Shipping car from USA to NZ and Australia

I am in the beginning stages of planning a possible 1-2 year trip to NZ and Australia.

I have been researching importing cars into NZ but am finding it to be highly unlikely due to the regulations I am reading. I am not looking to move there but rather use my vehicle to travel through the country on a kind of overland trip. I am finding importing a LHD vehicle into NZ rather difficult but I assume there has to be a way for those simply traveling through the country. I have a mate looking into the Australian requirements so I guess this post would be geared more towards getting my vehicle into NZ more than anything. Does a valid Carnet allow me to travel to these countries without much issue?

Any info would be awesome on this and first hand experience would be even better. Below are some pics of my rig.





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Thank you! Im actually in the process of going down the rabbit hole and found this as well. But it still says nothing about LHD vehicles but I am sure they are permitted on a temporary basis. Thank goodness for the Carnet system it really provides overlanders a method to get in and out of countries without very much BS.

Paddler Ed

I'd be checking how long you can get a visa for as well; that may shape how long you are doing your trip for and if it's worth bringing the car over.

Tourist visas over 3 months are possible, but are more bureaucratic to get hold of for Australia; check this website for more details. Here's the info on bringing the car into Australia, but it gets a bit of a mess with personal imports for permanent residents/citizens.

You can bring in the car on a carnet, and that's not a problem being LHD. But you will have to pay quarantine inspections fees for both NZ and Australia, as well as shipping. No ideas of cost on that. I've seen quite a few LHDs on my travels (mainly German) and some Brits (so RHD on the whole). Worth putting a sticker on the back saying Left Hand Drive if you do bring it over so that people are aware.
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Definitely doable. We've had two (different) Swiss families through here. Both in their own LHD's, both heading to the land of Oz. The above PDF pretty much spells it out for here (NZ). Quarantine is strict. Make sure it is spotless before loading. Will save time/money. Whatever time you think it will take to do quarantine/roadworthyness, double it. It will remove the stress component! Quarantine at the port, then to VTNZ for road worthy (in your case WOF). Last guys we had here were told they were going to have to change their headlights! Ended up putting a piece of race tape over the offending 'shining right' part. RORO to OZ isn't a viable option because you can't ship anything in the vehicle. Has to be removed and shipped seperate. So container it is. Because of the different rules state to state in Oz, the preferred landing point was Melbourne. Something to do with not having to do vehicle inspections? In both cases they shipped Auckland/Melbourne. Shortest/cheapest.

If you could somehow sneak a porti potty in there you could get a 'self containment cert'. If you can swing it, the $55 fee massively increase's where you are allowed to camp overnight. NZ now has a huge problem with 'freedom campers' (read big 'pollution' problems!). Especially in the touristy areas. Having the cert will really open up your options to free camping spots. Unlike the big red planet to our left, we is just a couple little islands. Most land is either privately or .gov owned. Can't just disappear into the hills and pitch your tent. We just don't have the real estate for that.
Thanks for all the information it was very helpful. I am very familiar with NZ as we were down there just last year and we rented a camper van without a porti potty (bad mistake), but TBH we didnt run into many issues finding camp spots. We traveled through the entire country in that camper van but TBH most of the time we did stay a a proper established campsite, I agree it was somewhat difficult finding those free camping spots. I may take out my back seats and put a porti potty in it if need be, by doing this you really think I could get the "self containment" permit a Subaru?!?!?!?! I am also a bit worried about my aftermarket modifications, auxiliary lights, and 4" lift. I have a mate in Rotorua and he tells me I should be ok with all of my modifications in NZ. So by spotless, do you mean REALLY clean? NO soil, mud, or dirt anywhere?

For Australia I am a bit worried because I know they are a lot more strict on aftermarket modifications. I will have to research Australia much more as I have never visited this country and am not 100% up to par with all of their laws.
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I really appreciate all the insight it is VERY helpful! I plan on getting working tourist visas while in both countries...hopefully! :) I bookmarked the listed sites so I appreciate that! I am ok with the fees but its extremely vague how much I will really have to be paying. I plan on contacting an import company and also doing more research online. I do plan on contacting government entities in both countries to make sure all my ducks are in a row before venturing down. Great idea on the LHD sticker.
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Expedition Leader
I don't think they are as strict about modifications on a temporary import vehicle - just when you are doing an actual registration.

Nice scooby - what lift did you use? Any build thread?


Expedition Leader
Well, found the answer - ADF 4" lift for the SH model Forester.

