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 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 4–6 weeks). A car should not be shipped until an Import approval is granted by DIT Canberra.
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
- the vehicle was manufactured prior to 1st January 1989
- the vehicle was originally sold in Australia and still has its Australian compliance plate fitted.
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,
Tel: (02) 6274 7444,
Authorisation is obtained by meeting certain requirements and applying using the "Application for Approval to Import a Vehicle" forms or online. The fee 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.
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 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 cannot qualify a vehicle as a personal import.
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. This scenario is very rare and approval is normally always granted initially after a few extra questions.
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 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).
TEMPORARY IMPORTS. A Carnet de Passages from the RAC in the UK (tel: 08000 468375) allows importation for up to 12 months without payment of taxes or compliance with import regulations. The vehicle must not be sold in Australia and must be re-exported back to the UK.
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 except for the odd very high end car and even then the costs tend to be prohibitive.
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:
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 vehicles with a GST-inclusive value in excess of A$59,133. 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 £35,000 / A$53,000.
PERSONAL VEHICLE IMPORT APPROVAL CERTIFICATE. DIT issues the personal import approval which comprises 4 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
- 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 also 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 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 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.
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).