CAR SHIPPING TO AUSTRALIA – RULES & REGULATIONS
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The Australian Government is continually updating the rules, regulations and duty / tax rates. 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.
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 4–8 weeks). A car cannot be collected from the Australian port without an Import Approval.
COMPLIANCE TO AUSTRALIAN DESIGN RULES. Converting a vehicle to full Australian Safety and Emission Control Standards is virtually impossible but is not required if one of the following conditions are met:
- the vehicle has been ‘owned and used’ for a minimum period of 12 calendar months immediately before the applicant travels to Australia
- the vehicle was manufactured prior to 1st January 1989
- the vehicle was originally manufactured or sold in Australia and still has its Australian compliance sticker / plate fitted.
AUTHORITY FROM THE DEPARTMENT OF INFRASTRUCTURE AND TRANSPORT (DIT). A motor vehicle should not arrive at an Australian port without authorisation (an import approval) from:
Administrator of Vehicle Standards,
GPO 594, Canberra,
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 6–8 weeks prior to shipment and an Australian postal address should be given on the application form. An import application requires various pieces of copy documentation including a copy passport ID (photo page) which must be certified as being true and correct by an approved professional.
WHO CAN IMPORT A VEHICLE? Personal import approval will only be given by the DIT to migrants with full residency visas 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. A migrant would be required to provide proof that they have or will be granted permanent resident status in Australia. Vehicles manufactured before 1989 are exempt from the residency requirement. Married couples where only one person has residency can sometimes import one vehicle even if the vehicle is UK registered in the non-resident's name.
RETIREMENT (410) AND LONG TERM / BUSINESS (457) VISA HOLDERS – with other types of visa, rather than a permanent residency visa or nationality, a personal import approval can sometimes involve answering additional questions from DIT regarding taking up permanent residence in Australia and if the DIT is not satisfied with the reply then approval may not be granted until the importer has arrived and can provide evidence that they are now living in Australia and not in the UK. A vehicle would have to be left behind in the UK with a friend or relative which involves them having to deliver the car for shipping or it can be left with us / the shipping company and storage paid until approval is granted. Once approval is given a few weeks later then the vehicle can be shipped to Australia.
CARS OLDER THAN 1989. 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 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, i.e. Australian nationals or residents cannot be visiting Australia temporarily just to meet and import a car. Personal imports newer than 1988 owned and used for 12 months first are limited to 1 car every 5 years. Applications must be made within 6 months of the applicants arrival in Australia.
WHAT ABOUT TEMPORARY IMPORTS? These are only allowed if covered by a Carnet de Passages from the RAC (tel: 08000 468375) in the UK which is valid for 1 year from the date of issue. The vehicle must not be lent, sold, hired, disposed of etc. in Australia and must be re-exported back to the UK within 12 months of the date of issue. The vehicle owner must remain in Australia with the car for the period.
IMPORTING WITHOUT APPROVAL. It is an offence to import a new or second-hand vehicle without approval and can be penalised with a fine of up to A$13,200 as well as having to re-export or scrap the vehicle. A complete vehicle cannot be imported for ‘breaking’ as ‘parts’. If a car arrives at the Australian port without an approval then it cannot be imported until one is obtained and port storage costs would be incurred. Only one vehicle manufactured after 1988 per person per 12 month period can be imported. Married couples can normally import two vehicles even if both are UK Registered in one person's name.
AUSTRALIAN MANUFACTURED VEHICLES. Australian vehicles that have not been modified whilst overseas can be re-imported provided they are still fitted with a valid Australian compliance plate although an import approval is still required.
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) or unless it is first converted to right-hand drive.
LOW VOLUME CERTIFICATION / SEVS / RAWS IMPORT SCHEMES. This is not normally feasible for shipments from the UK except for very high-end cars and the costs are prohibitive.
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 GSTis 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 almost all vehicles with a current GST-inclusive value in excess of A$59,133 (figure set annually by the Australian Taxation Office). 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 £35,500 / A$53,500.
PERSONAL VEHICLE IMPORT APPROVAL CERTIFICATE. DIT issues the personal import approval which comprises four copies. One copy clears the vehicle from the port of entry with the Australian Customs Service. The remaining copies are signed by the State Registering Authority at the time of inspection and then one is kept by them, one allows you to obtain a personal import sticker / plate and the other is for your own records.
ADDITIONAL STATE REGISTRATION AND SAFETY COMPLIANCE. Most modern cars do not require expensive modifications to bring them up to an acceptable roadworthy standard. 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 (differs from state to state and normally more cost effective to have carried out in Australia) are:
- 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 and not after market clip-on types
- approved system alarm immobilisers must be fitted
- rear vision wing mirrors must be normal flat and non-tinted mirrored glass and not convex glass
- speedometers normally to be in kilometres per hour only.
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 is registered the 3rd copy of the import approval is sent to the company listed who 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 after importation 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%.
Further information about the rules and regulations, plus a guide to prices and useful website and contact addresses, can be found in the Australia Info Pack (PDF).