Are You Thinking of Shipping Your Car to Australia?

This post comes from and email I got 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.

More Economical to Ship a Car Instead of Purchase One in Australia?

Email from SMG reader.

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

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 Australia.

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?

Before Shipping Your Car, There Are a Few Things You Need to Know.

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 United States 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.

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Then after you have your VIA, you need to make sure your car meets the New South Wales vehicle standards if shipping to Sydney.

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 Vehicle Import Approval.

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 482 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 or purchase agreement for property in Australia
  • Opening of Australian bank account
  • Shipment of household goods
  • Australian telephone or 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.

After proof of residence, then you can import your car.

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

*This doesn’t 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.

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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.

Does your car meet the New South Wales vehicle standards?

I’m not sure where you are moving from but, in case it’s from the United States, 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).

Value of Taxable Importation (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 (LCT) threshold is set at $67,525 for 2019/2020. That value includes GST.

For fuel-efficient vehicles, LCT is $75,526 for 2019/2020.

Definition of a luxury car from the Australia Tax Office.

A car, for luxury car tax purposes, is a motor-powered road vehicle designed to carry a load of less than two tonnes and fewer than nine passengers.

It does not include motorcycles or similar vehicles.

And the definition of fuel-efficient cars from the Australia Tax Office.

A fuel-efficient car has a fuel consumption that does not exceed seven litres per 100 kilometres as a combined rating under the vehicle standards in force under section 7 of the Motor Vehicle Standards Act 1989.

Here is an example of how to calculate LCT.

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Calculating Luxury Car Tax When Importing Car to Australia

Imported New Luxury CarCalculationAmount
Customs Value (CV)80,000
Customs Duty = 5% + CV0.5 x 80,0004,000
Freight and Insurance (F&I)2,500
VoTI = CV + Duty + F&I80,000 + 4,000 + 2,50086,500
GST = 10% x VoTI10% x 86,5008,650
Luxury Car Value (LCV) = GST + VoTI8,650 + 86,50095,150
LCT = (LCV - LCT threshold) x 10/11 x 0.33(95,150 - 67,525) x 10/11 x 0.338,287

Be sure to ask the shipping company that is transporting your luxury car to give you an estimate on tax and customs in Australia. This doesn’t include any quarantine cleaning fees you may owe.

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.

Importing a Car From the United States.

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.

Importing a Car From the UK.

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 to Australian Dollars for the custom duty, GST and LCT.