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CAR SHIPPING TO AUSTRALIA – RULES & REGULATIONS

The Australian Government is continually updating the rules, regulations and duty / tax rates, therefore much of what can be read online is out of date and obsolete.

PERSONAL IMPORT APPROVAL. Please read carefully the rules regarding personal import approval and 12 months UK use and ownership unless exempt if the vehicle is older than 1989. All vehicles require an import approval and this should be obtained prior to shipment (allow 4–6 weeks). A car should not be shipped until an import approval is granted by DIT Canberra.

AUTHORITY FROM THE DEPARTMENT OF INFRASTRUCTURE AND TRANSPORT (DIT). A vehicle should not arrive in Australia without an import approval from:

Administrator of Vehicle Standards,
GPO 594, Canberra,
ACT 2601,
Tel: (02) 6274 7444,
email: vimports@infrastructure.gov.au.

The fee is A$50 and is payable by credit card. An Australian postal address is required for the original of the approval to be sent to (emailed only until an Australian address can be provided).

REGISTER AND APPLY ONLINE FOR AN IMPORT APPROVAL. First register at: https://vis.infrastructure.gov.au/VISSitePages/Registration.aspx and then apply online at: https://vis.infrastructure.gov.au/_layouts/VISBranding/VISLogin.aspx

WHO CAN IMPORT A VEHICLE? Personal import approval will only be given to migrants with residency visas (those visas that allow permanent residency in the future such as a 410 or 457 visa) or to Australian nationals or to New Zealand nationals who are of driving age in Australia. Proof of Australian residency is required by way of a passport or visa. Married couples where only one person has residency can also import a vehicle even if the vehicle is UK registered in the non-resident’s name. Married couples who both have residency can normally import two vehicles even if both are UK registered in one person’s name. Companies, tourists and short term visa holders would not qualify a vehicle as a personal import.

CARS OLDER THAN 1989. Although an import approval is still required no other criteria need be met and the car would not have to be owned and used in the UK for more than 12 calendar months. Vehicles must have been manufactured prior to 1st January, 1989.

ADDITIONAL REQUIREMENTS. All import approvals are also subject to the criterion that the importer must be travelling to Australia to take up indefinite residence. An Australian national or resident cannot be visiting Australia temporarily just to meet and import a car and then return to the UK. Personal imports are limited to 1 car every 5 years. Applications must be made at any time before or within 6 months of the applicant’s arrival in Australia.

AUSTRALIAN RETURNING VEHICLES. Australian vehicles that have not been modified whilst overseas can be re-imported provided they are still fitted with an Australian compliance plate.

LEFT-HAND DRIVE VEHICLES. Registration of a LHD vehicle is not possible unless it is more than 30 years old (over 15 years old for Perth WA for bona fide immigrants).

IMPORTING WITHOUT APPROVAL. It is an offence to import a vehicle without approval and can be penalised with a fine and having to re-export or scrap the vehicle.

LOW VOLUME CERTIFICATION / SEVS / RAWS & ALL OTHER IMPORT SCHEMES. These alternative import methods are not normally feasible for shipments from the UK and are in place for race cars or specialist very low volume cars.

VEHICLE CUSTOMS VALUE GUIDE. The destination clearance agent can provide details of a local valuer in Australia for an indication of an ‘as landed’ value to enable an estimate of taxes to be ascertained. An initial guide can also be assessed from the Australian market values at:

www.redbook.com.au

www.carsales.com.au

DUTIES AND TAXES. There are no duty-free schemes or tax concessions. The ‘Import Duty’ and ‘Goods and Services Tax’ can sometimes be levied on the UK purchase price but more likely will be on an Australian ‘as landed’ value which can be as low as 50% of the actual Australian full market value. The rates, payable to Australian Customs at the Australian entry port, are:

  • vehicles up to 30 years old: 5% duty + 10% GST
  • vehicles over 30 years old and motorcycles: 0% duty + 10% GST

The duty is levied on the ‘customs value’ only. The GST is levied on the ‘customs value’ + the duty + the total cost of shipment to Australia figure.

