International Car Shipping

The Australian Government is continually updating the rules, regulations and duty rates for car imports. It is important that any advice received is current and that confirmation of any information or procedures is checked with the appropriate Authority in Australia.

Compliance To or Exemption From Australian Design Rules

Converting a vehicle to full Australian Safety and Emission Control Standards is very difficult and very costly, but is not required if one of the following conditions are met:

Authority from the Department of Infrastructure

A Motor Vehicle (including returning Australian Vehicles) must not under any circumstances arrive at an Australian Port without authorisation from the Administrator of Vehicle Standards, GPO 594, Canberra, ACT 2601, Tel: (02) 6274 7444, Fax: (02) 6274 6013.

Authorisation is obtained by meeting certain requirements and applying using an "Application for Approval to Import A Vehicle" form. The fee for this application is A$50 and is payable by Credit Card or an Australian Cheque. Application should be made at least 4 weeks prior to the shipment of the Car and an Australian postal address should be given on the application form where possible.

For further information regarding Import Approval, please visit our Import Approval page.

Rules & Regulations - FAQ's

Who Can Import a Vehicle?

  1. Residents

    Personal Import approval will only be given by the Department of Infrastructure to Migrants with full residency visas, or to Australian Nationals or to New Zealand Nationals, who are of driving age in Australia. You will be required to provide proof of Australian residency by way of a passport or visa. If you are a migrant you will be required to provide proof that you have been granted Permanent Resident Status in Australia. Temporary residents and Companies are not eligible. Vehicles built prior to 1st January 1989 are exempt from the Residency requirement.

  2. Visa Holders - Retirement (410) & Long Term / Business (457) Visa Holders

    With these types of visa, rather than a permanent residency visa, a personal import approval cannot normally be granted by the Department of Infrastructure until the importer has arrived and can provide evidence that they are now living in Australia and not in the originating country.

    A vehicle would have to be left behind in the originating country with a friend, relative or shipping company until approval is granted for it to be imported. Once approval is granted the vehicle can be shipped to Australia. Some time can be saved by applying for an approval from the originating country and providing the remaining pieces of documentation as soon as possible after arrival in Australia.

How Many Vehicles Can be Imported Under the Personal Import Scheme?

Only one vehicle built after 1st January 1989 per person per 12 months. This will change is November 2010 to one vehicle every 5 years.

What about Cars Built Prior to 1st January 1989?

The Australian Motor Vehicles Standards Act 1989 was amended on the 1st July 1992 with respect to older vehicles. Although an import approval is still required, no other criteria need be met i.e. the car would not have to be owned and used in the originating country for more than twelve calendar months.

Vehicles must have been built prior to 1st January 1989.

What if my Car has Air Conditioning?

All vehicles with air conditioning will need to be degassed before shipping and a receipt provided as evidence. If the vehicle has HFC (R134a) gas it is possible to leave the gas in but a "Precharged Equipment Licence" will be required which will incur a licence fee of A$400.17.

What Happens if I Import a Car Without Approval?

It is an offence to import a new or second-hand vehicle without approval. The penalties for this offence include a fine of up to A$13,200 in addition to having to re-export or scrap the vehicle. A complete vehicle cannot be imported for ‘breaking’ as ‘Parts’. Importation occurs when a vehicle is landed or brought within a port for the purpose of landing.

Approval will not be given once a vehicle has arrived at an Australian port.

What if the Vehicle was Manufactured in Australia?

Re-imported Australian Vehicles do require Import Approval even if they are fitted with a valid Australian Compliance Plate or have been previously Imported into and Registered in Australia. Under certain circumstances Duty, GST and, where applicable, Luxury Car Tax may still be payable but not Duty if not imported by the original exporter.

What about Low Volume Certification /SEVS / RAWS Import Schemes?

This is not normally feasible for individuals and is primarily intended for existing Australian Companies importing cars from North America and Japan.

What about Temporary Imports?

These are allowed if covered by a Carnet de Passages (like a passport for a car). The vehicle must not be sold in Australia and must be re-exported back to the originating country within 12 months.

Each country has its own Carnet issuing authority. In the UK, a Carnet can be applied for from the RAC Tel: 01454 208000.

Is there a Compulsory Ownership Period After Importation?

There is no minimum ownership period and a vehicle can be re-sold, at any time without restriction, after a personal import approval plate has been fitted and the vehicle has been registered.

Can I Import a Left-Hand Drive Vehicle?

The same rules apply to Left Hand Drive vehicles as for Right Hand Drive vehicles for issue of import approvals. Generally a Left Hand Drive vehicle can be registered in most states only if it is in excess of 30 years old.

For Any Further Information...

Please Contact Us for any further information regarding Car Import Rules and Regulations.

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