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How to import

​​Importing a motor vehicle

Key points

  • Before importing any motor vehicle, including a disassembled or partly completed road motor vehicle, you should contact the Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Communications.​
  • Do not make arrangements to transport your road vehicle to Australia until you have been issued with a valid Vehicle Import Approval (VIA). It is an offence to import a road vehicle without obtaining a VIA.
  • Apply for a VIA through the Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Communications​. Information is available about Importing vehicles into Australia.
  • A VIA is required regardless of the value of your road vehicle.
  • When you have started transport of your road vehicle to Australia, you must lodge an Import Declaration or Self-Assessed Clearance (SAC) declaration​ with us.
  • Your vehicle will not be cleared from customs control until you have provided a valid VIA for that road vehicle to us and you have paid customs duty, goods and services tax (GST), luxury car tax (LCT) and other charges, where applicable. More information on payment of LCT is below.
  • It is your responsibility to ensure each vehicle is clean and free of contamination of biosecurity concern, internally and externally, before it arrives in Australia. See the Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment website for information about the biosecurity requirements for importing motor vehicles, motor cycles, machinery and tyres.
  • If your road vehicle arrives in Australia before you receive a VIA you might incur storage costs and other charges (not our charges) until the vehicle is cleared. If you do not have a VIA, your vehicle will need to be exported or destroyed at your expense.

Before importing a road vehicle, consider the costs of importation such as:

  • pre-shipment costs (e.g. removal of asbestos, steam cleaning for biosecurity)
  • freight and insurance (for the transport of the goods to Australia)
  • customs duties, GST and LCT
  • storage and delivery charges
  • logistics service provider charges
  • customs brokers' charges
  • import processing charges
  • wharf and transport charges
  • costs to have your vehicle meet State or Territory registration and insurance requirements.

Vehicle Import Approval

A Vehicle Import Approval (VIA) is a document issued by the Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Communications that allows a road vehicle to be imported into Australia. This document is required to clear the vehicle from customs control.

To get a VIA, you need to apply under one of the Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Communications'  ​import options.

A completed application for a VIA, with all the necessary supporting documentation, will generally be assessed by the Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Communications within 20 working days of receipt.

Road vehicle

A road vehicle is:

  • a road motor vehicle – a vehicle that is designed solely or principally for the transportation of people, animals or goods on public roads or a vehicle permitted to be used on public roads
  • a road trailer – a vehicle without motive power designed for attachment to a road motor vehicle or a piece of machinery or equipment that is equipped with wheels and designed to be towed behind a road motor vehicle
  • a partly completed road motor vehicle
  • not a vehicle listed in a Determination under Section 5b of the Motor Vehicle Standards Act 1989 (MVSA).

It is an offence to import, sell or present new or used imported road motor vehicles to the Australian market for the first time unless they meet the Australian Design Rules.

Road vehicle kits including disassembled or partly disassembled road vehicles

Road vehicle kits including disassembled or partly disassembled road vehicles must be assessed by the Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Communications. If they determine a VIA is not required, documentation similar to a VIA will be issued. This will allow the kit or disassembled vehicle to be released from customs control.

Road vehicle parts

Road vehicle parts do not require a VIA. However, for the purposes of both tariff classification and obtaining a VIA, a road vehicle is not considered to be parts just because it is unassembled, dismantled or incomplete. If you do intend to import an unassembled, dismantled or incomplete road vehicle, we recommend that you seek advice from the Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Communications.​

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.

Non-road vehicle

A ‘non-road vehicle’ (often referred to as ‘non-transport equipment’ and/or ‘off-road vehicles’) is a vehicle that is not principally designed for road travel and/or is not permitted to be driven on public roads.

Non-road vehicles do not need a VIA. However, if there is any uncertainty that a vehicle is a non-road vehicle the Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Communications can assess whether the vehicle requires a VIA or determine that they are not road motor vehicles. If a vehicle is assessed as a non-road vehicle, documentation similar to a VIA will be issued. This will allow the vehicle to be released from customs control.

The Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Communications has examples of non-road vehicles and information on vehicle assessment on their Non-Road Vehicles Options webpage.

Vehicle Tariff Classification

Classes of vehicles that generally require VIAs can be found in Chapter 87 of Schedule 3 of the Customs Tariff Act 1995 (the Customs Tariff Act).

Other equipment that may require a VIA (outside Chapter 87 of the Customs Tariff Act) include mobile light towers, mobile compressors, mobile generators and other similar equipment if mounted on wheels and that can be towed or driven on the road.

