What You Need to Know about Shipping Your Car to Australia

Are you thinking of shipping your car to Australia?

Today’s Monday Mailbox post is from someone thinking of shipping their car to Australia.

They didn’t say where they are moving from so I included info for those moving either from the US or from the UK since it covers both left-hand and right-hand drive cars.

Even if you’re moving from somewhere else, the info below should help you out as I have linked to the resources you need to know about.

Alright, let’s get to it.

Today’s Question

Thanks so much for your posts on what to ship and, even more so, what not to ship to Australia.

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We are currently in the process of getting moving quotes from shipping companies and have started sorting out what will be going with us to Sydney.

We are not sure about shipping our car to Australia as it sounds like getting a car when we are there will be expensive.

Is it more economical to ship our car instead of purchase one in Australia?

Lauren’s Reply

Ok, so there are a few things you need to know before even considering shipping your car to Australia.

Since I’m not sure where you are moving from, I’ll start off with general terms then get more into shipping a car from the US and from the UK to Australia.

Importing a car to Australia is a multi-step process.

You will first need a Vehicle Import Approval (VIA) from the Australian Commonwealth Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development.

Then after you have your VIA, you need to make sure your car meets the New South Wales vehicle standards. In other words, your car has all the required inspections and certifications so that you can apply for your New South Wales registration when it arrives.

You will also be required to pay customs duty, Goods and Services Tax (GST) and luxury car tax (LCT) if applicable. You will also need to obtain clearance from Customs Control at the port of entry.

Your car will also need to pass quarantine clearance from the Department of Agriculture after it has arrived at the port of entry.

Getting your VIA from the Australian Commonwealth Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development.

To get your VIA, you need to have lived overseas for a period of 12 months or more. You do not have to have lived in a single country for that 12 months, called a qualifying period, but just have not lived in Australia anytime during those 12 months.

You must intend to become an Australian permanent resident and remain in Australia indefinitely.

What does this mean for 457 visa holders or 410 visa holders?

A VIA will not be granted to people with these visas because they must be present in Australia and be able to present proof of residence in Australia.

Examples of Proof of Residence are:

  • Employment details – letter from employer stating where you are working
  • Rental agreement/purchase agreement for property in Australia
  • Opening of Australian bank account
  • Shipment of household goods
  • Australian telephone/electricity accounts
  • Australian tax file number
  • Medicare card
  • Enrolment of children in an Australian school
  • Sale of property in home country
  • Resignation from work in home country
  • Cancellation of rental property in home country
  • Entry Stamp into Australia – until you arrive in Australia your Import Approval is unable to be granted. (This only applies to New Zealand passport holders)

*This list is not all inclusive. Please check with the Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development for a current list of proof of residence.

Once you are able to prove you are a resident of Australia, you can then go about importing your car.

*This does not apply to those with a permanent residence visa or returning Australian citizens.

To ship your car to Australia you must prove that you have owned the vehicle for a continuous period of at least 12 months and that vehicle was available to be driven by you at all times within that 12 month period. You driver’s license must also be valid during this time.

Those are the main points to be aware of to get your VIA, but regulations do change so be sure to check out the Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development information on getting your VIA here.

NSW Vehicle Standards

I’m not sure where you are moving from but, in case it’s from the U.S., you need to know that, according to the NSW road safety rules, all vehicles registered must be right-hand drive.

Here is a quote from the Vehicle Standards Form 40 published on June 10, 2015.

Generally, motor vehicles registered in NSW must be right-hand drive. This means that the centre of at least one steering control of the vehicle is to the right of, or in line with, the longitudinal centreline of the vehicle.

Under the Road Transport (Vehicle Registration) Regulation 2007, a motor vehicle with a GVM not over 4.5 tonnes must have right-hand drive if the vehicle is:

Less than 30 years old

Required by the law to have right-hand drive.

This means that vehicles at least 30 years old and no more than 4.5 tonnes GVM may be registered with left-hand drive.

A vehicle that is more than 30 years old and originally manufactured as right-hand drive is not eligible for registration if converted to left-hand drive.

From the NSW Roads and Maritime Services

Customs Duty, Goods and Services Tax (GST) and Luxury Car Tax (LCT)

Generally, GST is applied at 10% of the value of the taxable importation (VoTI).

VoTI = the sum of the customs value + any duty payable + the amount paid to transport to Australia and to insure the vehicle for the transport.

Luxury Car Tax threshold is set at $63,184 for 2015/2016. That value includes GST.

Here is a nice table to show you how they calculate taxes and duty from the border.gov.au site.

Calculating-Luxury-Car-Tax-Australia
This table is from the HomeAffairs.gov.au site.

Wow, that’s almost $10,000AUD without even taking into consideration how much it will cost to clean and ship the car.

Passing Australian Quarantine Clearance

Since you are thinking of importing your “used” car (the car you currently own), you will need to have the car cleaned to pass Australia’s Quarantine. If any contamination is found on the car you are responsible for decontamination and all fees associated.

There are offshore treatment providers but even going through one of these providers does not guarantee your car will pass inspection. It does reduce the level of inspection in Australia when your vehicle arrives.

For more info on Australian Quarantine clearance for importing your car click here.

Now all that being said, my recommendation for those moving to Australia from the United States is to NOT import your car.

It is more hassle than it’s worth.

For those moving to Australia from the UK, it really depends on if it makes financial sense.

From what I’ve heard from UK expats living in Sydney, cars in Australia are more expensive than in the UK.

I would suggest doing some research beforehand to see how much it would be to replace your car in Sydney. Then sit down and calculate the cost of shipping, cleaning your car of quarantine, custom duty, GST and LCT.

Remember to convert the values Sterling to Australian Dollars for the custom duty, GST and LCT.

Hope that helps.

What Are Mailbox Mondays?

Every Monday I pick a question from an SMG email subscriber along with my reply straight out of my inbox to share with everyone here on the site.

I don’t promise to have all the answers, but I will do my best to point you in the right direction or help you with your research as I know there is a lot of noise out there on the interwebs and good resources are hard to find.

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Are You Shipping Your Household to Australia?

The best advice I can give you is to get more than one shipping quote.

Don't worry. It takes no extra time on your part to get more than one quote. Simply fill out the form below and have up to five international shipping companies contact you. I recommend getting at least three quotes.

Lauren
Hi, I’m Lauren, and I LOVE being an expat in Sydney but am fed up with all the misinformed and useless expat guides out there, not only giving bad advice but also charging for it! So I created Sydney Moving Guide written by expats, for expats. Click here to read my story.

2 COMMENTS

  1. A bit lacking this guide! For example you can import vehicles that were never sold direct in to Australia, regardless of whether you have lived outside Australia for 12months or not.
    Research before you write a “guide”

    • Thank you for your comment. Sorry this wasn’t clear.

      I got my information from the Department of Infrastructure website. Here is what it says for those moving to Australia and importing a vehicle.

      The personal imports option allows migrants settling in Australia, and expatriate Australian citizens returning permanently to Australia after a long period overseas, to bring their personal road vehicle with them, where the vehicle has been owned and used for a period of 12 months or longer.

      Applicants must have lived in a foreign country (or several foreign countries) throughout a qualifying period of 12 months prior to arriving in Australia. Applicants must now intend to become an Australian permanent resident and remain in Australia indefinitely.

      This information was intended for those moving to Australia, not temporary visitors or for those importing a vehicle for exhibition purposes.

      Sorry again for the confusion and thank you for keeping me on my toes.

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