Importing cars and car parts from Japan to New Zealand

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In New Zealand, the love affair with Japanese cars runs deep. JapaneseCarTrade.com estimates that in September 2023 alone, 11,872 used Japanese cars were exported from Japan to New Zealand, making the market the second biggest importer of used Japanese cars only after the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

It’s clear that Japanese cars have carved a niche in the Kiwi automotive market, particularly due to their reputation for reliability, performance, and innovation. Similarly, the demand for Japanese car parts is on the rise, catering to the needs of enthusiasts and businesses alike. 

In this blog, we'll delve into the intricacies of importing JDM cars and car parts from Japan to New Zealand, offering valuable insights and how-to guides for businesses venturing into this lucrative market.

Understanding the New Zealand market for Japanese cars

Japanese cars have established a strong foothold in the New Zealand automotive landscape. A look at Focus2move’s ranking of the top 10 best-selling cars in New Zealand in 2023 shows Japanese names like Toyota, Suzuki, and Mitsubishi taking up five spots on the list, with the Toyota RAV4 model coming out on top.

This preference can be attributed to various factors, from Japanese cars’ fuel efficiency, advanced technology, and durability to infrastructural considerations like the New Zealand government’s relatively lax car import laws. Many used cars from Japan also arrive in excellent condition due to rapidly changing road regulations in the Japanese market, so Kiwi motorists can buy a Japanese import car that’s practically new at a fraction of the price of a brand-new direct import.

Moreover, the market for Japanese car parts is thriving, catering to repair shops, garages, and enthusiasts seeking authentic components.

Needless to say, this combination of a constant, steady supply of cars from Japan paired with local consumer trends means New Zealand’s car and auto part import businesses can expect a strong, continued demand for their services. Yet, whether you’re already in the Japanese car and car part import business or thinking of venturing into the field, you’ll need to ensure you have the right strategic planning and meticulous execution to succeed. 

Here are the key considerations to keep in mind as you prepare to enter the Japanese car import market:

1. Adhere to all legal and regulatory requirements of the New Zealand automotive industry.

Importing cars and auto parts into New Zealand entails adherence to stringent legal and regulatory requirements as laid out by the Ministry for Primary Industries. Businesses must familiarise themselves with import regulations governing vehicles and automotive components, such as the Import Health Standard for Vehicles, Machinery and Parts and the specific requirements of the New Zealand Customs Service.

Moreover, understanding New Zealand’s tariffs and taxes on imports is crucial to help you accurately calculate landed costs and maintain overall profitability for such high-value products and shipments.

2. Be thorough when sourcing cars and car parts from Japan for import.

Identifying reliable suppliers and dealers overseas is paramount in order to ensure the authenticity and quality of imported products, trickling down into the safety guarantees you can provide your Kiwi consumers. When sourcing car parts in particular, meticulous attention to detail is crucial to avoid counterfeit products while still ensuring compatibility with New Zealand vehicles.

Additionally, businesses must navigate language and cultural barriers during negotiations and transactions with Japanese counterparts. Be prepared to leverage local expertise or translation services when necessary, especially when discussing technical or industry-specific issues that may require niche or industry knowledge to be accurately translated and conveyed.

3. Meet standards set during any and all inspection, safety, and compliance checks.

Pre-shipment inspections in Japan and post-arrival checks in New Zealand are essential steps in the auto import process, especially for JDM cars tailored for a domestic Japanese market rather than international buyers.

Pre-shipment inspections verify the condition and authenticity of vehicles and car parts, providing assurance to buyers and regulatory authorities. Similarly, post-arrival shipping inspections in New Zealand ensure compliance with local road safety standards, safeguarding consumers and maintaining the integrity of the automotive market.

4. Hire a company capable of handling overweight or bulky shipment logistics (if necessary).

Once the sourcing phase is complete, attention turns to international logistics management and import shipping. Choosing the right shipping method from Japan to New Zealand is essential to meet budgetary constraints and delivery timelines, especially when shipping bulky, overweight, or oversized goods such as cars and motor vehicles. Additionally, navigating customs clearance procedures and documentation requirements demands careful attention to detail to avoid delays and penalties.

Hiring a shipping and logistics company that offers dedicated overweight or bulky logistics services will help to ensure your shipments will be properly handled throughout the international shipping process, especially if they have fragile parts. It also minimises the potential for shipping delays, which can affect overall delivery arrangements and customer satisfaction.

5. Partner with a reliable logistics provider for a smooth international shipping process.

Navigating the complexities of international shipping can be daunting, but with DHL Express, businesses can streamline their logistics operations and unlock market opportunities with confidence. 

Our express shipping and courier solutions ensure the timely import and delivery of cars and car parts from Japan to New Zealand, supported by a vast network spanning 220 countries and territories. Leveraging our expertise in customs clearance and logistics, businesses can also receive help in navigating the daunting web of tariffs, import taxes, and customs requirements necessary to facilitate the shipping process. All of these services are seamlessly integrated into our intuitive MyDHL+ platform, simplifying even the most complex requirements in order to help smoothen your business operations.

As businesses in New Zealand explore the potential of importing cars and car parts from Japan, partnering with DHL Express offers a competitive edge in the global marketplace. Sign up for a DHL Express business account to embrace the opportunity and let DHL Express be your trusted ally in navigating the complexities of international trade.