New Zealand


There are many reasons for you to export vehicles, household items, personal effects and other non-pet, non-alcohol, non-pharmaceutical products from the USA to New Zealand. Most of our clients are former residents of New Zealand who have stayed abroad for a few years and are intending to reside there again.

Others are American citizens who are planning to immigrate to the country. For the most part, they’re allowed to export used household items to the country duty-free. However, some tariffs and duties may apply to new items, vehicles, and exported items which are intended for commerce.

On used household goods

If you’re a New Zealand citizen who is coming home after 21 months or more outside the country, you are entitled to bring in household items to New Zealand without duties. Minor taxes may apply. To enjoy the duty-free entrance, you must acquire certain documents proving your right to reside in the country.

Non-New Zealand natives may also enjoy the same right if they present documents showing their intention to reside in New Zealand in the long run. These household items must not be brand new. They should have been owned by the importer prior to his/her departure from the USA to New Zealand. These documents are necessary for unaccompanied baggage:

i. Unaccompanied Baggage Declaration
ii. Customs Clearance
iii. Complete and detailed inventory of goods
iv. Shipping Arrival Papers

Passports are necessary to claim the items. Clearance usually takes only 24 hours. If the items are arriving before the owner, a photocopy of the bio section of your passport and a written permission for another person to claim the items on your behalf must be presented to the customs agent in charge.

This leeway to duties does not cover brand new and potentially commercial imported items. Duties and manufacturer certificates are necessary for these goods. Duty-free importation of personal effects also does not cover vehicles, small aircrafts and boats.

On used vehicles

New Zealand uses the right hand drive transmission. Left hand drive vehicles may not be imported into the country unless permitted by the Ministry of Transport. To claim the item, the owner must present his passport. Ownership must be verified when checked with the registry papers of the vehicle. These documents must be shipped with the motor vehicle:

i. Original deed of sale with the date of sale
ii. Insurance and registration papers proving the vehicle’s age and the length of ownership
iii. Any other papers proving the length of time the importer has owned the vehicle
iv. Certificate of Steam Cleaning.

All vehicles must be steam cleaned before being released to the country. This is to protect New Zealanders from harmful elements which may come with the car from the source country. An import license is necessary if the importer is bringing in more than one car.

However, a married couple who are planning to reside in New Zealand eventually may bring in one car each, provided that they also each have drivers’ licenses, and could prove ownership of the car before departing the source country. The vehicle must also be inspected by the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries before it can be released to the importer.

Industrial vehicles and boats

Due to the nature of their use and the differences between these motor vehicles and cars, the permits and documentations necessary may vary. There is no information available on the New Zealand Customs Website about these vehicles, but importers may contact the Embassy of New Zealand in the USA for more details. Expect higher duties and tariffs, especially if these vehicles still have commercial value. Environmental and pest control procedures in the packing and shipping still apply.

Duties of the Importer

It is the owners’/importers’ duty to provide the certificates and inventories of these goods. The shipper must be provided with all the pertinent papers before the product is exported from the USA to New Zealand. The shipper is also not responsible for any falsification or misrepresentation of goods in the inventory which may cause the shipment to be impounded. For more details, visit the New Zealand Customs Service.

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