See: Current Tariff Classification

Vehicles with air-conditioners or a refrigeration system

Road vehicles (and other equipment such as boats and caravans) equipped with an air-conditioner or a refrigeration system might require an import licence for ozone depleting substances (ODS) and synthetic greenhouse gases (SGG). These import licences are issued under the Ozone Protection and Synthetic Greenhouse Gas Management Act 1989.

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.

The Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment website has more information about Importing vehicles, boats, caravans or and other equipment that may contain refrigerant gas into Australia, including how to apply for a licence and exceptions.

Asbestos in vehicle parts and components

The importation of asbestos into Australia is prohibited. You must ensure your vehicle (whether in a commercial or private importation) does not contain any asbestos before you or your supplier ship it to Australia.

When the Australian Border Force (ABF) judge that your vehicle is a risk of containing asbestos, the ABF will require assurances that parts or components do not contain asbestos. If adequate assurance is not provided, you will face delays and be responsible for costs incurred if the vehicle is held at the border for the purposes of sampling and testing. Importers should be familiar with the information on the asbestos webpage.

See the factsheet: Managing the risk of asbestos when importing a motor vehicle.

Biosecurity

When importing motor vehicles into Australia, it is your responsibility to ensure each vehicle is clean and free of contamination of biosecurity concern, internally and externally, before it arrives in Australia.

Before release from customs control, Biosecurity Officers from the Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment inspect road vehicles for cleanliness on arrival in Australia. You are responsible for all inspection charges.

It is your responsibility to contact the Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment regional office at the port of arrival to arrange a vehicle inspection. The Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment will tell you about the inspection process and required documentation.

The Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment website contains more information on Importing motor vehicles, motorcycles, machinery and tyres.

Valuation

For information on how the customs value of imported goods is determined see the Valuation of Imported Goods Fact Sheet.

More information is available about how the customs value of your imported road vehicle is determined in the Guide to the valuation of imported road vehicles (including motorcycles and trailers).

Customs duty, GST, LCT

Goods you import into Australia require classification under the Customs Tariff Act 1995 (the Customs Tariff Act). The customs duty rate payable is determined by the tariff classification of your goods. Duty is payable on the customs value of the goods.

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 ten per cent of the value of the taxable importation (VoTI).

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 are above a certain value

The value above which the LCT becomes payable is the LCT threshold. LCT is imposed at the rate of 33 per cent on the amount above the LCT threshold.

The Australian Taxation Office website contains further information on Luxury car tax and thresholds.

Note: You do not need to calculate the duty, GST or LCT (if applicable). We will provide you with an Outstanding Payment Advice when your Import Declaration is processed. This Advice will show all amounts payable to us relating to your goods.

Other information

Tourists and temporary residents

Tourists or temporary residents can import road vehicles into Australia on a temporary basis (for a period of up to 12 months), without paying duty and taxes, provided conditions are met.

If you temporarily import your road vehicle using a CPD carnet a VIA is not required.

More information is available on temporary importations, including securities and carnets.

Australian carnets

If your vehicle is returning to Australia and has previously left Australia on an Australian Carnet, you do not need to obtain a VIA if it is being imported before the expiry date of the carnet. If the carnet has expired, you will need to obtain a VIA.

Returned Australian goods

A VIA is required for all returning Australian road vehicles including road vehicles that have been modified, before we can authorise your vehicle to be released from customs control. This does not apply to vehicles returning on an Australian carnet.

Provided a VIA is obtained prior to import, you may be able to claim concessional treatment under Items 17 and 20 to Schedule 4 of the Customs Tariff Act which provides a concessional rates of customs duty and taxes for returned Australian goods, provided certain conditions are met.

Status of forces agreement (SOFA)

Visiting military personnel that are members of a 'Visiting Force' that is subject to the provisions of a SOFA, do not need to obtain a VIA for an imported vehicle​.

You may be able to claim a concessional rate of customs duty and GST under Item 11 of Schedule 4 to the Customs Tariff Act, provided certain conditions are met.​

Diplomats

Diplomatic missions, consular posts and privileged individuals may be entitled to import goods free of duty, taxes and other charges, provided all legislative requirements are met and a VIA is obtained. More information is available on the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade​ website.

External Territories

A VIA is not required to import a road vehicle into an Australian External Territory. Normal VIA requirements apply to road vehicles imported into Australia from Australia’s external territories, including Christmas, Cocos (Keeling) and Norfolk Islands.

Road vehicle registration

Each state and territory has their own registration and insurance requirements. State and territory registration authorities may not register a road vehicle for use on public roads without a valid VIA. Having a valid VIA is not a guarantee that the vehicle meets the state or territory’s requirements for registration and insurance. We have no control or authority over the state and territory registration authorities.​