Cars, motorcycles, other vehicles and parts thereof will be subject to duty, GST and possibly luxury car tax (LCT). It doesn’t matter if vehicles accompany personal effects shipments as with importing all vehicles and or parts into Australia, duty and taxes are payable. The current duty on vehicles is 5% on the value of the vehicle (determined by customs) and then 10% GST on the value of the vehicle, the freight to get it here and the duty amount. There’s only one exemption and that importing vehicles that have been exported as used vehicles from Australia. They must have been owned by the same person for the export from Australian and import back into Australia.
The 4 Basic Steps
There are basically 4 steps that need to be followed to import vehicles into Australia but there are many variables to observe. All the relevant detailed information can be found at the bottom of this page. The following is a basic guide to the process and should be confirmed prior to shipping any vehicle. Please note that no personal effects can be placed in the vehicle. Only loose items that belong to the vehicle itself such as a spare tyre, jack, bull bar, tow bar etc.
- You must obtain a Vehicle Import Approval (VIA) prior to shipping the vehicle from the origin. An application fee of A$50.00 applies and can take up to 4 weeks to obtain. They must be obtained by the importer from Vehicle Safety Standards Branch of Infrastructure.
Within Australia – 1800 815 272 Outside Australia – 61 2 6274 6013 or email@example.com
- You must arrange the customs clearance yourself directly with customs or request World Relocations Group to arrange the clearance on your behalf. You need to complete the customs declaration with the value of the vehicle but you must declare a realistic value of the vehicle otherwise customs may request a valuation by one of their registered valuation experts. We’ve seen quotes for written valuation ranging from A$350.00 – A$750.00 so under valuations come with a risk.
- DAFF are interested in the cleanness of the vehicle. You must arrange the DAFF inspection of the vehicle or request World Relocations Group to arrange the inspection on your behalf. If we’ve been asked to arrange the customs clearance we’ll also include this process in the price. Once the vehicle has been inspected, DAFF will pass it or they will reject the vehicle and order it to be cleaned. The majority of vehicles are rejected due to dirt, dust, leaves and pods in grills, engine bays, tyres or the underside of the vehicle. It is vital to have vehicles steamed cleaned prior to shipping and ask the supplier to send you the steam cleaning receipt. If the vehicle is rejected by DAFF, they will advise the reason and request for that issue to be fixed. This is steam cleaning as a rule and must be done by a DAFF registered cleaner. Again these charges are high and range around A$350.00 – A$600.00 depending on the state and size of the vehicle. There will also be DAFF and transport charges added to this amount. For RV’s or any vehicles with toilets, they must be emptied and cleaned prior to shipping. They will be inspected.
- Pay the duty, GST and possibly LCT. Once the customs duty & GST have been paid, DAFF has cleared the vehicle from their hold, you have paid the shipping line and World Relocation Charges, you can then arrange to collect the vehicle from the import bond. If you’re going to use it on public roads, you then need to proceed as a standard vehicle and obtain a roadworthy and then registration.
- Obtain a Vehicle Import Approval (VIA) from the Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development (Infrastructure) prior to shipping your vehicle/s. Phone: 1800 815 272 (Australia only), or +61 2 6274 7444 (International callers), Fax +61 2 6274 6013, email firstname.lastname@example.org. Further information can be obtained by visiting the Importing Vehicles into Australia webpage at www.infrastructure.gov.au/vehicles/imports
- Pay customs duty, Goods and Services Tax (GST) and luxury car tax (LCT) where applicable and obtain clearance from Customs control the port of entry.
- Obtain quarantine clearance from the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry (DAFF) Biosecurity after the road vehicle has arrived at the port of entry. For more information visit the DAFF Biosecurity website.