I like the way the original plastic bumper covers are cut to allow the new bumpers to fit with just a straight top edge - looks clean and makes it easier to build. Where are those from? Have a friend who is looking for some...
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Paddler Ed

If you're under 30 then working holiday visas are the go, if not, no good as an option.

As the vehicle is a temporary import, modifications are fine.

With regards to cleaning, yes NO mud, soil or bio matter anywhere, unless you want to pay cleaning fees.


Just talked to NZMCA (they who make the self containment rules) and no, Wagbag type toilets are't acceptable. Would need to be a porti potti sort of a deal. The local vehicle cert guy says if you are on a visitors visa/Carnet deal modifications 'should' be ok. Four inch lift is stretching it, but he couldn't even tell me who to ring for confirmation. NZTA is the .gov department responsible. Should be fine.


Hi Mate - Cool rig! A few learnings from when we took our motorbikes to Oz in 2009, AFAIK this is still current:

Despite what some info on the web says the only way you can temporarily import a vehicle into Oz is on a Carnet. Then if you land it in Sydney you just need the quarantine inspection & as long as you are road legal in your home country you are good to go. No roadworthy/technical inspections required, your mods will be fine. No insurance required. As mentioned above - get the car stupidly clean. Other states in Oz have different rules though - it's a bit of a mess, if going again I'd just make sure I was legal in the state I landed in (as above - easiest in NSW) then not worry about the rest.

NZ you can get into with a customs deposit rather than a Carnet but since you'll have a Carnet for Oz just use that. Good idea to check out the situation with your mods as you do need a 'warrant of fitness' technical inspection to get legal here. Not sure on the details with a temp imported vehicle but for a local vehicle with your suspension mods you would need a $700 LVVTA modification inspection & certification in addition to the WOF. Same as Oz, get the car stupidly clean for quarantine inspection. No dirt anywhere, I'd get it up on a ramp or lift & clean underneath thoroughly. The problem is that if they deem it to be dirty, you can't just go into the port & clean it more yourself, you have to pay the approved contractors to do it for you -$$$ & a lot of dicking around.

Personally in that car I would not bother with installing a ****ter just to meet NZ's 'self contained' regs unless you wanted to do it anyway. Search out some of the 4x4 routes & you will be able to camp well away from the crowds. Just take a spade & bury your ****. While there are a few nice free campsites where you need a self contained cert, most of them are nothing special & they are often jam packed with cheapskate backpackers trying to save a $. When you're close to towns it's better to stump up the $15-20 & get a site in a paid campground with facilities IMHO. The van rental companies actually put cartridge toilets in some quite small wagons to meet the regs, but they are a PITA to use so some tourists will have the toilet but still **** in the bushes.

Shoot me a PM when you get near Rotorua, would love to meet up for a beer/BBQ & check out your setup. Sounds like you have buddy here anyway but if you do need a spot to camp you are welcome at my place. If you need any advice on NZ routes just ask, I've done a fair bit of offroad & backroads travel on both Islands.



New member
Hi, I go by the name of kiwifoz on, and I've also seen your build on FB, YT etc. Sweet Foz! If you ever make it to the South Island, feel free to hit me up! PM me here or on, or join the Subaru Forester Owners New Zealand Group on Facebook. I'd be keen to see your truck in the flesh for sure, and so would a few others. I'm based in Christchurch in the South Island so you'll almost certainly come past.

As far as importing a LHD car goes, you already seem to have all the paperwork sorted. It's relatively easy to do in NZ by all accounts, I personally know a few people who own LHD American classic cars here. It's even easier for you, as you just need a temporary permit - you're not intending to register the vehicle here.

If you did intend to register the vehicle, you'd run into two problems. Primarily, our laws ONLY permit the importation of a LHD model if the vehicle was not manufactured in RHD, or was not sold in NZ in RHD. As the Forester is actually one of the best-selling and most common vehicles in the country, you'e be out of luck on that count.
Secondly, unfortunately your front bumper is not legal as far as registration in NZ is concerned. You can only fit a bullbar to a class MC (light 4wd, GVM < 2500 kg) vehicle in NZ if it meets Australian Design Rules (ADR) for airbag detonation. As your bar is a one-off, it hasn't been certified to these standards and so wouldn't be compliant. Everything else on your car is okay, except that the lift, rear bumper and larger tyres would need an engineer's certification (~$400NZ) to be passed for a warrant of fitness.

But as far as a temporary permit goes, AFAIK you're okay without having to meet those above criteria.

Anyway, join our group on FB, or send me a PM or something, and I'd be happy to help (and come 4wding when you're here).

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