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259 posts

Ultimate Geek

#207893 18-Jan-2017 15:07
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I've seen an older thread about importing cars from Japan (via IBC) and as I'm now in the process of replacing our run-about, thought I'd give it a shot. Those older threads didn't really offer much info and are about a year old so thought I'd start a new thread.


On the IBC site there's an estimated CIF (Cost / Insurance / Freight) price but what additional costs should I expect once the car lands in NZ? I'm guessing registration for a start, but is there anything else? Looking at Carwebs the costs to bring a car over seem really high, given I'm only wanting to spend ~5k on a car.





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3344 posts

Uber Geek


  #1705268 18-Jan-2017 15:13
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I wouldn't have thought anything you might import from Japan today would come in under 5 grand.  Why not just buy one from trademe?

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Uber Geek


  #1705270 18-Jan-2017 15:14
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At that price range it would probably be something quite unremarkable and already have plenty of them here which you can buy hassle free I would have thought? People seem to bring in the more interesting and rare things that would not sell well on a yard or are too high risk for dealers with breaking down etc.



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Ultimate Geek

  #1705271 18-Jan-2017 15:15
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Ok, my budget is slightly more than that. There are a few vehicles around 6-7k, supposedly delivered.




...and yes, I'm looking for something incredibly dull to drive. The same age/condition here for the car I'm looking at is around 9k in yards.

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Uber Geek


  #1705274 18-Jan-2017 15:21
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Why not buy privately?  You are probably looking at the same kind of money, and at least you can see what you are getting.

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Uber Geek


  #1705279 18-Jan-2017 15:24
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Other costs once here are Compliance (car checked for rust, corrosion, flood damage etc.) and initial WOF, Registration (plates) and GST. Don't forget about the GST.


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  #1705285 18-Jan-2017 15:34
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Other costs once here are Compliance (car checked for rust, corrosion, flood damage etc.) 



And if its found with the above, you're still stuck with it with probably no come back. Its a risk buying "unseen", regardless of photos etc really unless its from a reputable company.



XPD^ / DemiseNZ


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259 posts

Ultimate Geek

  #1705286 18-Jan-2017 15:36
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Ah that's what I'm after.. so compliance is $350, WOF $50, Initial Registration ...not sure...


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Uber Geek


  #1705287 18-Jan-2017 15:38
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I believe registration is the same as usual, once you have the compliance cert.  You have to go through the same thing if you let your WOF/REGO lapse for too long.


And you can be fairly sure something at least will need fixing, so allow for that.

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Uber Geek


  #1705300 18-Jan-2017 15:49
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I have a mate who has bought in about 8 cars himself from Japan. He uses some sort of Agent in Japan who goes to the Auctions for him. He basically tells him what sort of car he wants, and a max. price (in Yen) he wants to pay for the car. The Agent will translate the Auction sheets for him and send them to him and he will yay or nay a car(s) and the agent will bid on them. If successful, he arranges for sending of the car to NZ.


He has never had a problem, and AFAIK he hasn't had to spend any extra on compliance. He is usually looking at cars that once landed have cost him around $10k. Mostly Subaru Legacys (he's had a few, and currently has about 4 Subarus). He has sold a few of them, and never lost money on them, but never made a great deal either (that isn't why he does it, he just likes to cycle through cars and couldn't stand paying dealers). The last Legacy he brough in cost him just under $10k landed and on-road. Estimated (looking at Trade Me) value would be about 12-13k on it.

52 posts

Master Geek


  #1705327 18-Jan-2017 16:03
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I've looked at this site for a long time to compare Importing vs TradeMe...


It's got a lot of great features - one being it gives you a rough breakdown of costs to ship / insure / register etc.


For example:


If you pick 'New Zealand' as the destination, it gives you a price indication of the actual car, plus costs, direct to a local city if need be.


(Port pickup is cheaper BTW, the city destination includes car transportation).


In the above, you'll see:


  Customs GST (approximately 15% of Total Price)
  Registration 1 year 280.55NZD
  Government Transaction Fee 49.24NZD
  Compliance Base Fee approximately 450NZD


I've found it's pretty handy to compare what you can get onshore vs off.







259 posts

Ultimate Geek

  #1705329 18-Jan-2017 16:06
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I know someone who a few years back brought across a Skyline. He reckons the cost of the car to NZ and getting it on the road was about 8-9k less than anything in the dealers yard (in fact his insurance company had to raise the vehicles cost to accommodate for the NZ replacement value) No mechanical issues and any scratches on the body were already detailed thoroughly in the auction sheet. 




I figured I'd try out the process on a small car first and if that seems ok, look at replacing our main (more expensive) car next year. From what I can tell you get way more benefit in directly importing a $15k car than something around the $5-6k mark, but it's really just the process at this stage.

3885 posts

Uber Geek

  #1705562 19-Jan-2017 02:06

Check it has the right emissions codes to be allowed on the road in NZ. And I would only import Japan new cars. Have heard of some cases of used cars being exported from Europe to Japan. Odometer wound back and even a case where the year of manufacture was misrepresented. Then registered in Japan. So all Japanese paperwork checks out.


