Importing a motor vehicle

Key points

  • Before importing any motor vehicle, including a disassembled or partly completed road motor vehicle, you should contact the Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development.
  • Do not make arrangements to transport your road vehicle to Australia until you have been issued with a valid Vehicle Import Approval (VIA). It is an offence to ship a road vehicle before obtaining a VIA.
  • Apply for a VIA through the Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development. Information is available about Importing vehicles into Australia.
  • A VIA is required regardless of the value of the road vehicle.
  • When you have started transport of your road vehicle to Australia, you must lodge an Import Declaration with us.
  • Your vehicle will not be cleared from customs control until you have provided a valid VIA for that road vehicle to us and you have paid customs duty, Goods and Services Tax (GST), Luxury Car Tax (LCT) and other charges, where applicable. More information on payment of LCT is below.
  • It is your responsibility to ensure each vehicle is clean and free of contamination of biosecurity concern, internally and externally, before it arrives in Australia. See the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources website for information about the biosecurity requirements of importing motor vehicles, motor cycles, machinery and tyres.
  • If your road vehicle is shipped to Australia before you receive a VIA, and/or it arrives before your VIA application is processed, you might incur storage costs and other charges (not our charges) until the vehicle is cleared. If you do not have a VIA, your vehicle will be exported or destroyed at your expense.

Before importing a road vehicle, consider the costs of importation such as:

  • freight and insurance (for the transport of the goods to Australia)
  • customs duties, GST and LCT
  • storage and delivery charges
  • logistic services providers' charges
  • customs brokers' charges
  • entry processing charges
  • steam cleaning for biosecurity
  • wharf and transport charges
  • costs to have your vehicle meet State or Territory registration and insurance requirements.

Vehicle Import Approval

A Vehicle Import Approval (VIA) is a document issued by the Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development that allows a road vehicle to be imported into Australia. This document is required to clear the vehicle from customs control.

To get a VIA, you need to apply under one of the Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development’s import options.

A completed application for a VIA, with all the necessary supporting documentation, will generally be assessed by the Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development within 20 working days of receipt.

Road vehicle

A road vehicle is:

  • a road motor vehicle – a vehicle that is designed solely or principally for the transportation of people, animals or goods on public roads or a vehicle permitted to be used on public roads
  • a road trailer – a vehicle without motive power designed for attachment to a road motor vehicle or a piece of machinery or equipment that is equipped with wheels and designed to be towed behind a road motor vehicle
  • a partly completed road motor vehicle
  • not a vehicle listed in a Determination under Section 5b of the Motor Vehicle Standards Act 1989 (MVSA).

It is an offence to import, sell or present new or used imported road motor vehicles to the Australian market for the first time unless they meet the National Standards.

Non-road vehicle

A ‘non-road vehicle’ (often referred to as ‘non-transport equipment’ and/or ‘off-road vehicles’) is a vehicle that is not principally designed for road travel and/or is not permitted to be driven on public roads.

Non-road vehicles do not require a VIA, however, they must be assessed by the Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development to ascertain that they are not road motor vehicles. If a vehicle is assessed as a non-road vehicle, documentation similar to a VIA will be issued that allows the vehicle to be released from customs control.

 

The Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development has examples of non-road vehicles and information on vehicle assessment on their Non-Road Vehicles Options webpage.

Vehicles with air-conditioners or a refrigeration system

Road vehicles (and other equipment such as boats and caravans) equipped with an air-conditioner or a refrigeration system might require an ozone depleting substances (ODS) and synthetic greenhouse gases (SGG) import licence under the Ozone Protection and Synthetic Greenhouse Gas Management Act 1989.

Before importing a road vehicle with an air-conditioner or refrigeration system, you must find out the type and quantity of gas contained in the equipment (if gassed) so that you can complete licensing and reporting requirements.

The Department of the Environment and Energy has more information about Importing vehicles, boats, caravans or and other equipment that may contain refrigerant gas into Australia, including how to apply for a licence and exceptions.

Vehicles with components containing asbestos

Importing motor vehicles that contain components such as gaskets, brake pads and clutch pads, that include asbestos is prohibited in almost all circumstances. It is an offence to import motor vehicle with components that contain asbestos. There can be lengthy delays in releasing motor vehicles suspected of containing asbestos components.

