Import Cars Process in Australia

Process of Importing a Car in Australia

There are several steps to importing a road vehicle:

  1. Obtain a Vehicle Import Approval (VIA) from the Vehicle Safety Standards Branch of the Department of Infrastructure and Transport.  Phone: 1800 815 272 (Australia only) or +61 2 6274 7506, Fax +61 2 6274 6013, email Vimports@infrastructure.gov.au. Further information can be obtained by downloading the Importing Vehicles to Australia (VSB10) brochure from the Department of Infrastructure and Transport.
  2. Pay customs duty, Goods and Services Tax (GST) and luxury car tax (LCT) where applicable and obtain customs clearance at the port of entry.
  3. Obtain quarantine clearance from the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry (DAFF) Biosecurity after the road vehicle has arrived at the port of entry.  For more information visit the DAFF Biosecurity website on daff.gov.au/aqis

A road vehicle as defined in the Motor Vehicle Standards Act 1989 (MVSA) is a road motor vehicle being a motor vehicle designed solely and principally for the transport of people, animals or goods, a road trailer, or a partly completed road motor vehicle. For detailed information on partly completed road motor vehicles refer to Australian Customs Notice (ACN) 2001/06 Guidelines for Entry of Partially Dismantled Vehicles.

To gain Customs clearance for an imported road vehicle you must hold a valid VIA for that road vehicle.  It is an offence under the MVSA to import, sell or present new or used imported road vehicles to the Australian market for the first time unless those road vehicles meet the National Standards.

 What to do

You may make arrangements to transport your road vehicle to Australia after you are issued with a valid VIA.  Once you have initiated transport of your road vehicle to Australia you may lodge an import declaration with Customs either:

  • electronically; or
  • by document at a Customs counter; or
  • you may use the services of a licensed customs broker to deal with Customs requirements on your behalf.  

Your road vehicle may be entered into:

  • home consumption; or
  • a licensed warehouse.

Duty/GST and other charges must be paid when your road vehicle is entered for home consumption.  LCT must be paid or deferred if your road vehicle has a customs value above the LCT threshold or the fuel efficient LCT threshold, unless an exemption applies.  Information relating to GST and LCT can be found at the Australian Taxation Office website: http://www.ato.gov.au/

If your road vehicle has a value below the import entry threshold (AUD1000) it may be cleared by Customs by lodging a self-assessed clearance (SAC) declaration.  A VIA is required regardless of the value of the road vehicle.

Once all duty, taxes and other charges are paid (if applicable), and Customs and DAFF Biosecurity requirements are met, an authority to deal (ATD) will be issued for your road vehicle to be delivered into home consumption.  All ATDs for road vehicles are issued subject to the condition that you have a valid VIA to take delivery of your road vehicle into home consumption.

Prior to making a decision to import a road vehicle you should take into account the likely costs you may incur during the importation process such as:

  • freight and insurance (for the transport of the goods to Australia);
  • customs duties, GST and LCT, if applicable;
  • storage and delivery charges;
  • logistic services providers’ charges;
  • customs brokers’ charges;
  • entry processing charges;
  • steam cleaning for quarantine purposes;
  • other wharf and transport charges; and
  • any costs involved in having your road vehicle meet State or Territory registration and insurance requirements.

Delivery of your road vehicle into home consumption will only be authorised where Customs and AQIS clearance requirements are met.

 What not to do

It is important that you do not initiate importation of your road vehicle until after a VIA is issued to you.  Without a valid VIA you should NOT make arrangements to transport your road vehicle to Australia.

If your road vehicle is shipped to Australia before you have received a VIA, and/or your road vehicle arrives before your application is processed, you may incur significant storage costs and other charges (not Customs charges) until Customs clears your road vehicle.

Customs will only issue an ATD when you have a valid VIA for your road vehicle.  The owner of any imported road vehicle that is not or will not be issued with a VIA may incur significant storage costs until the owner makes arrangements for the road vehicle to be:

  • exported at the owner’s expense; or
  • destroyed at the owner’s expense.

Destruction will take place under Customs supervision.

Vehicles with Airconditioners or a Refrigerant System (Pre-charged Equipment)

Road vehicles equipped with an airconditioner or a refrigerant system (known as pre-charged equipment) may be subject to the provisions of the Ozone Protection and Synthetic Greenhouse Gas Management Act 1989 (OPSGGM Act).  Specific requirements have been established by the Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities.  Further details can be obtained at www.environment.gov.au/atmosphere/ozone

Customs cannot allow road vehicles with pre-charged equipment to be delivered into home consumption unless the owner holds a Pre-charged Equipment Licence (Refer to Customs (Prohibited Imports) Regulations 1956).

 Quarantine

Prior to a road vehicle being released from Customs control, DAFF Biosecurity inspects all road vehicles for cleanliness on arrival in Australia.

If you are importing a used road vehicle you are required to lodge a Quarantine Entry at a DAFF Biosecurity regional office.  You should also contact the DAFF Biosecurity regional office in the port at which your road vehicle will be arriving, to arrange an inspection.  You are responsible for all DAFF Biosecurity charges. 

 Valuation

For information on how the customs value of imported goods is determined please refer to Customs Valuation of Imported Goods Fact Sheet.

For additional information on how the customs value of your imported road vehicle is determined please refer to Customs valuation of imported road vehicles

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