Importing 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 mean it will automatically comply with regulations here in New Zealand.
We have worked through a lot of these imports and know what types of vehicles are suitable and the pitfalls. While that car might look cool and a ‘must have,’ realistically, where can you use it? Sure, you may be able to get into an “all-comers” class but these aren’t at every event. Most circuits in New Zealand also don’t have the safety features required for some vehicles such as Formula 1 cars and IndyCars after a certain date.
Below are 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.
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.
If it is agreed the vehicle is suitable you will need to provide an FIA Technical or ASN (National Sporting Authority e.g. Motorsport Australia, Motorsport UK, etc.) passport or logbook. You will also need to supply the Homologation Certificate or prove that the safety structure is approved by an ASN. If you manage to get these and they relate to the vehicle, great, it only takes a short time to add the vehicle to MotorSport New Zealand’s system.
If you don’t have these documents we need to go down the route of proving what the safety structure is made from and if the construction is outside MotorSport New Zealand’s regulations, an Engineering Report indicating that the safety structure is suitable for use in that type of vehicle is required.
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.
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 register your vehicle on MotorSport Online, but if you have all the correct documentation for the vehicle, the safety cage paperwork can be completed on a Safety Cage Recognition online. 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.
Importing Motorsport Vehicle for use on NZ Roads
If you’re importing a motorsport vehicle for use on NZ Roads, such as a rally car, there are extra steps you need to take in your due diligence. The legal requirements for road-going motorsport vehicles are set out by the New Zealand Transport Agency and are very strict. Please contact the MotorSport New Zealand Technical Department before importing a motorsport vehicle that will be used on New Zealand roads.
These vehicles will require documentation to support compliance so they can be registered for road use in New Zealand. Documents required here are proof of registration and de-registrations from the previous country, receipts to support the sale, and proof of correct ownership from the country it is exported from as well. On top of these requirements, the vehicle will need LVVTA Certification which may prove quite difficult and expensive as New Zealand has quite stringent requirements compared to some other countries.
Get in touch with us BEFORE you buy!
Always check with the overriding authority before pushing the ‘Buy’ button. Feel free to contact MotorSport New Zealand’s Technical Department for that extra piece of mind!