You must provide evidence to your import broker or an Australian Border Force officer that you have:

  • had a sample of high risk components tested at an Australian independent National Association of Testing Authorities (NATA) accredited laboratory, or at an overseas laboratory accredited by an authority recognised by NATA through a Mutual Recognition Agreement, or
  • engaged a qualified mechanic to remove the brakes, clutch, exhaust gasket and any other high risk parts prior to import to Australia, or
  • engaged a qualified mechanic to replace the brakes, clutch, exhaust gasket and any other high risk parts with components certified to be free of asbestos.

More information is available about asbestos.

Biosecurity

When importing motor vehicles into Australia, it is your responsibility to ensure each vehicle is clean and free of contamination of biosecurity concern, internally and externally, before it arrives in Australia.

Before release from customs control, Biosecurity Officers from the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources (Agriculture) inspect road vehicles for cleanliness on arrival in Australia. You are responsible for all inspection charges.

It is your responsibility to contact the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources regional office at the port of arrival to arrange a vehicle inspection. Agriculture will tell you about the inspection process and required documentation.

More information can be found at Agriculture’s Importing motor vehicles webpage.

Valuation

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

More information is available about how the customs value of your imported road vehicle is determined in the Guide to the valuation of imported road vehicles (including motorcycles and trailers).

Customs duty, GST, LCT

Goods you import into Australia require classification under the Customs Tariff Act 1995 (the Tariff). The customs duty rate payable is determined by the tariff classification of your goods. Duty is payable on the customs value of the goods.

GST applies to most imported goods.  There are a few exemptions from the GST, one being road vehicles for disabled persons, subject to certain conditions.  If no exemptions apply, GST is applied at 10% of the value of the taxable importation (VoTI).

LCT applies to road vehicles, except motor cycles or similar vehicles, that are designed to carry a load of less than two tonnes and fewer than nine passengers and are above a certain value

The value above which the LCT becomes payable is the LCT threshold. LCT is imposed at the rate of 33% on the amount above the luxury car threshold.

Further information about LCT and how it is calculated can be found on the ATO Luxury car tax and threshold webpage.

Please note: You do not need to calculate the duty, GST or LCT (if applicable). We will provide you with an Outstanding Payment Advice when your Import Declaration is processed. This Advice will show all amounts payable to us relating to your goods.

Tourists and temporary residents

Tourists or temporary residents can import road vehicles into Australia on a temporary basis (for a period of up to 12 months), without paying duty and taxes, provided conditions are met.

If you temporarily import your road vehicle under a cash security, a VIA is required.

If you temporarily import your road vehicle using a CPD carnet a VIA is not required.

More information is available on temporary importations, including securities and carnets.

Second-hand Road Vehicles

An imported second-hand road vehicle is subject to 5% customs duty and an additional AUD12,000 customs duty, unless a concession applies.

Provided a VIA is obtained before import, you may make use of the concessional treatment under Item 37 to Schedule 4 of the Tariff which exempts an importer from the AUD12,000 duty, provided certain conditions are met. However, your road vehicle will still be subject to the 5% customs duty.

Returned Australian goods

A VIA is required for all returning Australian road vehicles including road vehicles that have been modified.

Provided a VIA is obtained prior to import, you may make use of the concessional treatment under Items 17 and 20 to Schedule 4 of the Tariff which exempts an importer from customs duty and taxes for returned Australian goods, provided certain conditions are met.

Road vehicle kits including disassembled or partly disassembled road vehicles

Importations of road vehicle kits including disassembled or partly disassembled road vehicles must be assessed by the Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development. If they determine a VIA is not required, documentation similar to a VIA will be issued that will allow the kit or disassembled vehicle to be released from customs control.

Road Vehicle Parts

Road vehicle parts do not require a VIA. However, for the purposes of both a tariff classification and obtaining a VIA, a road vehicle is not considered to be parts just because it is unassembled, dismantled or incomplete. It is strongly recommended that if you do intend to import an unassembled, dismantled or incomplete road vehicle you seek advice from the Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development before arranging importation.

If a road vehicle assembly or component being imported bears a road vehicle identification chassis number and is to be reassembled for use on public roads, then a VIA is required.

Road Vehicle Registration

We have no control or authority over the registration and insurance requirements for road vehicles in Australia. It is your responsibility to meet the requirements of the relevant state and territory registration authorities.