A road motor vehicle as defined in the Motor Vehicle Standards Act 1989 (MVSA) is a vehicle designed solely and principally for the transport of people, animals or goods, or a partly completed road motor vehicle. A road trailer is defined as a vehicle or equipment fitted with wheels, that is without motive power and is designed to be attached to and towed behind a road motor vehicle. Before importing any vehicle, including disassembled or partly completed road vehicles you should contact Infrastructure. Further information can be found at: www.infrastructure.gov.au/vehicles/imports
To gain clearance from Customs control for an imported road motor vehicle you must hold a valid VIA for that road motor vehicle. It is an offence under the MVSA to import, sell or present new or used imported road motor vehicles to the Australian market for the first time unless those road motor vehicles meet the National Standards.
Motor vehicles that are designed solely and principally for off-road use or those not permitted to be used on public roads are not road motor vehicles and are not prohibited from importation. These are referred to as non-transport equipment or off-road vehicles. Such vehicles include motorised mobility wheelchairs that meet the definition set in the Motor Vehicles Standards Road Vehicles Determination 2003 and also include power-assisted pedal cycles, off-road motorbikes, All Terrain Vehicles and Self Balancing Personal Transportation Devices (Segway type) designed solely for off-road use.
As the importation of off-road vehicles is not prohibited by the MVSA 1989, a VIA is not required under that legislation. However, in order to determine that such vehicles are not road motor vehicles, ACBPS requires that Infrastructure conduct an assessment of the vehicle and provide documentation to that effect. This documentation is similar to a VIA and will allow for the release of your vehicle from Customs control. For further information, visit the Importing Vehicles into Australia webpage.
- electronically; or
- by document at a ACBPS office; or
- you may use the services of a licensed customs broker to deal with ACBPS’s requirements on your behalf.
Your road vehicle may be entered into:
- home consumption; or
- a licensed warehouse.
Duty/GST and other charges must be paid when your road vehicle is entered for home consumption. LCT must be paid or deferred if your road vehicle has a customs value above the LCT threshold or the fuel efficient LCT threshold, unless an exemption applies. Information relating to GST and LCT can be found at the Australian Taxation Office website.
If your road vehicle has a value below the import entry threshold (AUD1000) it may be cleared by ACBPS by lodging a self-assessed clearance (SAC) declaration. A VIA is required regardless of the value of the road vehicle.
Once all duty, taxes and other charges are paid (if applicable), and ACBPS and DAFF Biosecurity requirements are met, an authority to deal (ATD) will be issued for your road vehicle to be delivered into home consumption. All ATDs for road vehicles are issued subject to the condition that you have a valid VIA to take delivery of your road vehicle into home consumption.
Prior to making a decision to import a road vehicle you should take into account the likely costs you may incur during the importation process such as:
- Freight and insurance (for the transport of the goods to Australia);
- Customs duties, GST and LCT, if applicable;
- Storage and delivery charges;
- Logistic services providers’ charges;
- Customs brokers’ charges;
- Entry processing charges;
- Steam cleaning for quarantine purposes;
- Other wharf and transport charges; and
- any costs involved in having your road vehicle meet State or Territory registration and insurance requirements.
Delivery of your road vehicle into home consumption will only be authorised where ACBPS and DAFF Biosecurity clearance requirements are met.
If your road vehicle is shipped to Australia before you have received a VIA, and/or your road vehicle arrives before your application is processed, you may incur significant storage costs and other charges (not ACBPS charges) until ACBPS clears your road vehicle.
The ACBPS will only issue an ATD when you have a valid VIA for your road vehicle. The owner of any imported road vehicle that is not or will not be issued with a VIA may incur significant storage costs until the owner makes arrangements for the road vehicle to be:
- exported at the owner’s expense; or
- destroyed at the owner’s expense.
Destruction will take place under ACBPS supervision.
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 that are detailed at the Department of Environment (DoE) website. Specific requirements are available at: www.environment.gov.au/atmosphere/ozone/licences/vehicle-import.html
You may not need to apply for an ODS/SGG equipment licence if the road vehicle is kept by you or a member of your household, and:
- the road vehicle is owned by you (the importer) for at least 12 months prior to importation and is principally for your private use; or
- the air-conditioning or refrigeration system is degassed prior to being shipped to Australia.
