New Zealandís Maf A Beginners Guide To Used Car Inspection


Used cars -- especially Japanese used cars -- are popular in New Zealand. As a matter of fact, New Zealand ranks among the top ten destinations for pre-owned vehicles from the Japanese domestic market. Well, if you've been a used car exporter for some time now, you probably know about the tons of clearances needed to get your vehicle inside Kiwi country. As for the uninitiated, you might want to know a few basic things about this little thing called MAF Clearance and how it relates to the importation of used cars into New Zealand.

What is MAF? MAF stands for the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry and basically it's the government agency in New Zealand that deals with agriculture, forestry and biosecurity. You might be wondering -- what do they have to do with used cars? Well, Kiwis are a bit particular about what stuff gets in their borders, especially when it can affect the country's main export industry -- agriculture. These imported products (which include used cars) might carry potentially harmful animals, plants or substances. The MAF officials usually call these risk goods.

Pass or Fail? MAF has set specific guidelines regarding the entry of used cars in New Zealand but basically there are only two things you need to remember. First, the car has to be given a MAF biosecurity clearance in order to get in. Second, if the car earns a failing grade in the eyes of the MAF inspector, it has to go through treatment at a decontamination facility or else go back wherever it came from. Bottom line is: if you're clean you're in. If you're not you're out.

O Where Art Thou Contaminants? What exactly do those MAF guys look for when they inspect the vehicle? First on the list are animals or animal parts, most especially those that are small and a bit tricky to find (insects are prime examples, if your car harbors them then it's decon time for your car). Plants or plant products are a no-no. Even a small piece of twig will get your car into trouble. Lastly, they look for soil, water or any agent that may potentially carry a contaminant.

Pre or Post? Keep in mind that the inspection can be done during pre-shipment (in the exporting country) or post-shipment (upon arrival in New Zealand). If you want to do it before shipment, make sure it's ten days prior to leaving port. If you want to do it upon arrival, inspection must be done within 12 hours of discharge at the port of entry or within 12 hours of being devanned from a container.

Can I See Some Identification? Make sure your car is accompanied with documentation that contains identification (chassis number), make/model, origin, shipment details and sufficient contact information of both the consignor and consignee. If your car has undergone pre-shipment inspection, the official inspection clearance must be included, too.

Parting Shot. Knowledge is power. But learning the basics alone won't always get you out of a tight situation. So do your homework. Learn more about MAF any way you can. You never know, a little information can make all the difference.