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Imported vehicles for motorsport use

Today’s modern technology has made the world so small you can easily purchase a vehicle from anywhere around the globe, simply by pushing a key while seated in your own lounge. That’s the easy bit, but if proper care isn’t taken that simple action can lead to significant difficulties down the line.

MotorSport New Zealand receives inquiries from time to time from people wanting to import competition cars from overseas. When this happens, we are able to provide the enquirer with the appropriate information and guidance. Unfortunately, some people don’t think to contact us first and this can lead to complications, delays in processing and sometimes increased costs to the applicant. The attractive shiny, just a ‘push-of-a-button’ bargain can turn horribly wrong if appropriate due diligence is not carried out beforehand. Just because a car has been built for some type of competition in another country doesn’t automatically mean it will comply with regulations here in New Zealand.

In this article, we would like to set out some of the key documents you should ensure are available before pushing ‘Buy Now’. If you follow these guidelines, then processing your new toy here should be very seamless as many people have found.

Vehicle Identity

One of the most important things to consider is the vehicle you are looking at the actual vehicle. Make sure you have a Chassis Number or VIN and ask for a verification photo if you have any concerns. This identification will be necessary when trying to associate the safety cage paperwork with the vehicle you are purchasing. The correct vehicle identity is even more important if you wish to road register the vehicle when it arrives.

Safety Cage Certification Papers

Obtaining the correct safety cage paperwork for the vehicle is vital to avoid delays in processing and potentially additional costs. In most cases, if the car has an authentic safety structure installed, there will be a valid certificate available. Most safety cage certificates follow a reasonably similar layout and the key thing to look for on the certificate is the chassis number of the vehicle. If the certificate does not detail the chassis number of the car you are looking at then there is nothing to tie that certificate to your vehicle.

There will be exceptions and if this is case you should talk to the Technical Department before proceeding. Typically, if you are looking at a vehicle in the USA it is unlikely there will be a safety cage certificate. Many of their safety cages are built to series regulations and simply measured against those regulations throughout the car’s history. To accept such a vehicle here, we would require a copy of those regulations, details of the safety structure including material and written verification from the constructor.

Competition History

When reviewing applications for vehicles that have been purchased overseas, we need to see evidence that the vehicle has been accepted in competition. This is usually by means of a competition logbook and this would be available in most cases. There are some cases where logbooks aren’t used and, in these cases, we would want to see some evidence that the vehicle has been accepted for competition. If a logbook isn’t available, you should talk to the MotorSport New Zealand Technical Department to discuss options.

New Zealand Documentation Process

When an imported vehicle is reviewed for acceptance there is a shortcut method of approval providing all the criteria are met. You will still need to complete a logbook application on the usual T001 form, but if you have all the correct documentation for the vehicle, the safety cage paperwork can be completed on a Safety Cage Recognition Form. You will need to have the safety cage inspected so contact the Technical Department for the contact details of the nearest Roll Protection Adviser.

Not all countries have the same processes or apply the same criteria. The documentation available for vehicles differs significantly depending on where the vehicle’s home country. As a general rule, vehicles sourced from Europe and the UK should have all the required documentation available. If you are importing from the USA it is unlikely there will be any documentation available and you will need to make sure any documents made available by the seller will be acceptable here before buying. Vehicles imported from Japan can also be problematic and often there is no available accompanying documentation.

There are guidelines available on the MotorSport New Zealand website that are a good reference source and the staff in the Technical Department are always happy to advise. Just as importing a vehicle for use on the road, certain requirements that must be met. Always check with the overriding authority before pushing the ‘Buy’ button.

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