If you claim one of these exemptions you may be required to present documentary evidence to support your claim. These records should be kept for audit purposes.
You may be required to demonstrate that you have taken steps prior to importation to ensure your goods are free from asbestos and you should supply documentary evidence of this to your broker. Options include:
- testing a sample of high risk components at an independent National Association of Testing Authorities (NATA) accredited laboratory;
- engaging a qualified mechanic to remove the brakes, clutch, exhaust gasket and any other high risk parts and importing the vehicle without these components; or
- engaging a qualified mechanic to replace the brakes, clutch, exhaust gasket and any other high risk parts with components certified to be free of asbestos.
If you are importing a used road vehicle you are required to lodge a Quarantine Entry at a DAFF Biosecurity regional office. You should also contact the DAFF Biosecurity regional office in the port at which your road vehicle will be arriving, to arrange an inspection. You are responsible for all DAFF Biosecurity charges. Further information can be found at www.daff.gov.au/biosecurity/import/vehicles-machinery/motor-vehicles
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).
For imported road vehicles the VoTI is the sum of:
- the customs value (CV);
- any duty payable; and
- the amount paid or payable to transport the goods to Australia and to insure the goods for the transport (T&I).
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
- above a certain value.
The definition of a road vehicle for LCT purposes includes limousines regardless of the passenger carrying capacity. The value above which the LCT becomes payable is the LCT threshold. The LCT threshold is a GST inclusive value which, for the 2014/15 financial year, is set at $61,884. (NB: Customs Value can be an amount less than the LCT threshold figure, as shown in the example below).
LCT does not apply to a car above the LCT threshold if it is a commercial vehicle that is not designed for the principal purpose of carrying passengers. Further information about vehicles that are not subject to LCT can be found on the ATO website.
The LCT rate is 33 % (commencing 1 July 2008, prior to that date the rate was 25%). While the LCT threshold is GST-inclusive, LCT is only payable on the GST-exclusive amount which exceeds the threshold value.
An example of how the LCT is applied is shown below:
Fuel efficient luxury cars with a luxury car value (VoTI plus GST) under the Fuel Efficient Vehicle (FEV) limit of $75,375 for the 2014-15 financial year are not subject to LCT. Further information can be found by accessing Australian Customs Notice 2009/41 Luxury Car Tax in the Integrated Cargo System – Update.
Please note: You do not need to make any calculations regarding duty, GST or LCT (if applicable) liabilities. When your import declaration is processed ACBPS will provide you with an Outstanding Payment Advice. This Advice will show all amounts payable to ACBPS relating to your imported goods.
As a tourist or temporary resident, you may bring a road vehicle to Australia for a period of up to 12 months without payment of duty and taxes, provided a VIA is obtained prior to your importation. Your road vehicle must be subsequently exported from Australia within the approved time limit. All fittings and accessories imported with the road vehicle must also be exported with the same road vehicle.
Approval for temporary imports is granted under Section 162 of the Customs Act 1901 (the Act). Goods that qualify as temporary imports can be imported under:
- a security or undertaking, equal to the amount of duty and GST and if applicable, LCT that would be payable on importation. The security may be in the form of cash or a bank guarantee.
Under provisions set out in the Act, on application, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the ACBPS may extend the period of temporary importation. Applications to extend this period must be made prior to the expiry of the temporary importation period.
If your road vehicle is not exported within the approved time limit, you will forfeit the security. This also applies where the road vehicle is lost or stolen and therefore unable to be exported when required.
If you remain in Australia and you decide to keep your road vehicle with you, you may apply to have your import declaration amended. This will create a duty and tax liability which you are required to pay to finalise your importation. To organise a refund of the security you will need to advise ACBPS that you have amended your import declaration and paid the duty and GST.