Turns out the process to register a used import in Japan is open for abuse. and


I am aware of different case but can't say anything else as it is subject to legal action.

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Uber Geek


  #1706465 20-Jan-2017 15:24
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In 2000 I (with the help of a friend's contact in Japan) purchased a 1997 Mistubishi Diamante with just 11,000kms on the clock. I got it for what I thought was a good deal, but it got stopped at the border for repaired crash damage in the rear end. As part of the compliance process, it was sent to a specialist crash repair inspector who had it for around a week.


The repairs completed in Japan were certified as safe by the inspector, however there was a significant additional cost which I had to pay prior to the car being released to me, as they partia;lly deconstructed the rear of the vehicle, then put it all back together again. I forget exactly how much it was now, but from memory I was expecting to have the car on the road for just over $17,000, and it ended up being over $19,000. Taking that into account, I didn't save much (if any) money in the end - the saving grace was that it had significantly lower kms on the clock than any other similar examples on the yards at the time.


Don't under estimate what it could cost in extra charges if it is flagged at the border for accident/flood damage etc. Dealers can cope with one off extra costs if they are averaged out over dozens of cars, but someone importing just one car does not have that luxury should it require further checks.

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Ultimate Geek

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  #1706762 20-Jan-2017 23:19
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If you are wanting to buy a $5k hack, just hit up trade me for a hatchback.




I've bid on a few car's via carwebs (but never won an auction)

Their cost structure seems reasonable. Their fee is only $850, and for that they will inspect and bid on as many cars as you like, translate auction sheets of any car you want to bid on, and arrange transport and getting the car road legal in NZ.






Car cost:


Winning bid amount




Auction house fees + inspection + sales tax :


¥40,000 + 1.5%




Transport from auction / de-reg / Odometer check / MPI inspection:






Shipping & entry permits:






Marine transit insurance / port charges:






Carwebs fee:






Customs GST:






Customs clearance / transport / compliance / emissions testing / WoF inspection / cleaning:








According to Carwebs a zero yen car would cost NZ$5151 (+REGO, cira $250 but depends on fuel type and safety rating) to get transported and road legal in NZ.

Obviously if you are looking to spend say $7k, this doesn't leave much money for actually bidding on the car, compared to overheads.




Things to watch out for (or get your agent to check for you)


  • Emissions standards / frontal impact standards - Generally you can't a car older than 2005 year to NZ. (some exemptions for 20 year old + cars and collectors cars). Get this wrong and your car will arrive but you won't be able to be registered to use on public roads...
  • Risk of failing compliance. This is like a super strict WOF. If they decide that the car has been modified / crashed / flood damaged, you will be shelling out for expert opinions or repairs to try to get the car road legal.
  • Service history. Basically no cars in the japanese auctions have a service history. As such you don't know if they have ever been serviced. As the Japanese often keep their cars for such a short time it appears to be not uncommon not to bother servicing your car.
  • Keys - It seems common for cars to be auctioned with only a single key. Additional remote keys cost $450 - $1000+ in NZ. It is a good idea to have a spare key as in many modern cars you need to replace the car's entire computer ($2k-$3.5k+) if you lose every key, but if you still have a spare key, you can just have a new one made for normally under $1000.
  • Snow tires - Avoid, they are not desirable except in winter if temperatures where you live are generally below +6 Deg C (or it is your ski car).
  • Entertainment - Try get on with a DIN or DOUBLE DIN head unit so you can swap it out here for a NZ spec head unit. It is not possible to translate most cars to english. Some cars (like the nissan leaf - except gen 2 S) require a encrypted SD card that is unique to the car for the built in entertainment incl heater controls etc (in japanese) to work. For some reason they take these out of the car's. It's a pain (and $700+) to source a replacement so your heater and radio will work. (also band expander needed for built in entertainment. Any Nav features won't work here.
  • Customs cleaning cost - Risk you may be charged for extra steam cleaning to avoid biosecurity risk to NZ from dirt in engine bay etc.
  • Smoking is more common in Japan than NZ, don't buy anything that scores worse than "B" for interior condition.
  • Obviously you can't inspect the car yourself or test drive and must wait a month or so after winning auction to take delivery.
  • Some performance cars need 98 gas only (NZ new performance cars are generally set up to burn either 95 or 98)
  • Not so relevant at your price point (even if you buy in NZ you will prob get an ex japan car), but spec on Japan cars is often lower than the NZ new equivalent. Side curtain airbags are rarer in japan, and japan minivans often have lap belts only on center seats,in NZ 3 point seat belts on all seats is standard on minivans. Payload is often set lower (softer suspension) in japan as people are on average smaller and lighter there.
  • Manual cars are not very popular and hence hard to find in japan.



Make sure the savings is worth carrying the above risks. The low end used car market is super competitive in NZ, often there is not much savings to be had in return for the hassle of importing a car for yourself.

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