Import Cars in Australia through Personal Import Scheme
This scheme is covered by Regulation 13 of the Motor Vehicle Standards Regulations 1989.
The purpose of the scheme
The personal imports scheme allows migrants settling in Australia, and expatriate Australian citizens returning permanently to Australia after a long period overseas, to bring their personal road vehicle with them, where the vehicle has been owned and used for a period of 12 months or longer.
The personal import scheme only covers individuals. Companies and/or corporations are not eligible to import a vehicle under this scheme.
Change of residence
Applicants must have lived in a foreign country (or several foreign countries) throughout a qualifying period of 12 months prior to arriving in Australia. Applicants must now intend to become an Australian permanent resident and remain in Australia indefinitely.
Temporary visitors such as foreign tourists, posted diplomatic personnel and posted military personnel are not eligible.
Mandatory criteria apply under the scheme. These criteria, outlined below, are strictly enforced. If you fail to meet the criteria, you will not be eligible to import a vehicle under the scheme.
Ownership of the vehicle
Applicants must satisfy each of the following ownership requirements. You must:
- own the vehicle when submitting the application; and
- have acquired ownership of the vehicle while overseas; and
- have owned the vehicle while overseas for a continuous period of at least 12 months. This is the “qualifying period”. The qualifying period must have occurred immediately before you (permanently) arrived in Australia.
Use of the vehicle
The vehicle should have been available to you for use as transport. This means that the vehicle must have been available to be driven by you, at all times during the 12 month qualifying period. Evidence to establish availability would include that the vehicle is registered (in your name) and garaged (proximate to your residence) throughout the 12 month qualifying period, so that you could, if needed, drive the vehicle. In addition, evidence that you must have held an appropriate licence to drive the vehicle overseas would assist in confirming that the vehicle was available for use.
Citizenship and visa requirements
Applicants must fall into one of the following categories. You must:
- be an Australian citizen; or
- have applied to become an Australian citizen; or
- be an Australian permanent resident (e.g. hold a permanent visa); or
- have applied to become an Australian permanent resident (e.g. applied for a permanent visa); or
- hold a visa that allows you to apply to become an Australian permanent resident (e.g. hold a temporary visa that allows you to apply for a permanent visa); or
- otherwise be entitled to remain in Australia indefinitely (e.g. is a New Zealand citizen).
Date of application
Applications may be made before you arrive in Australia if you have already met the qualifications of the scheme under which you are applying. Alternatively, applications may be made up to 6 months after you arrive in Australia.
Age of applicants
Applicants must be of an age to hold an Australian licence to drive the vehicle.
Limit of 1 vehicle every 5 years
Applicants may only import one vehicle under the Personal Imports Scheme every 5 years.
How to apply
Applications may be made before you arrive in Australia (although you must still meet the 12 month qualifying period prior to applying). Alternatively, applications may be made up to 6 months after you arrive in Australia.
To apply for a Vehicle Import Approval under the Personal Imports Scheme, you should provide the following to the Department:
- A completed IO1—Personal Import Vehicle application form and should include the year, make, model and vehicle identification number (VIN).
- A $50 application fee. Payment options are set out in the application form (credit card, cheque or money order are accepted).
- Purchase document (invoice or receipt) for the vehicle in your name.
- A copy of your international or overseas driver’s licence.
- A copy of the registration documents for the vehicle (for the qualifying period), in your name.
- Applicants importing a vehicle from Japan should also provide:
- A copy of the Japanese de-registration certificate, in your name
- A copy of the Japanese parking approval, in your name
- A copy of the Japanese compulsory tax and insurance documents
- A statement of travel prepared by you, listing any international travel you undertook during the qualifying period. In particular, the statement is to set out any absences from your country of residence. If travel was for business reasons, you should supply a letter to that effect from your employer.
- A copy of your passport (this includes a copy of every page, including blank pages). If you hold dual passports, you should provide a copy of both passports.
Applicants should be able to substantiate their intention to remain in Australia indefinitely by supplying a selection of the following documents, up to a value of 100 points. The documents provided should be as recent as possible for the purposes of supporting your application.
You should supply at least one of the primary documents:
- Your employment details, such as a letter from your Australian employer.
- Your resignation from employment in your former country of residence.
- A rental agreement/purchase agreement for your residential property in Australia (i.e. longstanding holiday or second homes do not count).
- The sale of your residential property in your former country of residence.
- The cancellation of your residential rental property in your former country of residence.
- The shipment of your household goods to Australia.
- The enrolment of your children in an Australian school.
- Your new Australian telephone / electricity accounts.
In addition, foreign citizens settling in Australia may substantiate an intention to remain in Australia indefinitely, by providing evidence that they have recently:
- Applied for an Australian Tax File Number.
- Registered with Medicare.
- Applied for Australian medical insurance.
- Applied to open an Australian bank account.
- Applied for an Australian driver’s licence.
These lists are a guide. You may also be required to provide further evidence, including:
- A copy of the deregistration certificate, from the previous owner of the vehicle.
- A copy of insurance documents for the vehicle.
- Copies of other documents that support your purchase of the vehicle (such as bank statements, receipts from vendors).
- Copies of other documents that show you used the vehicle (such as receipts for any maintenance or repairs made to the vehicle).
Documents not in English require a translation certified by a member of an accredited agency such as the National Accreditation Authority of Translators and Interpreters.
You may be required to submit original documentation (not photocopies) to confirm eligibility under the scheme.
If you believe you meet the scheme requirements above, but are missing certain documents, please provide a covering letter to explain. Your application may be considered with discretion, however only where a clear case has been made.
If your application to import a vehicle is approved under this scheme, you will receive four (4) Vehicle Import Approval documents that are required by other government agencies. You will receive advice along with your approval which will outline what to do with these documents. Please read this advice carefully.