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Australia - Importing a Vehicle

Importation of vehicles in Australia is very carefully regulated. Each vehicle that comes into the country must have been issued with an Import Approval Permit which is given by the government department of transport.

If you are importing a vehicle that is more than 30 years old, or you are importing a motorbike, then there is no import duty but you will need to pay goods and sales tax of 10%. If the vehicle you are importing is less than 30 years old then you need to pay 10% duty and 10% GST. If you are importing a commercial vehicle, an off-road vehicle or a four wheel drive then your import duty will be set at 5% and the standard GST of 10% is payable. For the purposes of determining duty then your vehicle will be assessed on its value. This may be based on the price originally paid for the car or the value assessed when the car arrives in Australia, which is often less than the resale value would be within the country.

If you wish to import what is considered to be a luxury vehicle then there are extra taxes to be paid. If the value of the vehicle that you wish to import is higher than $57,000 – and this figure is adjusted on an annual basis – then you need to pay the luxury car tax which is 25% of the value of the car over and above the threshold set by the customs department. This is applied to both personal use and commercial vehicles.

It is considered to be the best course of action to contact the customs department of the Australian government before you make arrangements to bring your vehicle into the country as they can assess each case individually and advise you if there are any special circumstances for you which may cost you more.

If the car you are bringing into the country is not yet 30 years old then you will need to have it certified for compliance. There are a number of points that the car must comply with and these include anchor points for seat belts, ensuring mirrors are in good repair, an inspection from the Roads and Traffic Authority, some vehicles may need an engineer certificate and an import compliance plate.

There is also a scheme for cars which were manufactured prior to 1989. This does not apply to cars which have had any modifications after this date. Documentation to support the age of the car and the state of repair is required, along with a photo and photo ID for the person applying for the import permit. A modification is considered to be different to restoration. Providing the car remains within the original specifications it will keep the original date.

Cars brought into Australia must be registered and there are a certain number of criteria which must be met in order for this to happen. The care must have at least third party (bodily injury) insurance which will cover any other person who is hurt in an accident caused by your vehicle. If you wish to have more comprehensive insurance you can arrange this separately.

Some states will require you to have a UVP (unregistered vehicle permit) and in order to obtain this you will need to provide the original registration papers for the car, all the relevant import papers, identification for yourself such as a passport and visa, your driver’s licence and the international driving permit if you have one. The vehicle must also meet a minimum standard of repair including working lights, working windscreen wipers, brakes in good repair, working seat belts, tyres and no leaks of oil. You will also need to have a contact address within the country and your address overseas if you are still in another country. A small fee is payable and this will vary from state to state. Each state may also have different criteria in addition to those already mentioned.

In the Capital Territory if the current registration of the vehicle expired while it is in Australia then it will not qualify for temporary registration. New South Wales will require you to have the Third Party insurance and as long as the car is only in the state for a short time it will not need to be registered. Queensland will issue an overseas vehicle permit without the need for a car to be re-registered in the state. In order to qualify for this you will need to have the minimum amount of insurance, a permit issued by the police, have the vehicle inspected by an approved inspector, permission to import the vehicle and proof of the registration of the car in another country. Tasmania allows foreign registered cars provided the original registration does not expire while it is in the country and the same regulations apply in Victoria.

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