Motor Vehicle Importation

Motor Vehicle Importation

Before you can gain clearance of your motor vehicle or motor cycle through customs you will need to:

Obtain a VEHICLE IMPORT APPROVAL from the Vehicle Safety Standards Branch of the Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Cities and Regional Development.

A Vehicle Import Approval is mandatory for all imported road vehicles imported into Australia.  There are various types of import approval’s that the department issue however the two most common are Vehicles Manufactured before 1989 Option and Personal Import Option.

Please Note : VEHICLE IMPORT APPROVAL MUST BE OBTAINED BEFORE VEHICLE IS EXPORTED FROM OVERSEAS.  You cannot gain customs clearance of your vehicle.  Importing a vehicle without an approval from the Department is an offence and is subject to financial penalties.  Your vehicle may also be seized or re-exported from Australian at the Importer expense.

Applications can now be done online.  As an individual you need to register with the department first.  Once registered you may complete and submit you application.  The Department will notify you within 20 working days of receiving your completed application.  We recommend that you do not ship your vehicle until you have received your approval from the Department.

To apply for an Import Approval please click on the following link:


All privately imported vehicles are subject to the same rates of customs duty, GST and where applicable Luxury Car Tax, as commercially imported vehicles and is based on the customs value of the vehicle.   There are some exemptions, such as passenger motor vehicles that are over 30 years old are exempt of import duty.

The rate of the customs duty payable is that which applies to the particular type of vehicle on the date that it is entered for Customs purposes in Australia. GST applies at the date you import the vehicle into Australia.

Where new or used motor vehicles are purchased overseas for exportation to Australia, and are not used by the importer prior to importation, the customs value will normally be assessed on the basis of the purchase price.

However, satisfactory evidence of the price paid must be presented to Customs at the port of importation.

All vehicles imported in Australia must be free of Asbestos.  Australia has a zero tolerance approach and the importation is prohibited under the Customs Prohibited Imports Regulation 1956.  In motor vehicles asbestos can be commonly found in Brake Linings, Brake Disc Pads and Shoes, Clutch Linings, Gaskets and Seals to name but a few.  It is the importers responsibility to ensure your vehicle is not fitted with Asbestos components.  The importer can either arrange for the suspect items to be removed or have the vehicle to be tested by an authority that can carry out the testing to meet Australian Requirements for laboratory reporting.  Further information can be found on the ABF website.  If an importer is found unlawfully importing asbestos the ABF may issue a penalty of up to AUD 210,000.

For further information on the Customs Requirement and Asbestos please click on the following link:


All used vehicles are subject to a mandatory inspection at an approved quarantine facility.  All vehicles must be clean and free of Quarantine risk material, such as seeds, soil, mud, clay and plant material,  prior to departure.

If any of these are found, Quarantine have the option to either:

  • Treat (clean) your vehicle,
  • Export the vehicle, if it has arrived in a heavily contaminated state or
  • Destroy your vehicle.

Quarantine Risk Material in vehicles is usually found in the following areas:

  • Soil around wheels, muffler, guards, mud guards
  • Spare tyres and boot
  • Engine bay and/or radiator
  • Dirt underneath of the car or vehicle
  • Leaves seeds and soil in the Interior of the car or vehicle

If any of the above are found , generally Quarantine will direct your vehicle to be cleaned.  Cleaning your vehicle, can involve steam/high pressure cleaning, disinfection and vacuuming, which is at the cost of the importer.

Detailed information can be found at the link below