LUXURY CAR TAX (LCT). This is an additional tax and is levied at a rate of 33% on vehicles with a GST-inclusive value in excess of A$65,094. LCT is only payable on the amount in excess of the GST-inclusive ‘break point’ and will only be levied in very few instances as the ‘break point’ only relates to cars with a customs value over about £32,500 / A$55,000.

PERSONAL VEHICLE IMPORT APPROVAL CERTIFICATE. The government department DIT issues the personal import approval (email notification). This approval notice will be required to clear customs when the car arrives at the Australian port and when the vehicle is presented for state roadworthy inspection. Once inspected an Endorsement of Compliance Certificate is provided which is sent to Niddrie Nameplates in Victoria who will issue a personal import sticker / plate.

ADDITIONAL STATE REGISTRATION AND SAFETY COMPLIANCE. Most modern cars do not require expensive modifications to bring them up to an acceptable roadworthy standard in Australia. Consult the State or Territory Registering Authority of where you intend to register your vehicle for their local requirements. The general modifications that are sometimes required do differ from state to state and checks are made for:

  • seat belts are to be fitted to all seat positions
  • child safety restraints anchorage points are to be fitted to each rear seating position
  • windscreens and side windows must not be heavily tinted
  • head restraints to the front seats must be built-in at manufacture
  • approved system alarm immobilisers must be fitted
  • rear vision wing mirrors must be normal flat and non-tinted mirrored glass and not convex glass
  • normally, speedometers in mph also have to display in kilometres per hour.

Not all states have all these requirements. Sydney and Brisbane can sometimes be stricter than Perth and Melbourne.

PERSONAL IMPORT STICKER / PLATE. Before a vehicle can be registered the completed Endorsement of Compliance Certificate issued by the state inspector / roadworthy department is sent to:

Niddrie Nameplates Pty Ltd
PO Box 106
Niddrie
VIC 3042

They will supply a personal import sticker / plate which is affixed under the bonnet or inside the door. Number plates are normally supplied by the registration authority. There is no minimum length of compulsory ownership and a vehicle can be re-sold at any time without restriction once a vehicle has been registered.

STAMP DUTY. In some instances there is stamp duty payable on the car value upon registration:

  • WA 2.75% and 6.5% on high value cars
  • NSW 3% and 5% on high value cars
  • QLD 3–4% depending on the number of engine cylinders
  • SA 4%
  • VIC 4%.

DRIVING INSURANCE / LICENCE. An immigrant’s UK driving licence is normally valid in Australia. Included in the state registration fee is third-party insurance which is the minimum requirement in Australia. It is strongly advised that a local insurance broker be contacted to upgrade this to fully comprehensive cover. Any UK ‘no claims bonus’ entitlement is valid in Australia for a reduction in the cost of driving insurance.

AIR CONDITIONING GAS. A signed statement can be provided that the vehicle is a one-off personal import to ensure exemption from the air conditioning regulations and this avoids having to degas the HFC air conditioning system of an imported Vehicle. Older (1980s) CFC air conditioning systems must be degassed and decommissioned prior to shipment.

ASBESTOS ZERO TOLERANCE. All importers have to sign a declaration that their vehicle does not contain asbestos. Asbestos was completely banned in the UK from 1990 and any vehicle manufactured after this should not contain any asbestos (although take care if any cheap after market imported brake pads have been fitted). For very old unrenovated classic cars it is worthwhile considering shipment without brake pads fitted as if of ancient manufacture these could contain asbestos. The Australian Authorities may make random checks and can send any vehicle being imported away for testing.

Full, printable information covering everything on this website and more, including a guide to prices and useful website and contact addresses, can be found in the Australia Info Pack (PDF).

AU | Key FactsAU | Guide to Shipping
AU | Cost CalculatorAU | Rules & Regulations
AU | Customs ValuationAU | Import Approval
AU | Costs on ArrivalAU | Vehicle Tax Rates
AU | Links & ContactsAU | Info Pack (PDF)