Section 162A – Import Declaration Not Required/VIA Not Required
Under section 162A of the Act commercial samples, professional equipment, scientific equipment and goods for display or use at exhibitions, fairs, meetings or similar events can be imported under:
- an ATA carnet (Admission Temporaire/Temporary Admission) issued by Chambers of Commerce under the ATA Convention or the Convention on Temporary Admission (otherwise known as the Istanbul Convention).
Section 162A also provides for a private road vehicle to be imported under:
a CPD (Carnet de Passages En Douanes) carnet issued by an overseas organisation which has a reciprocal arrangement with the Australian Automobile Association (AAA); and for
- the specified period.
A CPD carnet allows for the temporary admission of your road vehicle without the payment of duties or taxes and without the requirement for a VIA. For a CPD carnet, approval is required from:
- the Australian guaranteeing body (AAA);
- ACBPS; and
- the carnet issuing body overseas.
Further information can be obtained from the AAA website at: www.aaa.asn.au/touring/bringing.htm
You may extend the period of importation provided under a CPD carnet by submitting an application to the relevant Guarantee Association. An extension must be approved by the CEO of ACBPS prior to the expiry of the original approval.
Importing a Second-hand Road Vehicle – Import Declaration and VIA is Required
Provided you obtain a VIA prior to importing a second-hand road vehicle, you may make use of the available concessional treatment under Item 37 to Schedule 4 of the Tariff which exempts an importer from the special duty of $12,000 that is applied to second-hand road vehicles. However, your road vehicle may still be subject to an ad valorem rate of duty.
You may make use of the available concessional treatment under Items 17 and 20 to Schedule 4 of the Tariff as returned Australian goods provided a VIA is obtained and your road vehicle meets one of the Customs By-laws associated with Item 17 or Item 20
Item 17 may be used for unaltered road vehicles returning to Australia.
Item 20 may be used for repaired or renovated road vehicles returning to Australia.
A VIA is required where:
- a road vehicle was exported from Australia and is being imported;
- a road vehicle is returning to Australia that was previously registered in Australia;
- a road vehicle was purchased overseas and has an Australian compliance plate fitted; and
- a road vehicle was manufactured in Australia.
Road Vehicle Kits including Disassembled or Partly Disassembled Road Vehicles – Import Declaration and VIA is Required
Importations of road vehicle kits including disassembled or partly disassembled road vehicles are subject to an assessment made by Infrastructure.
If you wish to import a road vehicle kit, you must submit a full application to Infrastructure with all the relevant information. Infrastructure will assess the application and determine if a VIA is required. If a VIA is not required for your road vehicle kit, Infrastructure will advise you in writing.
It is important to note that State and Territory registration authorities may not register a reassembled road vehicle or a road vehicle kit for use on public roads without a valid VIA.
Road Vehicle Parts
Road vehicle parts do not require a VIA from Infrastructure.
However, for both Customs Tariff purposes and for the purposes of obtaining a VIA, a road vehicle is not considered to be parts just because it is unassembled, dismantled or incomplete. Before importing any vehicle, including disassembled or partly complete road vehicles you should contact Infrastructure.
Where a road vehicle purchased overseas is cut in two halves or more (to be assembled in Australia) for importation on separate shipments to Australia, the importer may be in breach of the Act for non-compliance of entry of the goods. This is because the purchased road vehicle may form part of a bulk order. It is strongly recommended that if you do intend to import an unassembled, dismantled or incomplete road vehicle you seek advice from ACBPS and Infrastructure prior to 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. It is important to note that State and Territory registration authorities may not register a reassembled road vehicle for use on public roads without a valid VIA.
A Tariff Classification Guide dealing with incomplete vehicles, The classification of partially assembled or partially disassembled motor vehicles under IR2(a), is located at www.customs.gov.au/tariff/precedents.asp