Home Importing a Car into Australia? What Do You Need to Know?

Importing a Car into Australia? What Do You Need to Know?

Posted by on March 14th, 2016.

tips for importing a car overseas

If you’re moving to Australia and planning to transport your car to the nation you might find that the process is more difficult than you first thought. Due to the restrictions and costs associated with transporting a car to Australia, it’s probably something best avoided unless you’re moving Down Under on a long term basis or have a particularly strong attachment to your vehicle. Here we highlight some of the key issues to consider and offer some top tips.

To give an indication of just how complex a process this can be, the Department of Infrastructure and Transport have produced a 35-page booklet called Importing Vehicles to Australia which must be read, in full, to ensure you comply with all the many rules and regulations.

Research is absolutely key here. A particularly useful source is the Australian Government Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development website. This site breaks down the requirements but also provides the necessary forms which need to be submitted in order to get the ball rolling.

There are specialist companies that can deal with the whole process for you, but while this may alleviate some stress, it could cost a great deal and is not necessary so long as you’re thorough and strictly adhere to the guidelines.

  1. Do you NEED to import your car?

The first question you should be asking is do you really need to import your car? If you’re only staying in Australia for a relatively short time it would be far easier, and cheaper, to purchase a second-hand vehicle once in the nation.

Even if you’re planning a permanent move you may wish to consider selling your vehicle or leaving it behind. Only cars that are irreplaceable in terms of value, model or sentiment may be worth importing into Australia. Before embarking on the research phase of the process take the time to really think about whether the car is worth the hassle.

  1. Research, then research your research. Then ask someone in the know

If you’re set on moving your car to Australia, the first thing you must establish is whether your vehicle is actually eligible for importing. This is quite a complicated process, but there is a handy quiz on the website referenced above which should make things a little easier. Check out the Eligibility Assessment quiz here.

Extensive research will also be required to find out:

  • The costs involved
  • Timeframes for receiving a permit and other arrangements
  • The documentation required
  • The risks

If you have a friend or contact who has already gone through the process of importing their vehicle into Australia it’s a good idea to discuss the process in depth with them. There is a high likelihood that they will have picked up several useful tips and tricks which could make things easier for you.

If you don’t have a useful personal contact, do a bit of research in expat forums, pose a few questions and see if you can find someone willing to help and share their experiences.

  1. Applying and Receiving Approval

Once you’ve established that you can import your car and you’ve done all the necessary research, you’ll need to submit an online application (postal applications are also available). Once you’ve submitted your application keep an eye on your emails as the department may seek additional information from you before your application can proceed.

The time it takes from submission to approval varies with each individual case, but making sure you have followed all guidelines should reduce the time and help you avoid delays due to mistakes.

  1. What are the costs?

After your vehicle has been approved for importing into Australia the Department of Customs then imposes a levy on the car. This is calculated using two components: Duty and Goods and Services Tax (GST).

Vehicle Type Duty   GST
Vehicles over 30 years old and motorcycles  0%  10%
New and used vehicles up to 30 years old  10%  10%
Four wheel drive off road/commercial vehicles   5%  10%


Duty is calculated as a percentage of the vehicle’s CURRENT value.

Goods and Services Tax (GST) is calculated as 10% of the customs value of the car (car value + duty).

Using the example of an everyday vehicle, this is how duty and GST works:

Let’s say you bought your car for £10,000 but its value has depreciated. Customs will calculate duty based on the vehicle’s current value rather than its original value. For argument’s sake let’s say customs valued the vehicle at A$15,000, which at an (AUD/GBP) exchange rate of 0.51 equates to around £7,650.

The Duty would be 10% of the customs value of A$15,000, so A$1,500.

After the duty has been calculated it is used to determine the GST. Goods and Services tax is 10% of the value of the vehicle plus the duty. So in this example, GST = 10% x $16,500 which is $1,650.

So for this example, the total cost to import your regular vehicle would be:

Duty      = $1,500

GST        = $1,650

Total      = $3,150 (approx. £1,606 GBP)

  1. Thoroughly Clean to Avoid Delays

Upon gaining approval to import your car it will need to be sent to customs for a thorough examination before it enters the country. Australia is notoriously stringent when it comes to protecting against the accidental importation of bio-organic materials that could threaten the ecosystem.

To avoid long delays and to prevent your vehicle remaining in customs for an unknown period of time, clean your car with extra vigour. It would be advisable, although not necessarily cost effective, to employ a professional cleaning team to make absolutely sure you are complying with Australia’s strict regulations.


If, after seeing how much work goes into the process, you’re still intent on bringing your vehicle with you to Australia, following these top tips and taking the time to do thorough research can make a complicated undertaking feel a bit more manageable.


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